Tag Archives: aviation history

Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner Historic First Flight From Paine Field, Everett, WA.

10 Apr

Multimedia essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

My video camera kit had been prepared months in advance, ready in a moment’s notice for the first maiden flight of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner—21st Century entry airliner.  Finally, Dave Waggoner, the director of Paine Field Airport, queued me into the date to witness an evolutionary advance in commercial aviation.

Cameras Packed And Ready To Go

My home is only a short drive from Boeing’s production facilities at Paine Field, Everett; so I was motivated to video record this “making of 21st century aviation history.”  Due to initial production delays, an entire year went by before I received reliable news of the 787-8 wide-body, long-range airliner was ready for her much-anticipated maiden flight. The 787 Dreamliner’s first flight was at 10:27 a.m. PST, December 15, 2009.

Experienced As A Boeing Scientific Photographer

The 787 first flight ,video project brought back some great memories from my former career as an aerospace photographer with the Boeing Company.  When first hired on by the iconic, aviation leader, my assignment involved providing video support for the Everett plant’s test engineering groups, who were conducting bulkhead fatigue test on airline fuselages.  In preceding years, some airlines began experiencing  inflight catastrophic failures related to metal fatigue. Tragically  the determined cause was from the age of the aircraft, specifically, stresses created when interior cabins went through an excessive number of pressurization cycles.

An event in the 1980s, of a Boeing 737 was dramatically documented as it safely landed with a massive section of the fuselage missing. The Aloha Airlines, 737 jetliner experienced a catastrophic failure due to metal fatigue. The metal fatigue issues caused from pressurization cycles on aircraft were not clearly understood, so the FAA required engineering test to research the potential safety threat.  

A series of highly documented Test were conducted over a period of months; going through thousands of pressurized cycles.  The purpose was to recreate what a jet airliner physically experiences when the cabin is repeatedly pressured and unpressurized — as in every-time an airliner takes-off, gains altitude and eventually returns for its landing. Our team of scientific photographers had series of video cameras, strategically placed within the test bulkhead, which sat shrouded inside layers of protective coatings, in a remote section of the Everett facilities. Over-pressurizing the bulkhead eventually caused the anticipated failure, announced  by a thunderous sound of cracking metal. The  bulkhead  test was well documented using various engineering test methods and imaging equipment. Valuable test data gathered was immediately analyzed, studied and put to methodical use for redesigning, engineering and manufacturing safer jet airlines.

Examining a fuselage section of the 787 which uses composite carbon fiber materials.

Boeing’s Traditional Practice Of Over-Engineering

It’s been my experience, which confirms for me, what commercial pilots and engineers claim regarding Boeing’s reputation with its conservative practice of “over-engineering” their aircraft.  Historically, an over-engineering approach has proven itself as a life saving benefit — with countless Boeing aircraft surviving horrific damage… yet, still landing safely. Documentaries on WWII aircraft feature  shot-up Boeing aircraft returning safely, is an example of over-engineering. 

For teams performing test  monitoring, with elaborate configured structures,  attached string gauges and actuators trying to force a break of an airplane part — the aerospace test may go on for days, or even months — the experience feels like sitting in bleachers for hours while watching slow-motion glacier races in progress.  All the invested resources of  time and effort, which goes into these aerospace component test,  helps to assure the flying public’s safety and the airlines performance records.

Engineers enjoy seeing how much torturous abuse their designed support systems will take before they bend, crack or break.  At the instant  a component does finally fail [normally after  far exceeding the range of what it was designed to do] you’ll hear a loud noise caused from a test-object going beyond its limit. The sound of the breaking part, ends the tension of monitoring a test for hours or days — in an instant, the team of test engineers and technicians start cheering like a goal was scored by a home team in a stadium full of their fans.

Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner taxiing for its historic, maiden flight on December 15, 2009 from Paine Field Airport, Everett, WA.

Carbon Fiber Future In Aviation

One of many significant technological improvements for the new long-range, wide-body 787 Dreamliner, is a high percentage of composite, carbon fiber materials used in its construction. The amount of composite, materials employed in today’s aircraft have substantially increased from when it was initially developed  and used in military aircraft.  I recall, how amazingly light wing spares made of carbon fiber composite materials are, when moving them under lighting setups at Boeing’s Gateway studio.  It was fascinating observing and photographing the manufacturing of composite materials, as the process involves using massive heated autoclaves to form predesigned sections for aircraft structures.

Now, remember the bulkhead test from a previous paragraph?  Carbon fiber composites eliminates the issue of metal fatigue associated with pressurizing  passenger cabin space.  Less concerns over metal fatigue allows for more pressurization  in the cabin for passenger comfort  — more importantly, the  integrated use of composite materials ensures greater safety, with substantially less risk to the structural integrity of the airliner.

Is Boeing’s Reliance On Outsourcing The Main Culprit For The 787 Dreamliner Being Grounded In A Global Lockdown?

