Iron Maiden’s custom Boeing 747-400 takes off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Bands customizing big transport jets for tours is nothing new. For instance, Alice Cooper, the Allman Brothers Band, Deep Purple, Elton John, Olivia Newton-John, and Peter Frampton all made use of The Starship (a Boeing 720) back in the 1970s. Legendary metal band Iron Maiden has turned the volume up to 11 with their custom-liveried “Ed Force One” — named after their evil mascot, Eddie.
The long list of cities on the tour is a cool addition to the livery.
What makes Iron Maiden’s tour planes even more unusual is that they’ve been piloted by lead singer Bruce Dickinson, who holds a transport pilot license. Iron Maiden’s last tour made use of a customized 757-200.
After the band’s April 11 show in Tacoma, WA, they made the short hop up to Paine Field in Everett, WA on April 12 for a VIP tour of their bird’s birthplace, the Boeing assembly plant, before leaving the same day for their next tour stop in Denver (Editor’s note: I got to see the beautiful #EdForceOne fly over my Denver office on departure!). Before they left Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, I was able to be there, on the ground, and get some up-close photos of the plane.
My EVA Air 747-400 in Seattle, after I landed
Typically, flying on the upper deck of a Boeing 747 is an exclusive affair. When the jumbo jet was first introduced, the upper section was a lounge for premium passengers. More recently, most airlines put premium seats up top. This means that most don’t have the ability to experience the upper deck. Unless you have the means, a job willing to pay, the miles to upgrade, or some extra luck, you’re relegated to the main deck.
However, there have been a few airlines that have configured their 747s with economy on the upper deck. Today, Air France, Virgin Atlantic, and EVA Air are the only ones to offer the option. With many airlines constantly upgrading their fleet, and the 747-400 thus being phased out, the ability to fly economy up top on the “Queen of the Skies” will soon be a thing of the past.
The upper deck of my Boeing 747-400
I recently had a flight home from Taipei (TPE) to Seattle (SEA) on EVA Air, and the airline kindly put me in business class (pretty much standard procedure when flying on press-related trips). At first, it didn’t fully make sense to them when I asked if I could give up my business class seat in the nose of the 747 for an economy seat on the upper deck. But that is exactly what I worked hard for; I was never as excited to fly in economy.
Resting in the hangar, a Boeing 747-400 undergoes a C-check
We recently paid a visit to China Airlines’ (CI) primary maintenance facility, located at Taoyuan International Airport outside Taipei. The monster facility–which held three Boeing 747-400s and an Airbus A340-300 at the time–is able to perform all standard maintenance regimens from A to D checks, as well as landing gear replacement and painting.
In for a two-week C-check, a Boeing 747 shows signs of care in progress. Each cabin is inspected in detail.
Unfortunately for us (probably good for the airline) their new Boeing 777-300ER wasn’t in the hangar at the time. Being so new, CI is currently only able to complete A-checks on the airplane. It expects to be able to offer up to C-checks by mid-2015, and add service to Panasonic’s IFE system in 2016. Check out our photo gallery and learn more.
The pilot’s rest area inside an Air Canada Boeing 787 Dreamliner – Photo: Howard Slutsken | Airways News
Often passengers on long-haul flights do not stop and think about the need for the flight crew to rest. Pilots and flight attendants only have a certain number of hours that they can work, and then they need their time to rest.
Some airlines opt for crew rest areas either above or below the passenger cabin of the aircraft, while others will have crew just use your standard passenger seat.
A crew rest sign means business – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter
We have had a chance to visit quite a few different rest areas and I have to say that one thing that most of them have in common is they are small. They probably wouldn’t be a good fit for those who are claustrophobic.
It is not always easy to get to the rest areas (normally, steep stairs or a ladder), and once you are in, there isn’t always too much room to maneuver. However, what they do offer is a private space, away from passengers, to get some rest.
We wanted to share the number of different crew rest areas that we have visited. Enjoy the photo tour: