back to article First Boeing 777 (aged 24) makes its last flight – to a museum

The first passenger Boeing 777 built is being flown to a museum today, having spent the last quarter of a century ferrying bods from A to B. Boeing is still building the 777 long-haul airliner to this day, albeit with more than a few tweaks to the original 1990s design. Techies, particularly those in the APAC region, will be …

  1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    Feeling old yet?

    Yes. Yes I am....

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Feeling old yet?

      So am I! I was regularly crossing the "pond" when they came out, a huge improvement.

      1. Edwin

        Re: Feeling old yet?

        Huge improvement over what? I hate the standard configuration of most triple 7s - just one long cabin front-to-back on teh -200s and a bulkhead or perhaps some lavatories breaking up teh endless tunnel on the -300s.

        The 747 is infinitely preferable as a long-haul aircraft - more space, more visual variety, etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Feeling old yet?

      Yes ancient, I remember spotting things like Viscounts, Handley Page Heralds, Tridents and VC10s in my youth.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Feeling old yet?

        Don't forget the Comets... and the Caravelle's

        Ancient? Probably but only in body.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Happy

          Re: Feeling old yet?

          Anybody old enough to have spotted a Rutland Reindeer?

      2. ICPurvis47
        Gimp

        Re: Feeling old yet?

        And Fokker Friendships

      3. Ima Ballsy

        Re: Feeling old yet?

        Sigh .... Grew up a Military Brat and remember flying on DC-3's , Connie's and then the 707's as we traversed the world....

      4. oldcrab

        Re: Feeling old yet?

        Ancient - I flew in all of those!

    3. 0laf Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Feeling old yet?

      8-O I was just thinking, "but they're not old, did they not just come out?".

      Apparently not.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Feeling old yet?

        I was a young single man in Elk Grove Village in the 90s, I remember waiting to catch sight of a 777 when they were new at O'Hare.

        Then last year I flew into O'Hare with my family of wife and 2 teens on a 787 and out again on a 777.

        That's old, an entire generation.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Feeling old yet?

          "I remember waiting to catch sight of a 777 when they were new at O'Hare."

          Not long after 777s had been launched (about a year) I flew O'Hare to LAX on a two week old one that still smelled of new carpet. There were only 5 passengers on that leg (more crew than that), and a lot more when it flew on to Beijing. Meantime I got to take the Coral Route.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Feeling old yet?

      Although slightly more modern aircraft were the norm - Britannias, Comets, VC-10s etc, I'd occasionally still see DC-3s flying overhead, often on their way in to Stansted, in the early sixties.

      One memory, that is still vivid, is of lying in bed at night and listening to them slowly drone past, and seeming to take an age to do so - it was a lot quieter then, due to much less road traffic, both in general, of course, but especially overnight, and there was no double-glazing then either, so you'd hear them from a lot further away as they approached where I was, and then for a similar length of time as they passed overhead and carried on their way. I always wondered where they'd come from, where they were going and what the people on board were doing as I lay there in my bed - to the very young me it was all part of the wonder of the world, and somehow, just a little bit comforting.

      On a different note, with 20,519 flights totalling 49,687 flying hours we seem to be looking at an average flight time of ~2.5 hours, which seems low for a long-haul aircraft.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Feeling old yet?

        >>>average flight time of ~2.5 hours, which seems low for a long-haul aircraft.<<<

        Like Japan there are really big birds doing the in country shuttle runs.

        1. John Doe 6

          Re: Feeling old yet?

          ~2.5 hours was what it took to cross the pond... back when I was young.

          1. 9Rune5
            Childcatcher

            Re: Feeling old yet?

            ~2.5 hours was what it took to cross the pond... back when I was young.

            and if you tell that to the young people today, they won't believe you...

          2. boltar Silver badge

            Re: Feeling old yet?

            "~2.5 hours was what it took to cross the pond... back when I was young."

