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The Long Long Night

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The Long Long Night

With all this talk of the New Queen I thought I'd return to the first one, the PMDG FS9 744, still looking good and flying nicely after all this time.

Back story is that Qantas had some tech problems with a few of their 380s so sent a 747-400 (ER fortunately) to Dallas. That means 100 less seats so cue lots of rebooking and disrupted passengers.

We join the fray in Dallas waiting to bring the aircraft back (QFA 8). When the jumbo did this route regularly it used to stop in Brisbane but since the 380 it usually goes direct; which is what we're going to try and do. Going Westbound not only do we have 100 less seats but we're quite limited on fuel capacity due headwinds and because we're taking a slightly longer route today, there is turbulence forecast on our great circle route so we're going via Hawaii. If we lose the cargo, use Cost Index 0, plan to 95% statistical contingency (I didn't use Qantas' fuel policy, I used the policy at my airline - don't want to confuse myself) and use a fuel diversion, RAAF Base Richmond (we can go there if something happens at YSSY but commercially it would be a nightmare, however the weather is forecast to be fine in YSSY so the chances of us having to use it are slim, it's legal and safe but a slight commercial risk for a big commercial gain) we are still limited to about 197t ZFW (about 130 pax). As much as I like the 747 it simply can't take as many people as far as the 380.

The 380 wasn't full and they've known about this for a few days so most pax have been rebooked on other flights or via other routes and in the end we have 132 people plus a few infants. The lack of first class on Qantas 747s hasn't helped but business and economy plus is about the same. The premium cabins are pretty much full but down the back we're very lightly loaded. We're planned to within a few hundred kgs of our max fuel capacity, comfortably within our ZFW, Ramp Weight, MTOW and MLW and nowhere near the take off performance limiting weight.

Flightaware record for the flight.

Here's the PFPX summary, using KLAX, PHNL and NFFN (Fiji) as our nominated enroute LROPS airfields.


We're due off at 22:00 local (14:00 in Sydney - the next day - a remarkably civilised time for the crew to be going to work). The plan is to arrive at 06:05 local (13:05 the day before in Dallas) but with a block time of 15 hours and a flight time of 16:59 it doesn't look likely we'll be on time. With relatively few passengers they should be able to board quickly so hopefully we can get away promptly.

They don't see the Qantas 747 here much any more, the BA one is here most days but this one has a kangaroo on it, so it must be better! Here we are getting cleaned, catered, refuelled and loaded up for the night ahead.



Entering our workspace for the next 18 hours...


Despite our best efforts, we left exactly 1 minute late, some last minute paperwork troubles left us playing catch up. Still considered "on time" by most metrics but not how we wanted to start the flight.


Waiting for the ground crew's clearance (you can just see him in the bottom right corner)


Fortunately there were no further delays to the push or the departure in general and we had a 14 minute taxi.


Waiting for an Embraer to depart then it's our turn.


"Setting Thrust"




At that time of night there wasn't too much traffic and we received pretty expeditious vectors and we made our way slowly up to out initial cruise altitude of FL320. As expected, straight into a 70kt headwind.


As the title of this post suggests, it was dark... it was dark when we took off and we flew into an ever lengthening night. There was nothing to see for most of the time spent in the air. Initially cost index 0 was giving us a cruise speed of around 0.78 which was well in the yellow on the speed scale so we went to LRC which brought us much closer to what PFPX was expecting. As time wore on it turned out to be a little quicker...

This was all that happened for many many hours...


Fast forward about 14 hours and we're at FL380 and there's some evidence of morning...


Well into the descent now, the evidence is mounting.


Finally over terra firma and getting vectored through the overhead for a right hand circuit for 16R.


Final approach with the Opera House and Bridge in the background.


"1000" - "Stable".


Sorry, no landing pics; but we did and here we are vacating right.


It was a fairly quick taxi onto stand at the international terminal.


Once everyone was off, no engineers had been seen so we secured it and left to go home at last.


Looks very familiar to when we first walked in some 18 hours previously but 7,800nm away.

We ended up burning 167497Kgs fuel enroute (a bit less than the plan) and it took us 16Hrs 35 mins (also a bit less than the plan - I guess the winds weren't quite as bad as the plan suggested) but we were still about 1 hour late.

Final times were:

          Sched    Z        DFW    SYD
Out    0400    0401    2201    1401
Off                 0415    2215    1415
On                 2050    1450    0650
In       2000    2057    1457    0657

Total fuel burn 170046Kgs

All pictures have been lightened slightly.

Hope you all enjoyed, now back to that new Queen...


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