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787 White Engine Cowling  
User currently offlineCambridgeFlyer1 From UK - England, joined Jun 2012, 40 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 12097 times:

Hi guys,

I have noticed now all the 787's have very similar white/grey engine cowling. It is especially noticeable with the Air India 787's as the orange/red cowling usually makes the livery look complete.

I was wondering, why isn't it ever a different colour?

Thanks,

CF

25 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinesphealey From United States of America, joined May 2005, 378 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 11959 times:

What we were told during the design phase was that the thickness and edges of the paint on the nacelles had to be controlled precisely to achieve the desired airflow for both performance and noise control, and the required precision ruled out different colors (or perhaps more to the point, the eventual repainting of those colors under less controlled conditions).

Whether or that that was/is true I don't think anyone but the engineer with design authority over that area can truly say. Made a good story for Boeing back in those milk-and-honey early days of the 787 project though.

sPh


User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31420 posts, RR: 85
Reply 2, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 11735 times:
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Building on what sphealey noted above, Boeing specifies a standard thickness of grey paint for the nacelle inlet to ensure a natural laminar flow. This is a seamless paint layer, as opposed to the multiple-layer paint that many airline liveries call for.

At the time, Boeing claimed that an airline could save over 100,000 liters of fuel per year due to allowing the laminar flow to extend farther back along the engine.

A FlightGlobal article from 2006 provides more details: http://www.flightglobal.com/news/art...787s-in-bid-to-reduce-fuel-207769/

[Edited 2012-07-01 07:22:12]

User currently offlineghifty From United States of America, joined Jul 2010, 891 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 10389 times:

As the above have already stated it's to achieve laminar air flow.. or something. But, I also recall reading a thread on this same topic where, I think, somebody said it is an option to paint the engines in X livery.


Fly Delta Jets
User currently offlinepoLOT From United States of America, joined Jul 2011, 2366 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 10269 times:

One thing I have always wondered is must the paint be grey or white, or is any solid color fine as wrong as it is the right thickness? I have never seen a source that comes out and explicitly say so either way.

User currently offlineglideslope From United States of America, joined May 2004, 1628 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 8713 times:

I believe it was the paint that was required for the specific thickness (thin) could only be white or light grey. Other colors need to be applied thicker. Not positive though.

[Edited 2012-07-01 17:36:07]


To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.” Sun Tzu
User currently offlineflylku From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 829 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 8524 times:

Heard the same thing. This nacelle must be design specifically with this in mind or the same technique could be applied to other aircraft.


...are we there yet?
User currently offlinefaro From Egypt, joined Aug 2007, 1620 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 6740 times:

Quoting ghifty (Reply 3):
As the above have already stated it's to achieve laminar air flow.. or something.

IIRC, it is to *maintain* laminar flow for as long as possible over the nacelle. The laminar flow is initially achieved via the super-smooth, extended, non-painted metallic nacelle leading edge which is a first in an airliner. If you look closely you will note that this leading edge is longer and fatter than on traditional nacelles.


Faro



The chalice not my son
User currently onlinezululima From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 338 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 6608 times:

Quoting glideslope (Reply 5):
I believe it was the paint that was required for the specific thickness (thin) could only be white or light grey. Other colors need to be applied thicker. Not positive though.

This would seem to be the opposite of what you'd expect. Black is the best for being thin, white takes a lot more thickness to cover the underlying color. If this is true for model planes and house walls, no reason it wouldn't be for nacelles.

The 'one color only' argument has sounded like BS since it first emerged. If there are now an unlimited number of colors for the radome chip-resistant paint and nose visor paint, why not for the 787 engines? Are Boeing telling us that they simply couldn't make a nacelle 1mm thinner to allow for painting? Even so, everyone who works the ramp knows the laminar flow thing will never last long. Airliners may look all glossy, smooth, and polished from typical viewing distances, but up close they have all kinds of minor dings, repaints, dirt accumulations, and so forth (not to mention FAA mandated safety placarding). The fuel savings from the white-only engines will never be realized IMO. Better to have a complete livery for branding's sake. It may only take one rogue airline to try this before they all follow suit and the white engine thing becomes a "hey you remember whey they tried this way back when the 787 was new?" kind of situation.