            Ah yes concorde - leaving a 3000 mile long trail of crap in the stratosphere just to save 3 hours. Personally I'm glad that enviromental nightmare is gone. Yes, go ahead spotters, mod me down.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Feeling old yet?

              >Personally I'm glad that enviromental nightmare is gone.

              The device you wrote that misspelt rant on is made out of used recycled toilet paper and powered by magic beans yes ?

              As a member of the human race you are an environmental disaster, no such thing as zero emissions.

              Did you take a flight for your holiday or did you walk ?

          3. macjules Silver badge

            Re: Feeling old yet?

            Actually around 3 hours 25 minutes for Speedbird London to JFK, although they could do it (in 1996) in under 3 hours JFK to LHR, using the jetstream.

      2. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Feeling old yet?

        'On a different note, with 20,519 flights totalling 49,687 flying hours we seem to be looking at an average flight time of ~2.5 hours, which seems low for a long-haul aircraft.'

        I wonder if that's in part due to its test role with Boeing? I don't think Cathay have many short haul routes.

        1. R J

          Re: Feeling old yet?

          Cathay has some of those quite big airplanes servicing the Manila - Hong Kong route, which takes about 2.5 hours, so my guess is it's been running there. Those flights are always fully booked, and quite a pain to ride. I always look forward for the next part of the flight (usually Hong Kong - London) where there's something resembling service, good manners and civilized behaviour ;)

      3. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Feeling old yet?

        @LeeE

        One memory, that is still vivid, is of lying in bed at night and listening to them slowly drone past, and seeming to take an age

        This one is vivid for me too, lying listening to the twin engine aircraft cruising over with their synced props beating together a slowly modulated hum. I would imagine what it was like sitting in the cockpit, where it had come from and where it was going. To this day anything in our busy skies still gets my attention.

        Inspired me to go into flying as soon as I was old enough and had the cash.

      4. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: Feeling old yet?

        " I'd occasionally still see DC-3s flying overhead, often on their way in to Stansted, in the early sixties."

        I remember as a child seeing passing in the sky a B-17. They were used by the National Geographical Institute to map the country.. The sound was awesome.

      5. Matthew Taylor

        Re: Feeling old yet?

        "I'd occasionally still see DC-3s flying overhead, often on their way in to Stansted, in the early sixties."

        At least one of them was a regular visitor to Hurn airport in the late 70's early 80's, when my mum would take me there plane spotting. It, along with the Handley page Herald,ran freight to the Channel Islands, if I recall.

        A much rarer visitor was the Vickers Vanguard. I saw it at Hurn one time, parked far away, and apparently it was not due to leave for several days. The next week I was playing on the green outside our house when I heard an unfamiliar aircraft noise (I could recognise the "regulars" by their sound) and over it flew, nice and low, as if just for me.

        All ghosts now, these memories.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Feeling old yet?

          Air Atlantique still operate DC3s out of Coventry.

      6. Tomato Krill

        Re: Feeling old yet?

        " I always wondered where they'd come from, where they were going..."

        Unless I missed something, based.on the first paragraph at least one of the answers would have to be Stansted?

      7. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Re: Feeling old yet?

        I'd occasionally still see DC-3s

        Living in a northern sub-urb of Helsinki, a DC-3 still regularly appears in the summer skies. Of course it is now a museum plane, operated by a volunteer association (http://www.dc-ry.fi/).

    5. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Feeling old yet?

      So am I. I have yet to fly on one. Never got to ride the 747 either.

      Old AND poor.

  2. Winkypop Silver badge
    Windows

    777?

    I remember the 707!

    <-- old

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: 777?

      Dan-Air comets anyone?

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: 777?

        Dan-Air comets anyone?

