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the last 747, SFO-SYD…

Wednesday March 26, 2014

Filed under: flight nerdery — jackman @ 8:23 am

Tonight is United’s last 747 on the Sydney run out of SFO. From tomorrow night it will be 777s servicing UAL 863 SFO-SYD.

It will be a nicer coach class experience in the 777s, but a longer flight with the 777s slightly slower cruising speed.

Farewell to seat 14K upstairs, visiting the cockpit prior to pushing back, and all that.

And no more views like this, United’s return flight 870 (SYD-SFO) banking right over Sydney after taking off from 34L at SYD (click for larger version):

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MH370 hypotheses

Tuesday March 11, 2014

Filed under: flight nerdery — jackman @ 6:07 pm

A Payne Stewart type event? Here’s a version of that: realizing that they are being overwhelmed by hypoxia, the crew sets the autopilot for a left turn towards a nearby airport and a lower altitude? But it is too little too late. The crew’s incapacitated, the AP flys the settings input by the crew as they are literally losing consciousness, west and lower…

Fanciful, I know, and wouldn’t seem to explain the loss of the transponder.

And if loss of cabin pressure prompts the crew to descend – an emergency situation – then they’d almost surely shed the altitude manually, and in a hurry, not by dialing in a new altitude on the autopilot.

Then again, previous cases involving crew incapacitation due to hypoxia point to all kinds of impaired decision-making.

Hijacking gone wrong must surely be another candidate hypothesis at this stage.

In any event, I wonder about radar coverage out into the Indian Ocean, west of Aceh, south of Sri Lanka. I’m guessing that there’s not a lot there.

With fuel + reserve for a flight from KL to Beijing, suppose the plane had another four or five hours of fuel from the reported point of last radar contact, and continued on this reported “westerly” heading. Then there is a chance MH370 wound up flying a lot further West, perhaps somewhere roughly between the 8pm and 9pm point on the circled area, below (from Great Circle mapper, a circle with 2500mi radius centered on Kuala Lumpur):

map

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pavement failure at YSSY

Monday September 9, 2013

Filed under: flight nerdery — jackman @ 10:17 pm

So this is a little odd:

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 9.45.53 PM

“Pavement failure” has closed 34L/16R at Sydney airport, the longest runway here (3962m, or 13,000 feet), typically used for heavy departures (and, in my flying experience out of YSSY, exclusively).

We were literally at the door of UAL870 (YSSY-KSFO) when they turned us back (hello, AirNZ Lounge, again).

There is a thumping breeze out of the West, so 25 seems to be the only active runway. I just saw a Virgin A340 get off 25 (2530m or 8300 feet), which was a little spectacular from the vantage point of the AirNZ Lounge overlooking the west end of 25:

Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 10.02.20 PM

Oh, and note that temperature reading in the ATIS, above. 33C. What the hell? Apparently there is a southerly change coming our way shortly, which will be most welcome.

No word on the prognosis… Can a 744 loaded with pax and fuel for 12-13hrs get off in 8300 feet with a thumping headwind?

Update: So this is cool. So I’m sitting in the upper deck of this flight now, got to visit the cockpit and asked the crew what’s up. 34L is repaired and we intend to go out on that runway. The UAL LAX flight is going out ahead of us on that runway right now.

The LAX and SFO bound 744s carry too much fuel for the shorter runways here at Sydney; over 300,000 lbs of fuel.

An A380 headed for Singapore did get off 25 just before (nice of that from the cockpit). The UAL guys said that they can get off 7/25 in the 744s if they are only going to Melbourne.

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low altitude alert on 28L, SFO, portent of Asiana crash?

Monday July 8, 2013

Filed under: flight nerdery,general — jackman @ 4:36 pm

So the Asiana crash landing at SFO reminded me of the following weird coincidence.

One week ago, on July 1, I flew SFO-LHR on UAL 930. The pilot piped through ATC on Ch 9 (one of the nerdy things I like about flying United).

Just before we were given our takeoff clearance, SFO tower alerted an incoming flight to 28L that it was too low. The flight in question was UAL 1601 (IAH-SFO).