In the past 15 years, Boeing’s upper management has broke formation from its traditional engineering leadership and replaced it by promoting executives with business and marketing backgrounds. The current Boeing regime embraces an outsourcing strategy, unfortunately, this trend of maximizing profits for shareholders has been on going with U.S. companies for the past two decades. Negative consequences of replacing an engineering management with a business one is clearly apparent in the power transmission industry — deregulation & marketing-driven-management  in the electric power industry has significantly placed this essential infrastructure at risk [overstretched power grid, vulnerable outdated high-power transformers.] Please see my multimedia essay – Will the Last People Remaining In America, Turn the Lights Back On? : https://sciencetechtablet.wordpress.com/tag/solar-storm-testimony-to-u-s-senate/    Money_int _BPP_a223

A heavy dependence  on  foreign outsourcing is sighted as a cause for unforeseen 787 production delays. Consistent, quality control monitoring becomes problematic when components are manufactured offsite, as result these issues can sometimes lead to extended,  unanticipated problems.

photo illustration Outside vendors are capable of producing equal, if not superior quality components to that of Boeing in some technical areas. In fact, there are legions of aerospace companies in the Puget Sound region, which supply critical parts to the 787 Dreamliner’s manufacturer. Some outsourcing is absolutely necessary for Boeing to compete with Airbus. The concern is outsourcing critical components in a new airplane program, which is attempting to use technology never used in a commercial airliner. It’s ironic, li-ion batteries are at the center of the 787’s grounding — lithium batteries have been a concern for over a decade to the FAA, TSA & NTSB, even leading to bans & restrictions for passenger’s to bring on commercial flights. It’s almost hubris or a form of high-risk gambling, to “initially” rely so heavily on outside vendors [GS Yuasa, the Japanese firm making the li-ion & Thales, the French corporation making the batteries’ control systems] for producing an unproven, prototype system.  L PI CRTBD BPP et99

While working as a Boeing employee in the 1990s, I recall an incident with a vendor supplying thousands of counterfeit aircraft quality fasteners made in China. Fortunately, the fiasco was caught early — but not before many hours and dollars were lost, going back to inspect wings on the production line, to remove & replace the defective fasteners. photo illustration

Unless solid metrics are emplace to assure critical standards are met for each component, it’s only a matter of time before a failure will occur. Boeing has traditionally been an aerospace company, which “over engineers” it airplanes & errors on the side of safety. Hopefully the company has maintained & continues to practice these quality assurances

Outsourcing is practical both economically and politically for companies with international sells. It’s a successful strategy Boeing has used for many years; outsourcing has proven to provide incentives for foreign airline companies to buy Boeing aircraft, in order to support their own domestic aerospace industries.     World_box_BPP_et424

The American auto manufacture Tesla, had similar “thermal runaway” issues when first using li-ion batteries to power its Roadster. Tesla Motors, benefited from its learning curve by switching to Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries, which run at cooler temperatures. The innovative auto manufacture also developed its own battery pack architecture, with proprietary liquid cooling system packs — for controlling battery cell temperatures within self-contained, metal lined enclosures.  The nontoxic, Tesla battery packs are manufactured domestically in Northern California. Perhaps Boeing should be considering manufacturing all critical systems in-house and domestically as Tesla has done.

Boeing 747 at Everett manufacturing facilities.

Boeing 747 at Everett manufacturing facilities.


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Again, it’s to early to know the exact extent of the problem  with the 787’s battery systems. There’s no doubt, the issues will be isolated and corrected, as  Boeing has long history of thoroughly testing and over-engineering its aircraft systems. One thing is certain, it’s rare for Boeing to experience a new aircraft being grounded simultaneously by  Japan’s transport ministry and by the FAA.

Ultimately,  A Bright Future Awaits The 787 Dreamliner

Gaining profitable fuel savings by developing a lighter, wide-body aircraft, combined with the fuel-efficient, GE or Rolls Royce engines, produces a major advance for airliner capabilities.  The tangible benefits in comfort, interior lighting and convenience  contribute to a remarkable passenger experience.  All the evolutionary, technical advances in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, creates a remarkable new development  for commercial aviation. ~

Future of Flight Museum - Mount Rainier & Paine Field in background Everett, WA

Future of Flight Museum –
Mount Rainier & Paine Field in background Everett, WA

 

 

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Maiden Flight – December 15, 2009 – Paine Field, Everett, WA.  Video by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights Reserved

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Paine Field in the Pacific Northwest is becoming an aviation mecca.

27 Mar
General Aviation Day 2013, is on, Saturday, May 18th, Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. For details please visit:  http://www.painefield.com/

 
Most of the following photo/video essays can be seen in another format which features an alternative graphic style and a black background, please see:  http://bigpictureone.wordpress.com 
General Aviation Day 2012 is on Saturday, May 19th. Admission is $5. or $10. per family.  For details please visit:  http://www.painefield.com/
In
Paine Field in the Pacific Northwest is becoming an aviation mecca.
Paine Field’s, General Aviation Day takes place in mid-May, located next to a vast aviation center; including the world largest building (by volume), where Boeing/MacDonald assembles most of it’s commercial aircraft, along with an ultramodern Future of Flight museum, all clustered around an international airport.  
Photos & essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights
Wow, I knew to expect a great event from the warbirds appearing at the General Aviation Day, but I had known idea it would be so fantastic! This dynamic annual aircraft exhibition held at Paine Field in Everett, WA has one of the best settings for such an event and is becoming a major aviation mecca.”
A surprise appearance of a Boeing Dreamlifter has photographers scrambling to get a shot.
Aerial view of Paine Field Airport looking north.