        They were regulars into Cardiff well into the 1970s - I've recently scanned a few old photographs of my dad's which prove it :-)

        At least, I think it's Cardiff. Mostly looks like Cardiff, but being dated 1976 I don't really remember, some of it doesn't look like Cardiff. Several Britannia and Aer Lingus 737s, a Transeuropa Caravelle, even a Hercules in the background in "camouflage" paint (odd) and a Dan Air Comet 4C, the "doesn't fall out of the sky" version.

        There's a Comet 1 at Cosford. James May's "Airfix" Spitfire is there too. Well worth a (free, apart from the car park) visit with some extremely well-displayed aircraft. My favourite is probably the Lightning - hung vertically so you can stand underneath and look up the pipes.

        M.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 777?

        ”Dan-Air comets anyone?”

        ‘If you dare, fly Dan-Air’. They had a retired Comet parked at Gatwick as a cabin crew trainer, affectionately known as the Wingless Wonder.

        1. wallaby

          Re: 777?

          Never flew on a comet but I did a few times on the Nimrod variant which I worked on at BAe Woodford, such a shame to see them take chainsaws to them the other year - I fitted the flight refueling probe to many of them.

          Dan Dare used to fly the first HS 748 for many years (G-ARAY).Gary was housed in the back sheds at Manchester airport.

    2. Thoguht Silver badge

      Re: 777?

      707? I remember the Comet, or "Plummet" as I think it used be called.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 777?

        I still have a 706

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: 777?

          I still have a 706

          I still have a 6502. Does that count?

          1. MyffyW Silver badge

            Re: 777?

            chmod 777 - for when you want the world to know your business

    3. Dave 32
      Pint

      Re: 777?

      Long live the 727!

      Dave

    4. Diogenes

      Re: 777?

      Old yep

      First ever flight was a 707 on Lufthansa as an unaccompanied minor ..

      Sydney Singapore Bangkok New Delhi Athens Rome Frankfurt. Still remember the awful stench about an hour out of New Delhi, forced to disembark at Athens for 3 hours so the toilets could be fixed and cleaned, but the stew who assigned to look after me was stunning bit of German engineering

      Home a year later same stops but a DC9 no issues

      Also remember being on beach near RAAF Sale when they still flew Neptunes as maritime recon. The sqn flew right over us, mum grabbed the 2 of us from 5m away, has a shell scrape dug and was on top of us shaking like a leaf in the time between the first sound and them going over - mum was a 10yo in Hamburg during Gommorah

      1. Milton Silver badge

        Re: 777?

        "... mum ... has a shell scrape dug and was on top of us ..."

        You are ex-Forces, probably British Army, and I claim my tenner.

        1. Diogenes

          Re: 777?

          You are ex-Forces, probably British Army, and I claim my tenner.

          Close but no tenner. Ex Lieutenant (4 years) ( and pte, lance corp,corp& sgt - a year each) Australian Army Reserve, UNSW & RNSW Regts to be precise.

    5. James Anderson

      Re: 777?

      Bac 111

      Still flying Heathrow to Copenhagen in the early 90s

  3. Ben Cockburn

    Broken link to the A300 article?

  4. Wellyboot Silver badge
    Headmaster

    designed entirely BY computer

    Don't think so - Designed entirely ON computers - yes.

    Yes feeling I'm old, but not as much as I will next July when the Falklands victory (14Jun82) becomes nearer VE-day (8May45) than the present.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: designed entirely BY computer

      It's like one of Watson's monologues from Sherlock Holmes. "I remember it was back in the year of '82."

      It's just that I didn't imagine it would be me saying stuff like that. Still I've got a few more years on me, in which I can bore these young people, who ought to get a bloody good haircut and start talking properly! And stop listening to these modern music hall ballads...

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: designed entirely BY computer

        And stop that incessant snapping of their whips. Bloody keeps me awake all day.

    2. wallaby

      Re: designed entirely BY computer

      Falklands seems like yesterday, 36 hour shifts converting Vulcans into flight refueling platforms

      Still got my tie somewhere - I guess if my ex boss is alive he will still have his OBE

  5. DrXym Silver badge

    Still have the book

    21st century jet which was about its design. It was actually very interesting reading as was the accompanying TV series.