28L is the same runway that Asiana was trying to land on, with ILS out this summer; they’ve being doing some work on the runway there.

I went to the liveatc.net audio archive to download the KSFO tower comms from that day and time (mp3). Note that liveatc.net timestamps in Zulu time and stores 30 minute archives.

At about the 23:38 minute mark comes the low altitude alert from SFO tower to UAL 1601:

TWR: “Low altitude alert United 1601, check your altitude. San Francisco altimeter two niner eight three”.

A brief response follows, presumably from UAL 1601.

At the time I thought “wow, you don’t hear that often”. And I forgot all about it until the Asiana crash.

Pretty cool you can go recover that from liveatc.net.

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Static discharge from laptop after airport scanning

Friday January 18, 2013

Filed under: flight nerdery — jackman @ 3:52 am

This happens to me so often. I’ve developed a Pavlovian hesitation when reaching for my laptop after its been through the X-ray scanner.

I wonder if its socks interacting with floor or something, since I’m usually still shoes off when it happens (I think).

Anyway… Ouch.

Just another thing for the TSA people to giggle at…

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Australians do it longer…

Sunday May 27, 2012

Filed under: flight nerdery — jackman @ 3:30 pm

Janet got back this morning from visiting family in Brisbane. She went on Star Alliance miles, with the return we could find being via Singapore and Narita (not the most direct BNE-SFO routing).

Janet flew over 20,000 miles flown on this trip. That is the equivalent of 4 SFO-JFK roundtrips, or about 2 SFO-LHR roundtrips. And this is the West coast of the US to the East coast of Australia. NYC – Perth via DFW and BNE is 11,940 miles, which is an awful long way for a family visit.

Interesting coincidence that BNE is basically on the GC route between AKL and SIN, and that NRT is close to the SIN-SFO GC.

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United web site redesign post-merger is awful

Tuesday March 6, 2012

Filed under: flight nerdery,type — jackman @ 11:32 am

Awful. So we get some nicer planes on UAL from CO (738s, in seat-power in Economy Plus). But the UAL web site looked at least half-decent.

My quick sense is that they’ve imported a lot of elements from the CO site, and it looks awful, IMHO, at least compared to the old UAL site.

How many different typefaces have been jammed onto this page? And images? Even the word “United” appears in FOUR different typefaces.

Screenshot below (click to open up thumbnail), with my personal details blocked out:

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UAL 870 daily overflight

Wednesday February 29, 2012

Filed under: flight nerdery — jackman @ 8:00 pm

“Hello old friend.”

The United flight from Sydney comes in around about 10.30am every morning. If the 28s are being used SFO arrivals, we get an overflight or close to it: the flights from Hawaii, Auckland or Sydney typically arrive via the Woodside VORTAC (OSI) to intercept the 28 localizer, almost always on a vector that tracks right over Stanford and Palo Alto or Menlo Park.

Screenshot from PlaneFinderHD; click on the thumbnail.

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Cargolux refuses delivery of 747-800; Reno; camera lens falls from sky

Friday September 16, 2011

Filed under: flight nerdery — jackman @ 10:36 pm

Cargolux was due to take delivery of a freighter edition of the new 747-800 on Monday. There was much fanfare scheduled up in Everett to celebrate the 1st delivery of the 748s. But today Cargolux has announced it is refusing to take delivery. No details as to why: “unresolved issues” are what the parties are saying in press releases. But are the issues performance-related, or something else?

Horrible news and images from Reno.

And a photographer dropped a Canon lens from a sightseeing flight of some kind over Petaluma, with the lens punching a hole in the roof of a house. Terminal velocity for a Canon lens?

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Seattle aircraft spotting

Thursday September 1, 2011

Filed under: flight nerdery — jackman @ 2:36 pm

In a 10 min span I saw a 747-800 and a 787 fly low in-bound to Boeing Field. 787 in ANA livery. Pure luck, happened to look up while out and about for lunch; grabbed my iPad to verify what I was seeing (PlanePlotter, Flightaware).

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