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NASA's 747s: Truly Unique Civil Aviation Uses?  
User currently offlineEksath From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1305 posts, RR: 25
Posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 5820 times:
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NASA's two 747 are ex-American Airlines and Japan Airlines and were original standard aircraft. Are there any other big commericial civilian jets re-enginered for specialized uses ? I dont mean Biz jets.


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29 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineSoBe From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 256 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 5754 times:

Off the top my head here are recent examples not yet completed.


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[Edited 2005-12-18 23:27:18]

User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 977 posts, RR: 51
Reply 2, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 5736 times:

Another NASA application, the SOFIA telescope:



The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a joint project of NASA, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) who are providing the telescope. SOFIA is a Boeing 747SP airliner modified to carry a 2.5 meter diameter reflecting telescope for infrared astronomy observations at altitudes of about 41,000 feet (~12 km) in the stratosphere. Its flight capability will allow it to rise above almost all of the water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere (allowing observations at some infrared wavelengths which are blocked by the atmosphere before reaching ground-based facilities), as well as travel to almost any point on the earth's surface for observations. The telescope looks out of a large door in the side of the fuselage near the airplane's tail, and will initially carry nine instruments for infrared astronomy in wavelengths from 0.35–655 micrometres.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stratos...Observatory_for_Infrared_Astronomy


User currently offlineN1120A From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 26495 posts, RR: 75
Reply 3, posted (8 years 9 months 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 5575 times:

GE owns a 741 that they use as their engine test bed. It has flown around with engines varying from the CFM56 to the GE-90-115B


Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
User currently offlineEksath From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1305 posts, RR: 25
Reply 4, posted (8 years 9 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 5417 times:
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Quoting N1120A (Reply 3):
SOFIA is a Boeing 747SP airliner modified to carry a 2.5 meter diameter reflecting telescope for infrared astronomy observations at altitudes of about 41,000 feet (~12 km) in the stratosphere.

wow..that would be interesting..opening a section of fusleage at 41,000 feet and in cruise on a 747 SP (if that is what the picture above means by the black section)  . Did not know about this. Thanks.

[Edited 2005-12-19 14:27:27]

[Edited 2005-12-19 14:28:08]


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User currently offlineStuckinMAF From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (8 years 9 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 5384 times:

Here are a couple of my favorites, of course these particular airframes never entered passener carrying service, but I think they fit your description:


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Photo © Bruce Highland




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Photo © Peachair



User currently offlineSBN580 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 401 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (8 years 9 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 5250 times:

NASA has had a number of airliners used for other purposes besides the 747 SCAs. I had the pleasure of working with those and others at the Dryden Flight Research Center in the 1990s. In the Airliners.net database I see we have these:

DC-8 Flying laboratory. Not used for flight research, but environmental and astronomical observations. In the late '90s Dryden's mission was diversified more than just purely flight research. This DC-8 was part of that initiative. It had been at NASA Ames, but HQ was phasing Ames out of flying aircraft. Kind of sad. Ames' loss, but Dryden's gain. As an airliner fan, I was happy!

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Photo © John Higgins - AirTeamImages



TU-144 This aircraft was used for a joint US/Russia research project. While genuine data was gained from the program, it was also a friendship gesture to the Russian aerospace programs of the newly post-Soviet era. One of my colleagues got to go to Zhukovsky on the project. I did get to meet some of the Tupolev engineers when they visited Dryden. Very proud and friendly guys. They were impressed with my knowledge of their design bureau. They gave me a Tupolev pin and I layed on them the little Russian I know. Too bad they never brought her over to the states.

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CV-990 This aircraft had a number of uses in its NASA career, but I remember it for it's last. A Space Shuttle main landing gear was attached to her belly. The test was to truly see how much pressure could a Shuttle main gear take. Data from this was to increase make KSC Florida landings more likely no matter the weight of the payload. Until then, when the mission payload were of a certain weight, Dryden/Edwards was seen as a better choice because of the longer runway and lakebed landing strips. One day, I was taping the test and well, we reached the limit. The tire blew and the special made assembly hit the runway. A fourth of July fireworks show ensued! "Stop test! Stop test!" was shouted over the comm. Whew! For a moment, I was worried that something would ignite. The pilot hit the brakes and the test fixture was lifted. That tire was shredded and the underside of the 990 had a big black smudge aft of the test fixture.