    1. David Harper 1

      Re: Still have the book

      The wing deformation test on the first prototype was both spectacular and reassuring. They clamped the undercarriage down, then put a hydraulic jack under one wing tip. The wing was at around 45 degrees to the horizontal before it finally failed.

      It was also reassuring to know that the 777 could fly for a couple of hours on a single engine, especially when my wife and I were on a Chicago to London flight that was suddenly diverted to Bangor, Maine after the captain had to shut down one engine. Having seen the documentary, we weren't in the least worried about making a safe landing.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Still have the book

        The engine stuff is ETOPS certification. Originally trans-Atlantic / trans-Pacific jets had to have 4 engines in case one flamed out but the 777 only has two but had to prove it could fly on just one engine for 120 minutes if there was a problem.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Chris Harries

          Re: Still have the book

          I thought the 777 was ETOPS 180?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "I thought the 777 was ETOPS 180?"

            Aircraft models don't get ETOPS, the individual aircraft do. Aircraft are designed to be 'capable of ETOPS blah blah blah' when it is fully kitted out with top-end equipment that is rated at those levels. Or you can order the craft with less expensive equipment but would result in a lower ETOPS rating. This allows an airline to buy a fleet of 737s with the cheaper to buy and maintain, P&W engines, which brings the cost down for operating domestic over-land routes where ETOPS isn't needed. But they could also buy the same model of 737 but kitted out with the Rolls Royce engines, higher-end avionics, additional safety equipment so they can get an ETOPS-240 rating to operate over the oceans. Airlines do this regularly, the aircraft for routes that will never be far from an alternate and save $20mil on the bird ($50 million or more over the life of the craft). You'll notices this in the price of a ticket between a LAX-HLN being significantly higher than that of a ticket between LAX-JFK even though both routes are the same distance and may use the same aircraft (The 737-900ER has been enjoying quite a bit of popularity on these routes since it is the most economical now that it can gain an ETOPS-240 rating)

            1. P0l0nium

              Re: "I thought the 777 was ETOPS 180?"

              "the same model of 737 but kitted out with the Rolls Royce engines"

              I assure you that no one has EVER bought a 737 with Rolls Royce engines :-)

              1. Tannin

                Re: "I thought the 777 was ETOPS 180?"

                Not to mention that the last time Boeing made a 737 with P&W engines was 30 years ago.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "I thought the 777 was ETOPS 180?"

                  30 years since the last PW-equipped 737? Damn, now I feel old... I earned my ATPL on a factory-fresh one.

                  But its been almost 17 years since I've been in the cockpit of one after moving to 772/773. I used to work for a regional carrier based out of the UAE that used 737s but then transitioned to Emirates post-11 Sept since the US went totally irrational and started to believe that white pilots with very little experience on that type where somehow safer than non-white pilots with thousands of hours on that type. But I'm not complaining, I got better pay and more time to code on the long hauls and the night at a hotel between flights.

            2. EnviableOne Bronze badge

              Re: "I thought the 777 was ETOPS 180?"

              A321neo is more economical per seat mile and doesnt need the extra tanks on the westbound now.

              i'm prety sure the 320neo could make the trip and is a lot more economical than the 737-9ER

              the MAx9 doesnt have the range and the MAX 10 isnt fast enough.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Still have the book

            "I thought the 777 was ETOPS 180?"

            Not originally. The FAA granted that after a couple of years in service.

  6. PerlyKing
    Paris Hilton

    Gap in CV?

    "rolled off the line in 1994 [...] It spent three years as a flying testbed before being bought by Cathay Pacific, at which point it was completely overhauled [...] delivered for passenger flights in 2000"

    What happened to the other three years?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Gap in CV?

      Shhhh. Don't mention Boeing's brief experiment in international cocaine logistics...

