Plain Aviation

the life of a planespotter and true avgeek

Tag: 747

Update: Cathay 747 Farewell Flyover

It’s 8:30am, and here I am at Victoria’s Peak waiting for the Cathay Pacific 747-400 Farewell Flyover. Even though I got here two hours in advance, the place is already jam-packed with spectators. I managed to find a nice spot on the rock, and now the waiting begins. The total value of all the camera gear people have brought here today? Beyond me. I’ll have pictures from today uploaded as soon as possible.

CXcitement 1:200 Boeing 747-400 Model Unboxing

Yesterday I welcomed the newest addition to my 1:200 model airliner collection, which as of right now only consists of 2 aircraft (so realistically it can’t quite count as a collection). It is the CXcitement (not sure how to pronounce this? excitement? see-ecks-citement? Cathay-citement?) 1:200 Boeing 747-400  in Cathay Pacific Asia’s World City special livery (link to product page). I bought it for exactly 600HKD (or 77USD) at the big toy store near the check-in areas of Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1. As you can tell from the name, this 747-400 model is the official Cathay Pacific branded version, which they sell on their online store for the exact same price. While I wished for a 1:200 747-400 model in the standard Cathay livery, they are no longer produced and the only one I could find on sale was a second-hand version going for around 1380HKD (link to it here in case you’re interested). Not really worth it if you ask me.

cxcitement 747-400 model front of box

Front of box

How Cargo is Saving the Boeing 747

A topic that can get any planespotter or aviation enthusiast to tear up on the spot is the retirement of the Boeing 747. Seriously, movie studios should consider getting planespotters to act in roles where crying is needed. It’ll be much more genuine that some of the crappy fake crying that we see in movies. What was once comparable to a queen on her throne is now more or less a prisoner of war. The Boeing 747 has reached the end of its lifespan as airlines are switching over to more efficient twinjets or perhaps the Airbus A380. The 747-8 remains an overall failure, while earlier versions such as the 747-400 are being phased out due to their age.

Last flight of Cathay’s passenger 747 scheduled

After operating several variants of the 747 on passenger flights for more than three decades, Cathay has tentatively scheduled a last revenue flight for the type. The flight will be CX543 from Tokyo Haneda (HND) back to Hong Kong (HKG) and will take place on the 1st of October 2016. The flight is scheduled to depart HND at 10:45 JST (9:45 HKT) and arrive at HKG around 15:05HKT. The HKG-HND-HKG route is currently operated by Cathay’s two remaining passenger 744’s, which have been retired from long-haul service. It is unknown if Cathay will ever operate the 747-8 on passenger flights, however it sadly seems very unlikely as Boeing has been slowing down 747-8 production in the past year due to low demand. While I may find some comfort in knowing that Cathay will still fly freighter 747’s for years to come, it’s truly saddening to see the retirement of my favorite aircraft.

Cathay Pacific Cargo 747 rolls out in new livery

One of Cathay Pacific Cargo’s 747-400ERF’s, B-LIA, rolled out of HAECO’s Xiamen plant in the new Cathay livery after completing its D-check. The new livery was introduced on the 1st of November 2015 with one of Cathay’s 777-300ER’s, registration B-KPM. After completing its D-check in Xiamen, B-LIA returned to Hong Kong on the 20th of January 2016. The aircraft was delivered to Cathay Pacific Cargo new in mid-2008, and has an age of around 8 years. It is powered by four Pratt & Whitney PW4062A turbofan engines. The 747 version of the livery did have any significant features that wasn’t seen on B-KPM, however the winglets of B-LIA were painted in the same “Cathay green” as the tail, whereas B-KPM and other 777’s don’t have winglets. All of Cathay’s A350’s on order will be delivered in the new livery, and it is expected that Cathay will progressively repaint their current aircraft with the new livery as they undergo their D-checks. It will likely be years before the entire Cathay fleet is able to transition into the new livery, as aircraft are usually repainted only during their D-checks, which happen around once every 6 years. Sadly, there’s a 99.9% chance that Cathay’s passenger 747-400’s won’t be painted in the new livery, as they are no more than a few years away from retirement. It is also likely that Cathay’s older aircraft such as their 777-200’s, A340-300’s, and early A330-300’s will be retired before their next D-check and won’t see the new livery either. I’m desperately hoping that they’ll hang onto their A343’s for a little longer so we’ll get to see them in the new livery. Only time will tell.

Boeing cuts production of 747-8

Due to a significant decrease in demand for the new and improved 747-8 (which let’s be honest was never that high in the first place) in the last few months, Boeing has decided to cut its production of the type to just 6 per year, as opposed to the original target of 12 in the same span of time. In 2015, Boeing was only able to sell two 747-8’s in what was the first sale of the aircraft type in two years. Demand for the 747 has sadly plummeted, especially in the passenger market as airlines now seem to prefer operating twin-engined wide-bodies such as the 777 or A350 on long-haul routes for increased fuel efficiency and flight frequency. The 747-8 is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It’s less fuel-efficient compared to the 777, but can’t carry as many passengers as the A380. Therefore, a large majority of 747-8 orders are for the freighter version, which are also on the decline due to the relatively small size of the freight market. In an age where a lot of the glamour in air travel is gone and it’s all about lowering the operating cost per seat, the 747 just doesn’t have an edge anymore. Part of the reason why production of the 747-8 hasn’t completely halted is because it was selected to replace the two aging 747-200’s that are currently serving as Air Force One. The future of the 747 is uncertain. Will sales recover? Will Boeing develop a new 747 variant or scrap the program altogether? As sad as it is, the truth is that once the last 747-400 has retired, the 747 will no longer be the Queen of the Skies.

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