On March 25 I was invited to take part in the delivery ceremony and flight for Lufthansa’s penultimate 747-8i, D-ABYT. What makes this 747-8i a bit more special than her peers is the fact that the aircraft was painted in a livery that was used on Lufthansa aircraft in the 1970s and 80s. In some circles, it is referred to a ‘Retro-Jet’ or ‘Retro-Livery’.
The timing of this delivery was designed to compliment Lufthansa’s 60th Anniversary Celebration event that was to take place on April 15 in Frankfurt, but due to Germanwings tragedy the event was cancelled out of respect for the loss of life in the crash. It is also because of the crash that I delayed publishing any content related to the delivery flight out of respect to the situation.
Lufthansa’s D-ABYT at Boeing’s Everett Delivery Center
Boeing’s crew puts the finishing pre-flight touches on ‘YT’
The delivery event at Boeing’s Everett Delivery Center had a muted and somber feel to due to the crash. Initially, plans had called for a ‘Ribbon Cutting’ ceremony on the ramp next to the aircraft to celebrate the occasion along with a bit of ‘pomp’. However, Boeing and Lufthansa decided to hold a much simpler ceremony indoors where the Captain of the delivery flight, Uwe Strohdeicher and Boeing’s head of their 747 program, Bruce Dickenson each signed a ceremonial Purchase Certificate during a Luncheon hosted by Boeing at the Delivery Center.
Capt. Strohdeicher speaks to the strength of the relationship that exists between Boeing and Lufthansa.
Capt. Strohdeicher and Bruce Dickenson ahead of the signing ceremony.
It’s ‘ceremoniously official’…..Lufthansa owns ‘YT’
The crew for the delivery flight:
The pilots for the flight.
The entire flight crew shortly before boarding.
As I mentioned earlier, this delivery event was more special than what is typically involved for a delivery flight. Usually only a handful of people (5-7 including pilots) are on a delivery flight and they are usually airline or Boeing employees that are onboard to monitor the aircraft. For this event however we nearly filled the Business Class cabin on the lower level. Lufthansa invited several members of the German press to cover the event and Boeing used this delivery flight to reward some of their colleagues who had worked specifically on this aircraft with a 4 day trip to Frankfurt to visit Lufthansa and to take in the city.
You’re asking who sat in the 8 First Class seats? Boeing and Lufthansa awarded those seats to Boeing employees through a lottery selection. If someone pulled a piece of paper from a hat with a star on it, they sat in front. A nice gesture to recognize employees who worked from start to finish on ‘YT’.
Soon after lunch, we prepared to board the aircraft for the flight to Frankfurt which was handled like any other international flight leaving the USA. The Everett Delivery Center has 2 Gates that handle Boeing delivery flights and is technically regarded as an airport. Both gates are equipped with a security check point complete with TSA staff who X-ray luggage and screen passengers through metal detectors (and no, there is no Pre-Check lane 😉 ). After clearing security, your credentials and passport are checked to make sure you are authorized to be on the flight.
Once through the process, I was allowed to board the aircraft and was able to choose any available Business Class seat available on the lower deck. I was among the first 10-15 passengers to board, so it was easy to find a seat. I wound up sitting in 4A but I use the term ‘sitting’ loosely since I spent only an hour or so actually in the seat. For most of the flight I was simply ‘taking in’ the aircraft, inhaling that ‘new airplane’ smell, and enjoying the fact that we had open access to most of it.
I’ll end Part I at this point since I want to dedicate an entire post to the flight itself. In Part II, I’ll go into far more detail about the onboard experience including delivery flight dining, an economy cabin with no seats, the fantastic Boeing Swag Bag, and other bits and pieces from an amazing experience.
If you’re an avgeek, you won’t want to miss it.
Today (February 19) marks another important milestone in the evolution of Lufthansa as a major global airline.
On February 19, 1965 Lufthansa announced it would be the “Launch Customer” for Boeing’s 737. The initial order for 21 aircraft would be the first time that a Non-US based carrier would be a launch customer for a new model from Boeing. Over the course of time, Lufthansa would ultimately operate 155 737s. The cost of initial order was 65 million US dollars. Adjusted for 2014 it would be valued at approximately 475 million US dollars. The first Lufthansa 737 entered service on February 10, 1968 and LH would ultimately operate 155 737s over the years.
This was the first time that a jet was being designed specifically for short haul markets. Previously, jets were primarily used for transcontinental travel, but with the emergence of air travel’s popularity, it had become necessary to provide jet service on shorter distances. In Boeing’s development of the 737, Lufthansa played a vital role in the engineering of the aircraft. Professor Gerhard Holtje, Lufthansa’s board member in charge of engineering at the time was instrumental in the design of the new aircraft that would become the work horse of airlines the world over. This also put Lufthansa’s mark on the map as a significant and influential member of the airline community.
Some interesting facts:
* Approximately 8100 Boeing 737 (including various derivatives) have been manufactured.
*Boeing still builds approximately 45 737s EACH Month!
* There is a 737 landing or taking off every 5 seconds.
* 737’s have carried over 12 billion passengers
* 737’s have flown approximately 65 billion miles (120 billion km)
* The 737 represents approximately 25 percent of the global airline fleet.