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Gap in CV?

        Wasn't that Charlie's Angels?

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Gap in CV?

      Well, NASA were having problems with the shuttle so....

  7. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    It's amazing how close the 777 got to a perfect safety record. They hadn't had a fatal crash until just a few years ago, and the first one of those was shot down and the other an unknown cause. Despite the fact that so many people (including me) doubted them over their long ETOPS rating despite only having 2 engines.

    It's amazing how safe modern aviation is.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      It's amazing how close the 777 got to a perfect safety record. They hadn't had a fatal crash until just a few years ago,

      There was the "slightly premature landing" at LHR caused by ice buildup

      1. smithwr101

        First "Fatal crash"

        Fortunately, no-one was killed. Otherwise it would have been a "fatal" crash.

        I think the Asiana accident at SFO was the first and only fatal accident, where the aircraft has been found and was not shot down.

        1. M.Heisenberg

          Re: First "Fatal crash"

          And that was due to pilot error - it got flown into the ground.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: First "Fatal crash"

          "I think the Asiana accident at SFO was the first and only fatal accident"

          That one is arguably egrarious pilot error. Pressing on regardless might be ok in a single seater but not when you're flying a bus and you have 200+ other people in back counting on you not to fuck up.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        There was the "slightly premature landing" at LHR caused by ice buildup

        The pilots walked away, so that's a perfect landing.

        Admittedly they weren't able to use the plane again - but you can't have everything...

        If single-use vehicles can work for the space industry, I don't see why the airlines can't adopt it too...

        1. Vinyl-Junkie

          Re: The pilots walked away, so that's a perfect landing.

          No, that's a good landing. A great landing is one where you can use the aircraft again afterwards and a perfect landing is either a)one where the occupants don't notice you've landed until the nosewheel hits the deck or b) unobtainable; depending on which of my instructors I was flying with that day. The theory behind b) is that a good pilot will always think of something he/she could have done better, no matter how good the end result.

        2. EnviableOne Bronze badge
          Joke

          Obv a crab

          In the RAF they say a landings ok, if the pilot can get up and walk away,

          but in the Fleet Air Arm the chances are grim if the landings piss poor and the pilot cant swim

    2. anothercynic Silver badge

      Fatal hull loss is more accurate

      Yeah, the B777 is pretty safe.

      Actually the first fatal hull loss is the Asiana flight (pilot error and bad documentation by Boeing) into San Francisco that cost several occupants their lives when the tail was ripped off.

      Both Malaysia Airlines flights occurred after that.

      There are some other incidents that have cost lives but not the hull (BA flight at Denver International), and vice versa (notably the BA pancake at Heathrow due to icing, the Cairo Egyptair cockpit fire due to electrics, the Emirates pancake at Dubai International due to bad landing and pilot error).

      For a production run of around 560 examples of the B772, 4 hull losses (excluding the Malaysia Airlines incidents) are pretty good going. The B773 has racked up one hull loss (Emirates, and that was Emirates' first hull loss ever too).

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Fatal hull loss is more accurate

        'Actually the first fatal hull loss is the Asiana flight (pilot error and bad documentation by Boeing) into San Francisco that cost several occupants their lives when the tail was ripped off.'

        I believe, and I've used it as an example in Human Factors training a few times, one stewardess was killed when her seat departed the aircraft. Two passengers departed the aircraft because they weren't strapped in*, one of whom only actually died after a fire truck drove over her. The second time.

        *Always strap in unless you want to get up and walk somewhere.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Fatal hull loss is more accurate

          There was a lawyer at Sioux City (Iowa) who was so worried about fire that he decided to jump clear of the plane as soon as it hit the runway - admittedly needing time to get the exit open first.

          He was killed instantly on hitting the tarmac of course, whereas a lot of passengers survived that. It didn't help that the pilots were landing at ludicrous speed, on account of having no hydraulics, steering, flaps, spoilers or other such luxuries. An amazing piece of flying.

