Delftblue Dreaming

KLM 777-300ER

Whoa! Outside of an air show this is not a sight you can usually see from the ground – and even then, it’s rare to see any flying display by a 777-300ER other than the typical low pass or fly-by.

So what’s happening here? This new KLM 777 (msn: 38867, registration PH-BVG), named “Nationaal Park Wolong” after the Wolong National Nature Reserve in China’s Qionglai mountans, is departing on its delivery flight to Amsterdam – in spectacular fashion.

A crowd had assembled late in the afternoon at Paine field to watch warbird practice for a father’s day event – P-51 Mustangs, T6 Texans, Spitfires, even a Focke-Wulf 190 and a B-17 bomber flew in the early evening. To the delight of the crowd, the KLM pilots departed with a massive wing wave – a move not unheard of on delivery flights (not just for KLM) and also done last year on another KLM 777-300ER delivery. What looks like a big banking turn is actually the most extreme angle of the wave. The control surfaces on the wings show that the plane is about to return to regular flight. Keen eyed observers will also note the vortices forming over the engines.

Since April of 2004, Boeing has delivered 340 777-300ERs – the largest twin-engine aircraft in the world and one of the most in-demand passenger planes. The 777-300ER isn’t just good as a passenger plane, however – it offers space for 8 96″x125″ pallets in the forward hold and up to 20 LD3’s aft. As a result, operators like Emirates, Qatar, EVA Air, KLM, Air France, Cathay Pacific, ANA, JAL, and many more are finding that these aircraft can generate considerable cargo revenue on top of their improved passenger economics (many have replaced 747 classics or even older-build 747-400s).

“Delftblue” refers to the Delftware (a blue-and-white pottery originating in the Dutch city of Delft, home of Vermeer) decanters given out by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to first class passengers for the last sixty years. It may also have been partial inspiration for the airline’s distinctive blue-and-white livery.

©Photographer: Alex Kwanten.

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