Today, Lufthansa still operates 22 737s but it is phasing them out as more efficient aircraft are delivered to the fleet. I had a chance to witness the retirement of a 737 and was in Tulsa when it landed at Lufthansa Technical Component Services where it would be ‘decommissioned’. The last of the 737s should disappear from LH’s fleet by next year.
A very early 737…courtesy of Wikimedia.
Here is the next installment of images from my recent trip to Paine Field.
If you missed what I’ve posted so far from this ‘series’, here is the index of what has been published so far:
Paine Spotting: February 2015 (Part I)
Lufthansa Cargo’s D-ALFE Goes Home
Lufthansa’s D-ABYS Showing off at Paine Field
Lufthansa’s D-ABYT Retro-Jet: Inaugural Flight
Lufthansa’s D-ABYT Retro-Jet: Returns From Inaugural Flight
Lufthansa’s D-ABYT Retro-Jet: Even More Pictures!
Virgin Atlantic 787 (G-VZIG)
Saudia Cargo (HZ-AK71) prepares for test flight.
…and subsequent return.
Lufthansa’s D-ABYS returns from a Customer Flight – It has since been delivered to Lufthansa.
Lufthansa’ 747-8i (D-ABYS)
LAN’s newest 787, CC-BGB, being remove from Paint Hangar. Photo taken from my hotel room!
JAL’s newest 787 prepares for B-1 Flight.
EVA’s 777 (B16721) prepares for delivery flight…
Cathay’s 777 returns from Customer Flight.
Cathay’s 777, B-KQW, seconds after its completion. Seen here being towed to the Paint Hangar area.
American’s second 787, N801AC, departing for test flight.
If you’ve been visiting LH Flyer over the past few days, you might be thinking that the only things happening at Paine Field last week were related to Lufthansa aircraft. Granted, Lufthansa did take delivery of their last Cargo 777 (D-ALFE), they did unveil the much anticipated Retro Livery on one of their 747-8i (D-ABYT), and of course there was yet another 747, D-ABYS, that underwent her final flight tests ahead of delivery to LH. For those of you that may have missed some of these moments, you can find those posts here:
D-ALFE: Lufthansa Cargo’s last 777F
D-ABYS: Final test and customer flights ahead of delivery.
D-ABYT: Part I (First Looks & Inaugural Flight), Part II (Return From Inaugural Flight), Part III (Additional photos).
However it was a busy week at Paine Field for other carriers as well. Several airlines took deliveries of their newest birds, Boeing unveiled a few newly painted planes and a variety of test flights filled the 3 days that I spent there. I’m glad that I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Everett since it’s location right next to the airport made it easy to see everything that was going on, even in the middle of the night!
Because of the amount of photos, I’ll break this plane spotting post into 2 or 3 parts. Part 2 and 3 will follow in the next few days.
To see my other Plane Spotting related posts, please visit the Plane Spotting Index or Aero-Shots.com where you can see my growing collection (i.e. work in progress) of Airline photographs.
Cathay’s B-KQV enters the runway for her test flight
A new United 787 departs on her final test flight prior to delivery.
TK’s TV-JJV 777 approaches Paine Field
Turkish 777 touchdown after ferry flight from California where she was painted.
Singapore’s 9V-SNA prepares for a test flight.
Qatar’s 787 A7-BCS departs for a final test flight
Its not all about modern AIrliners at Paine Field…..This DC3 prepares for takeoff.
A rare sight, an ANA 777 being moved in the Boeing Factory.
KLM’s 777 (new livery) prepares for her first-ever flight.
KLM’s newest 777 approaches Paine Field
Hainan’s newest 787 minutes after being removed from the Paint Hangar.
Cathay’s B-KQV enters the runway for her test flight
A unique angle as this CX 777 executed an intentional missed approach.
Batik Air’s newest 737
American Airlines 737
Over the next month, Lufthansa will take delivery of their final 3 747-8i aircraft. When all is said and told, 19 ‘Queens of the Sky’ will be in the fleet for what should be 15-20 years. It also marks the beginning of the end of new 4-engine aircraft for Lufthansa (there are also 2 A380s set to still join the fleet).
The first 747-8i joined the fleet in 2012 and had her inaugural flight on June 1, 2012. I was fortunate to be in Frankfurt for the festivities surrounding the first 747-8i to join the fleet and now look back and see how quickly time has ‘flown’ by. Pun probably intended.
With ‘YS’ ready for delivery, it leaves D-ABYT and D-ABYU as the final 2 747-8ii that will join the fleet. ‘YT’ is the much-anticipated ‘Retro Jet’ who will sport the livery that was on Lufthansa aircraft in the 1980s. ‘YU’ should have her paint work completed this weekend and I’ll be able to bring you a few images of her as the last 747-8i that is scheduled to join the fleet.
Here is a look at the Retro Livery. She’s parked over a mile away and unfortunately a SCOOT 787 is in the way……
For now, here are several shots I took at Paine Field as ‘YS’ was put through the motions during a ‘B2’ test flight. Typically new aircraft go through three test flights: B1, B2, C1. The ‘B’ flights are conducted by Boeing pilots who troubleshoot and certify the aircraft. The C flight is conducted by the ‘Customer’ and typical involves the Airline’s pilots and technicians. Once A ‘C’ flight is completed, it is ready for delivery to the airline.
By the way, if you missed yesterday’s posted regarding LH Cargo’s last 777F delivery, click here!
Entering the taxiway towards runway 16R
Returning from B2 Flight
Over the numbers…..