          Especially from the pilot kneeling on the floor, operating the throttles (and therefore doing most of the steering) - who had no safety belt (let alone seat), and can't have held out much hope of surviving himself even if he did bring the plane in successfully.

        2. eldakka Silver badge

          Re: Fatal hull loss is more accurate

          I believe, and I've used it as an example in Human Factors training a few times, one stewardess was killed when her seat departed the aircraft. Two passengers departed the aircraft because they weren't strapped in*, one of whom only actually died after a fire truck drove over her. The second time.

          Wow, that sounds more like a skit from a satire like Airplane!

          1. SkippyBing Silver badge

            Re: Fatal hull loss is more accurate

            'Wow, that sounds more like a skit from a satire like Airplane!'

            You can now find some pretty disturbing video of it happening, after they'd blanketed the area she was lying in with foam.

        3. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Fatal hull loss is more accurate

          *Always strap in unless you want to get up and walk somewhere.

          I always put it as "unless you like being bounced off the ceiling occasionally"

  8. SkippyBing Silver badge

    More than 8 hours

    The Hong Kong - Pima leg is going to be more like 15 hours if my LAX - Hong Kong experience is anything to go by. I don't sleep well on planes so the last four hours was a bit of a head-f**k.

    Incidentally the Pima County Air and Space Museum is well worth a visit, it's right next to the desert boneyard where they store retired warplanes and has an example of everything that's been through there, one offs like the F-107, and some oddities like a Shackleton and Gannet which I didn't expect to see. You can also get a bus tour of the boneyard from the museum.

    1. Vinyl-Junkie
      Thumb Up

      Re: More than 8 hours

      Looking at the museum on Google Earth it seems that the outside collection of the museum is pretty amazing, not just the US types but a whole host of other nations' aircraft too. So far I've spotted a Hunter, a Lightning, a Vampire, a Hunter, a Gnat. the Shack and Gannet already mentioned! Plus a whole host of former Soviet stuff.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: More than 8 hours

        They've got two B-52's (plus another one in what looks to be the non-public section)! I'm pretty sure I can spot three Harriers too, and there's a Super Guppy and a whole row of choppers which are a bit too small for me to make out. See here.

        I'm pretty sure I could spend two weeks going round the US just looking at aerospace museums, and I'd still have to miss some off the list.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: More than 8 hours

          'I'm pretty sure I could spend two weeks going round the US just looking at aerospace museums, and I'd still have to miss some off the list.'

          Ditto, I've seen a lot of the ones in the LA area through an equally aviation mad friend having emigrated there a few years back. You can find some unique stuff in the oddest places, e.g. the Western Museum of Flight at Torrance airfield is essentially a single hangar unit, but has one of the two YF-23 prototypes.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: More than 8 hours

          "I'm pretty sure I could spend two weeks going round the US just looking at aerospace museums"

          You could spend two weeks just going around Pima... I did.

    2. P0l0nium

      Re: More than 8 hours

      From Pima you should head south of Tucson to the Titan Missile silo (where they filmed "Star Trek First Contact") . That is stupendous (if you're a "cold warrior").

      They even let you press the "doomsday button" :-)

  9. naive

    Is "designed by computer" better ?.

    Delays like Boeing is experiencing with the new KC-46 tanker always seem a bit weird to me, the Boeing engineers in the 1950's designed the KC-135 in a few years, using paper design plans, and they are still flying over 50 years later.

    1. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

      The point about designing by computer is it allows you to test the aircraft's performance in flight without putting test pilots' (or other pilots') lives at risk. Have a read about the yaw damper problems found on early 707s, one of which killed four people and another of which would have killed many more had a Boeing test pilot not been on board at the time.

      The first Boeing 707 crash occurred a year after it entered service during a training flight simulating a variety of landing problems. Boeing modified the rudder on existing and future aircraft to give a greater degree of lateral control at low speeds and power settings.

