Sunday, March 16, 2014

ANA operates 'Boeing 747-400 Graduation Flight'.

On March 15th, All Nippon Airways (NH/ANA) brought the Boeing 747-400D to Sendai (SDJ/RJSS) and Fukushima (FKS/RJSF) to operate 'Wings of Heart: Boeing 747-400 Graduation Flight', in support of the ongoing rebuilding of areas devastated by the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami three years ago.
Boeing 747-481/D JA8961 taxiing for departure at Haneda. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

B747-481/D JA8961, which will become the ultimate ANA 'Jumbo Jet', had the honor of operating these commemorative flights, while sister JA8960 sat at Tokyo/Haneda (HND/RJTT) as back-up. JA8961 departed Haneda at 0625 on a ferry flight to Sendai and landed at 0755, local time, after making a low flypast (flyby). 420 lucky sixth-grade students (final year of primary school) from Miyagi prefecture, chosen from a much larger number of applications, were given the opportunity to tour the aircraft from outside on the tarmac before the scenic flight. With a total of 464 persons on board including parents, staff, and media, JA8961 departed Sendai at 1000 and took the young flyers south to Mount Fuji, returning to the same airport at 1203.

Sixth-grade graduating students see off Boeing 747-481/D JA8961 from the apron at Sendai. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

After Sendai, JA8961 headed to Fukushima, arriving at 0152, local time, again after performing a low flypast. This time with 359 people on board including 180 sixth-grade students from Fukushima prefecture, their parents, staff, and media personnel, the 'Queen of the Skies' departed at 1540 and took its passengers above around Aizu, the Ou Mountains, Hanamaki, Miyako, and Iwaki, before returning to the same airport at 1720. This would become the first and last time ANA's B747 visits Fukushima, which is equipped with a 2,500-meter runway but usually only sees just a handful of domestic flights; Osaka/Itami (ITM/RJOO) is served five times daily by IBEX Airlines (FW/IBX) Bombardier CRJs and ANA Wings (EH/AKX) Bombardier DHC-8-400Qs, while Sapporo/New Chitose (CTS/RJCC) is flown twice daily with Air Do (HD/ADO) B737s.
Crowds gather to welcome Boeing 747-481/D JA8961 at Fukushima. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

Farewell celebrations took place at both Sendai and Fukushima, and JA8961 was ferried later that evening to Tokyo/Narita (NRT/RJAA) to prepare for 'Sayonara Flight Charter' and 'Kumamoto Scenic Flight' (ANA releases Boeing 747 Kumamoto charter schedule.) the following day on March 16th.

Source: Aviation Wire, March 15th. (in Japanese)

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