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Photo © Ben Wang



Just some of the fun at Dryden. Good folks, doing great work most people don't even realize. Sadly, NASA Langley's 757 and 737 did not get out to Dryden for a visit in my time there. We did use the MD-11 prototype for a neat experiment that fixed the harrowing fate of the DC-10 Sioux City incident. Airlines would not buy the fix though. Dumb! So, I always was stoked when the airliners were around.  cloudnine 
To whit the engineers would say, "Transports! Transports! Who cares about those?!" I would just  laughing . For more info and more cool images of these planes and others in their NASA glory go to: http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/Gallery/Photo/index.html



North Central: Good People Made Their Airline Great! FLY MD-90 POWER! Keep 'em Flying DELTA Family!
User currently offline787engineer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 572 posts, RR: 15
Reply 7, posted (8 years 9 months 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 5197 times:

NASA also has, well had, a KC-135/Boeing 707 "Weightless Wonder" converted for weightless simulation and training of astronauts. You've probably heard of it by its more common name: The Vomit Comet. The plane was retired just a few months ago, and they're working on modifying a DC-9 to serve the same purpose. The project to modify the DC-9 (like most NASA projects) is way behind schedule. I was scheduled to fly on it this past March as part of the NASA's RGSFOP (Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program), and it doesn't seem like the plane will be ready until this coming April. And. . . useless trivia fact: several of the weightless scenes in the movie Apollo 13 were filmed on the Vomit Comet.

User currently offline474218 From United States of America, joined Oct 2005, 6340 posts, RR: 9
Reply 8, posted (8 years 9 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 5085 times:

Orbital Science Corporation uses a modified L-1011 for launching the Pegasus rocket that puts small satellites into orbit.

http://www.orbital.com/SpaceLaunch/Pegasus/index.html


User currently offlineStuckinMAF From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (8 years 9 months 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 5016 times:

Quoting 474218 (Reply 8):
Orbital Science Corporation uses a modified L-1011 for launching the Pegasus rocket that puts small satellites into orbit.

That's really awesome! Thanks so much for providing the link!


User currently offlineAsstChiefMark From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (8 years 9 months 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 4996 times:

Not your typical DC-10:


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Photo © Chris Goodyear
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Photo © K.S. Weber



Not your typical L1011:


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Photo © Justin Cederholm
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Photo © R. W. Whitlock - Nikon D70



User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17040 posts, RR: 66
Reply 11, posted (8 years 9 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 4975 times:

First off, you have ye olde Soviet/Russian NASA 747 equivalents.

The first Buran carrier, VM-T Atlant, since superseded by the better known An-225. It was adapted from the Bison bomber. Nowadays it flies rocket tanks and other big objects:

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The Seismosaurus of the Skies, the mighty An-225:

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Photo © Chris Brown
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Photo © Eric Coeckelberghs




And while we're on specialized versions, I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Beluga yet:

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Photo © Jörg Tegen
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Photo © Josep Tomas - Iberian Spotters



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"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineEksath From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1305 posts, RR: 25
Reply 12, posted (8 years 9 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 4944 times:
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Wow..so many greats replies! thanks everyone

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 11):
First off, you have ye olde Soviet/Russian NASA 747 equivalents.

The first Buran carrier, VM-T Atlant, since superseded by the better known An-225. It was adapted from the Bison bomber. Nowadays it flies rocket tanks and other big objects:

Yes. They are nice but not commercial civilian aircraft in their first life which is what i was looking for. Also, did the Belugas start off in regular service? Thanks for the info,though. Smile



World Wide Aerospace Photography
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17040 posts, RR: 66
Reply 13, posted (8 years 9 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 4934 times:

Quoting Eksath (Reply 12):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 11):
First off, you have ye olde Soviet/Russian NASA 747 equivalents.

The first Buran carrier, VM-T Atlant, since superseded by the better known An-225. It was adapted from the Bison bomber. Nowadays it flies rocket tanks and other big objects:

Yes. They are nice but not commercial civilian aircraft in their first life which is what i was looking for. Also, did the Belugas start off in regular service? Thanks for the info,though.

Ok good point. But the question is sort of open for interpretation. Did you mean actual aircraft examples that have seen commercial service or just models that have seen aircraft service.

In any case, the Beluga was based on the A300-600, but they were built that way from scratch. They didn't take an A300 and chop it up.

The predecessors of the Belugas, the Guppies, HAD actually been in commercial service prior to fattening up:

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Photo © Ellis M. Chernoff




Also, the future 747 fatboys will also have been in service, as Boeing is buying two pre-owned aircraft back for conversion (actually I'm not really sure if Boeing is doing the conversion themselves, or a subsidiary, or someone else):
http://www.boeing.com/commercial/787family/gallery/747in_flt.html



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineEksath From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1305 posts, RR: 25
Reply 14, posted (8 years 9 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 4913 times:
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Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 13):
Ok good point. But the question is sort of open for interpretation. Did you mean actual aircraft examples that have seen commercial service or just models that have seen aircraft service.