      With the modern design process both the yaw damper and rudder problems would have been identified and solved before the first aircraft left the production line; as the aircraft would have "flown" both in purely computer simulations and hooked up to a full motion simulator.

    2. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

      A lot of the problems with the KC-46 are to do with the refuelling and flight management systems, the latter taken from the 777 and put into what is basically a 767 for some reason. The aircraft bit is fine. Bet the USAF feel stupid not ordering the A330 MRTT though.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

        >>> Bet the USAF feel stupid not ordering the A330 MRTT though.<<<

        'Not Built Here' syndrome + Boeings head would explode.

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

      The KC-46 is a military procurement program. It's supposed to go over budget.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

        'The KC-46 is a military procurement program. It's supposed to go over budget.'

        You'd think that, but it's a fixed price contract so the only budget it's going over is Boeings!

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

          Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

          On paper, anyway.

          Boeing's accountants are at least as good as Boeing's engineers.

          Pork barrels don't come for free.

          1. SkippyBing Silver badge

            Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

            'Boeing's accountants are at least as good as Boeing's engineers.'

            Hopefully they're better or Boeing are going to be bankrupt.

        2. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

          @SkippyBing,

          And it's only because Boeing said "Ok then, we'll make this a fixed-price deal" that the Congressional comittee deciding this stuff bought into it... they baulked at the price per plane, and the inevitable cost escalations that went with redevelopment of an ancient (ok, 30 year) airframe design.

          I'm so glad to see that Boeing has to suck up these delays on their own dime...

    4. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

      "Delays like Boeing is experiencing with the new KC-46 tanker always seem a bit weird to me"

      It was pretty well obvious to anyone who new the industry. Apart from the usual mission and equipment creep that you get with such programs, the aircraft was poorly suited to the role meaning that major modifications were needed

      It is based on a 767, but unlike the equivalent Airbus A330 MRT it did not already have the plumbing and belly fuel tank (The 330 wing is the same as for the Airbus 340, which means it is already stressed for the extra wing loads required to add a new engine, which makes it a great place to hang the wing refueling pods)

      In truth the 330 MRT would of been a far better option, but US procurement politics got in the way

      1. chapter32

        Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

        It's based on the fuselage of one 767 type, the wings of another and has some of the 787 avionics; hence the Frankentanker nickname. Using existing components is great, but the higher paid help don't appreciate the effort needed to integrate them so my guess is that some rather optimistic assumptions were made.

    5. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Is "designed by computer" better ?.

      The KC-46 is based on the B767. The B767 was designed to be as slippy as possible... when you then add stuff like drogues, booms, newer/different wings, extra other things to it and you don't have any previous fluid dynamics data (like the B777 or the B787 do now) to see what happens when you add that extraneous stuff, you'll find all sorts of interesting (read annoyingly surprising) things from within the airframe and the aerodynamics that cause... erm... delays. Why Boeing didn't simply use the B777 (probably because the B767 is on the way out) is beyond me.

      The Airbus A330 is fully CAD. The A330 MRTT (the Airbus equivalent of the KC-46) was also delayed by several years because of manufacturing and testing issues with the refueling boom that the Australian Air Force wanted. The RAF version of the MRTT (Voyager) uses drogue units only because Airtanker (who run the Voyagers on behalf of RAF) use several in a civilian capability.

      Airbus was happy to partner with Northrop Grumman to do the conversions for the US version of the MRTT in Alabama, but Boeing kicked up such a fuss about the contract award and pulled every string they had to have the award tender re-run (a second time, after Boeing had it the first time and lost it because of pork barrel stuffing), that Airbus just said "we're not interested in more time wasting, see ya!"

  10. GeordieSteve

    Flew to the states on BOAC and Pan-Am 707-120's

    Really old.

  11. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    "Good god! What on earth's that Tomkinson?"