Paine Field’s, General Aviation Day takes place in mid May, located next to a vast aviation center; including the world largest building, where Boeing/MacDonald assembles most of it’s commercial aircraft, along with an ultramodern Future of Flight museum, all clustered around an international airport.  Located next to these aviation assets are Paul Allen’s, (cofounder of Microsoft and commercial space visionary/developer) Flying Heritage Collection and John T. Session’s (Seattle attorney and entrepreneur) Historic Flight Foundation.

    It’s remarkable this quality of event has such minimal admission fees, yet it offers the public a rare opportunity to walk right next to these historic World War II airplanes; to look inside at flight controls and touch the aircraft aluminum skin of these fierce flying machines. Only minutes later these same vintage World War II fighters, bombers and scout planes are beginning to fire up their inline and radial engines; which sounds like a monstrous dragon clearing it’s throat until there’s just a steady roar that grabs everyone’s attention. As one airplane after another takes off and returns making multiple passes, spectators are lining the edge of the airfield and to watch in awe.

Formation flying over a navy blue warbird with her mighty wings folded.

    At midday the participating, Historic Flight Foundation open house began.  Within the Foundation’s grounds were scores of World War II aircraft, along with dozens of people in army uniforms of the era; I had to remind myself… this was not a movie I was watching, nor a dream, but an actual live event. Even Steven Spielberg couldn’t have outdone the staging for this assortment of warbirds, soldiers in uniform and military equipment of the era.

Is that Steven Spielberg
Is that Steven Spielberg wearing an aviation hat in the background? No, it’s John T Sessions, founder of Historic Flight Foundation.
Having taught history of photography courses,  I had some fun adding postmodern sepia to the photos taken at the event.

Constructed in 1936, Paine Field was a works progress administration project during the great depression. Most of the vintage collections began flying shortly after the Field started operating, so it’s fitting the warbirds are now roosting here. Inspired by history and the original purpose for these aircraft; I employed digital post production techniques for the images in an attempt to recreate a photographic “look” of the 1930’s and 1940’s. In particular, sepia-tone as well as early Kodachrome transparencies inspired my recreated images.

This image looks so authentic, as if it could’ve been taken 60 years ago.
Another birds-eye view of the warbirds.

It’s rare to see such multigenerational enthusiasm for a public event. Especially seen within children and adolescent’s eyes were  genuine looks of awe and wonder from what these aircraft inspire. Seeing the kids excitement resonated with my own memories about aviation when I was a youth. The fact that these historic fighters and bombers were not just static displays — but actually flying at “tree-top-levels”  — whose roaring, rumbling engines you could feel, hear, and smell –captivated every age-group’s attention.

Cub Scouts enjoying the day, viewing vintage aircraft making fly-overs.

Being that my house is only minutes away by car, I enjoy taking photos from my backyard of visiting warbirds in the days before and after the event. Within easy reach is my ever-ready camera with a telephoto lens mounted, so I’m always ready when that rare vintage aircraft makes a surprise appearance overhead.

I look forward to the coming years to see how this show will grow and receive even greater support from the public.

A beautiful day for a vintage air show.

One particular image in the photomontage series below, captures the wonder within faces of a group of youth standing underneath the wing of a Historic Flight Foundation bomber, just as an aircraft roars nearby. The adage –“a picture, tells a thousand words” applies to this one; but also simply put…  a face can sum it up with just one… wow!

Hope for the future, by remembering the past.
Female pilot inspects the B25 she’s ready to take into the sky.

Here’s my flying quote of the day — “Both optimist and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.” ~ Gil Ster

Look, up in the sky it’s a tight formation of warbirds.
Yes, that tough cat really does have claws.
“Navy blue” ready for takeoff with a ribbon of Cascade Mountains in background.
Looking and touching is encouraged for a great live interactive experience.
An awesome flyby with two fighters accompanying a B25 bomber.
Up close and personal views of warbird taxing for takeoff.
Plane spotting groupie at Paine Field’s GAD vintage airshow.
This warbird isn’t shy and knows how to be a crowd pleaser!
Never a dull moment for a full house, and plenty of flybys to see.
For over three generations these warbirds still inspire awe on the faces of youth and elders alike.
Something for the entire family to enjoy.
Another target rich environment for a photographer.
Inspired by the wings of flight.
A target rich environment for airplane spotting photographers.
This vintage navy warbird gets ready to fly by modern Boeing airliners.
Mom and dad with kids in tow to see a great show.
A sunshine halo encircles vintage warbirds returning home from a successful flight.
Father and son with a birds-eye view from top of the world.

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