I was looking for aircraft's that started off on their usual civilian commercial role and then were used for specialized uses such as these. So they were reengineered to their new role or mission ( i guess you could say all freighter conversions fall into this catergory too but they are so common and hence not as spectacular). The examples above are great and spot on. I wonder if there are more out there.



World Wide Aerospace Photography
User currently offlineSBN580 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 401 posts, RR: 3
Reply 15, posted (8 years 9 months 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 4783 times:

Quoting 474218 (Reply 8):
Orbital Science Corporation uses a modified L-1011 for launching the Pegasus rocket that puts small satellites into orbit.

How could I forget about the OSC L-1011! Also used on the X-34 program.



North Central: Good People Made Their Airline Great! FLY MD-90 POWER! Keep 'em Flying DELTA Family!
User currently offline787engineer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 572 posts, RR: 15
Reply 16, posted (8 years 9 months 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 4774 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 13):
I'm not really sure if Boeing is doing the conversion themselves, or a subsidiary, or someone else

EGAT a company based it Taiwan is in charge of the coversion.

http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2005/q1/nr_050218g.html


User currently offlineSonic67 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 292 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (8 years 9 months 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 4657 times:

What about the Air Force's 747 laser?

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User currently offlineN328KF From United States of America, joined May 2004, 6485 posts, RR: 3
Reply 18, posted (8 years 9 months 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 4637 times:

Quoting Sonic67 (Reply 17):
What about the Air Force's 747 laser?

See the topic. Seems like a rather uncivil application.  Wink



When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.' T.Roosevelt
User currently offlineFanofjets From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 1984 posts, RR: 3
Reply 19, posted (8 years 9 months 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 4618 times:

Many airliners were used as a restaurant:

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The aeroplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
User currently offlineSBN580 From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 401 posts, RR: 3
Reply 20, posted (8 years 9 months 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 4523 times:

Quoting Sonic67 (Reply 17):
What about the Air Force's 747 laser?

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Photo © Chris Banyai-Riepl


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All I can say is, "Hey watch where you are pointing that thing!"



North Central: Good People Made Their Airline Great! FLY MD-90 POWER! Keep 'em Flying DELTA Family!
User currently offlineFanofjets From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 1984 posts, RR: 3
Reply 21, posted (8 years 9 months 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 4411 times:

And now for something completely different... a stuntman will strap himself to the top of a Douglas DC-8 and name himself "The Human Fly."

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Photo © AirNikon
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Photo © Steve Brimley



I also recall reading about a French car commercial produced in the mid 1980s, in which a Citroen sedan was fastened atop a Boeing 707, in a fashion similar to that of the shuttle. This was the aircraft involved (VT-DVA Anapoorna:

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Photo © Yoshiaki Hoshina
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Photo © Fergal Goodman



While talking about child's play, how about an Ilyushin Il-18 playground?

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Photo © Paul Spijkers
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Photo © TZ Aviation




The aeroplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
User currently offlineEksath From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1305 posts, RR: 25
Reply 22, posted (8 years 9 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4347 times:
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A 744 refueller...anybody got anything on this?




World Wide Aerospace Photography
User currently offlineStuckinMAF From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (8 years 9 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 4249 times:

Quoting Eksath (Reply 22):

WOW! That 747 makes even the B-52 look small!


User currently offlineVzlet From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 835 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (8 years 9 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 4241 times:

Quoting Eksath (Reply 22):
A 744 refueller...anybody got anything on this?


As operated by Iran:

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Photo © Peter de Groot




"That's so stupid! If they're so secret, why are they out where everyone can see them?" - my kid
25 Eksath : Thanks!..Hmm.,..Do the USAF 747s have this capability too?
26 S12PPL : Just a question because I don't know any better.... Did the Russian copy cat of the US Space Shuttle ever take flight into orbit?
27 Post contains images AJO : Check out these weird antennae: the above are based on EMB-145 design; the aircraft depicted haven't had another (commercial) use prior to being fitte
28 TaromA380 : Yes. Once. In a radio commanded takeoff/flight/landing, without crew. After that successful flight, the entire program was aborted because of lack of
29 HaveBlue : This photo was taken during trials of a Boeing 747 with a USAF B-52. The USAF never adopted the 747 for the tanker role though.
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