    "Model of a Boeing 777 sir. Good isn't it? It's got two Pratt and Whiney engines and ..."

    "It's a bit big for a model isn't it? What scale is it?"

    "Full scale sir. It's got a fully functional avionics suite and ..."

    "If it's full scale it isn't a model 777, it's a 777. There'll be hell to pay on speech day if anyone sees this!"

    "But sir ..."

    "Get it down to no more than a 12 inch wingspan and we'll say no more about it. You're a very stupid boy building 777s."

    "But sir, there's over 350 tons of metal in there!"

    "Do you want to be sent to the Headmaster?"

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Bah!

      +1 for the Ripping Yarns ref :)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_2P2mFT_ac

  12. nmcalba

    50k hours vs 20k cycles

    With regard to the low number of hours per flight (2.5ish) for a long haul aircraft.

    The likely reason is that it spent a lot of its time on the Taiwan run - 1h55.

    Cathay Pacific has almost 20 flights a day from HKG-TPE - all of them large wide bodies (A330s and 777s). It is one of the busiest international routes in the world.

    Cathay also has quite a lot of other short/mid-haul routes it uses large wide bodies on - Seoul, Manila etc.

    1. Tannin

      Re: 50k hours vs 20k cycles

      If I reember correctly, it is THE busiest international route in the world.

  13. RPF

    The 747 wing never failed at all in this test!

  14. Ian Emery Silver badge

    I never liked it.

    Done a few hauls across Mongolia in a 777; they bounced up and down like a pogo stick; and the innards were twisting completely out of shape on the run in and run out of Beijing.

    I did the same trip on a 747, A330 and a A380, and it was buttery smooth each time.

    Just booked a flight out there for December; KLM are flying 787's, but there isnt a good word anywhere for the seats; so I booked China Southern A330 flights instead.

    BTW, discount time for Long Haul flights over Christmas has started; got mine for £334 each; BHX to NNG via CDG/AMS and PEK.

  15. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "...51,416 hours gracing the skies..." / 24 years = 25%

    51,416 hours is about six years. So about 25% duty cycle of being in the Wheels Up airborne state. Lowish, a result of 'too many' short flights.

    If I'm not mistaken, some of the newer long range planes on long routes (e.g. A380) are closer to 50% airborne over their life so far.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "...51,416 hours gracing the skies..." / 24 years = 25%

      I recall reading an article in the early 80s about utilisation of 747s and one of the oldest then flying, a Braniff aircraft produced in 1970 (N601BN I think), had clocked up an average of 13.1 hours a day since delivery. At the time it was the highest utilisation for an individual 747, and is more or less the same figure Airbus quotes for the A380 now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "...51,416 hours gracing the skies..." / 24 years = 25%

      The CAA utilisation figures for the quarter ending Jan 2018 show these from BAs fleet:

      A320-200 - 8.5 hrs

      777-200 - 14.3 hrs

      747-400 - 12.6 hrs

      A380-800 - 12.2 hrs

      787-8 - 14.8 hrs

      1. RPF

        Re: "...51,416 hours gracing the skies..." / 24 years = 25%

        Highest utilisation I've ever seen is CPA A340 fleet: 21.3 hours/day one particular year.

  16. Ol'Peculier

    I'm convinced I remember reading articles in the Reg about the testing and promotion of this aircraft, when there was a flight that plummeted several thousand feet because the fly-by-wire systems had an argument with themselves? Never been able to find the article since, but do remember my first 777 flight and telling my friend this, who had never flown before. Heh heh heh...

    Came back to the UK on one yesterday, still prefer Airbus but you get what you pay for...

  17. Toni the terrible
    Happy

    Recalling Airflights

    I once flew back from Singapore in a Britannia Turboprop, had to stop in Calcutta as apparently a lighning strike caused the nose to fall off - or thats what they said...

  18. lardheppus

    I remember flying on 727s. I must be ancient.

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