Nippon Cargo Airlines took delivery of its first 747-8F back on July 25, 2012, but that aircraft, JA13KZ (msn: 36138) wasn’t chronologically the first 747-8F to be built for the Japanese carrier. The first two 747-8Fs for NCA were actually part of the 747-8F test program, as N5017Q (which will become JA11KZ, msn: 36136) and N50217 (seen here as JA12KZ, msn: 36137). The aircraft seen here previously wore the Boeing house colors during the test program, and then was refurbished after testing at Boeing’s San Antonio facility.
JA12KZ is now undergoing the standard pre-delivery tests after its return from San Antonio (by way of Victorville) on November 7, 2012 – delivery is expected soon.
Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA) placed an order for eight 747-8Fs in November of 2005, followed by an additional order for six in March of 2007. This total makes NCA the largest 747-8F customer to date, though deliveries began a bit later than other customers. NCA was still operating 747 classics when the -8F orders were placed, but retired the classics by the end of 2008. This resulted in NCA having a very young fleet comprised entirely of 747-400Fs, but the fleet age is poised to lower again as -8Fs come online, presumably to replace older -400Fs.
Interestingly, the -8F order was the first placed by NCA that had no connection with All Nippon Airways. NCA was established in 1978 as a joint venture between Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Nippon Yusen (more commonly known as sea freight giant NYK Line, part of the Mitsubishi group). In 2005, ANA sold its stake to NYK and later brought ANA Cargo in-house using a 767 fleet. In 2010, NCA’s main domestic competitor, JAL Cargo, closed as a result of the parent company Japan Airlines’ bankruptcy. NCA works in concert today with NYK’s spectacularly large ocean fleet – comprised of more than 700 vessels of many different types.
There are many aircraft in this ice-cold Sunday morning scene – including three additional 747-8Fs; the first aircraft for Polar (seen here last week) sits beside other 747-8Fs for Cathay Pacific Airways (B-LJC, msn: 39240) and Cargolux (fellow test aircraft – LX-VCA/msn: 35808). Two 787-8s can be seen for Qatar and United.
In the far distance, the prototype Boeing 727-100, N7001U (msn: 18293), now part of the Museum of Flight’s restoration collection, is seen alongside a mostly hidden DeHavilland Comet 4C and Honeywell’s Convair 580 avionics test airplane.
© Photographer: Alex Kwanten