I didn't get a 'Harumph' outta that guy!
User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31420 posts, RR: 85
Reply 9, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 6600 times:
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Quoting zululima (Reply 8):
The 'one color only' argument has sounded like BS since it first emerged. If there are now an unlimited number of colors for the radome chip-resistant paint and nose visor paint, why not for the 787 engines?

Well I doubt it was laziness on the part of Boeing's paint shop that drove this decision. And if airlines didn't buy into it, they easily could have forced Boeing to allow them to have their nacelles painted in whatever color they wanted. The Boeing house colors have a blue bottom half to the nacelles, and early 7E7 and 787 concept artwork showed this. Yet when ZA001 was rolled out, she had the solid white nacelles of all other airframes.

I imagine white was chosen because it is a neutral color that won't overtly clash with the liveries of the customers. Most liveries are predominately white, anyway.

[Edited 2012-07-02 09:33:36]

User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 10, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 6532 times:

Quoting zululima (Reply 8):
Are Boeing telling us that they simply couldn't make a nacelle 1mm thinner to allow for painting?

Technically, that's certainly possible, but it would mean re-doing the stress analysis for the whole nacelle and then doing NAMS testing over again to prove you didn't screw it up. There's no way that would pay off just to allow a different paint job.

Quoting zululima (Reply 8):
It may only take one rogue airline to try this before they all follow suit and the white engine thing becomes a "hey you remember whey they tried this way back when the 787 was new?" kind of situation.

Risky; doing so would almost instantly forfeit the airline's right to bitch about the fuel consumption because Boeing would just say "We told you not to paint it.".

I rather suspect the underlying reason, besides the laminar flow nacelle (which is true, it's obvious when you see it side-by-side with an earlier nacelle), is supply chain management. You can have the nacelle pre-painted way earlier in the production system if you don't have to worry about livery.

Tom.


User currently offlineferpe From France, joined Nov 2010, 2805 posts, RR: 59
Reply 11, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 6492 times:

Why would the outside of the nacelle be a good place to go more laminar?

Is this because it is a non lifting surface and you don't have to tailor the pressure distribution like for a lifting surface (including the VTP, has to go force projecting by engine out)? In such case I would expect the pylon to have the same shape and painting as it is the only other non "lifting" surface available except for the fuselage and flap fairings.



Non French in France
User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31420 posts, RR: 85
Reply 12, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 6474 times:
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Quoting ferpe (Reply 11):
Why would the outside of the nacelle be a good place to go more laminar?

If I am reading the FlightGlobal article correctly, the nacelle inlet is laminar by nature at the edge and Boeing is just extending it farther along the outer nacelle surface through this paint application process.

[Edited 2012-07-02 14:45:38]

User currently offlineferpe From France, joined Nov 2010, 2805 posts, RR: 59
Reply 13, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 6455 times:

Quoting Stitch (Reply 12):
If I am reading the FlightGlobal article correctly, the nacelle inlet is laminar by nature at the edge and Boeing is just extending it farther along the outer nacelle surface through this paint application process.


Sure, you have to have laminar to start with and this is only available on a wind-facing surface. I have seen that not only the surface smoothness needs to be special to retain laminar flow but also the shape of the surface have to be different unless you have some laminar boundary layer suction going on.

This shape is more gradual thick the normal in order to keep a more positive boundary layer pressure gradient then for normal wings/pylons. This is what I am getting at, such a thickness evolution might not fit with your needed surface form for eg a wing or tail surface. The outside of the nacelle have not other function then to lead the air until it meets the engine flow later one, thus can have any needed shape to suit your desire of laminar flow pattern as far down the side as possible.



Non French in France
User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 14, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 6402 times:

Quoting ferpe (Reply 11):

Why would the outside of the nacelle be a good place to go more laminar?

If you can get away with it, everywhere is a good place to go more laminar because it reduces skin friction drag. It just happens that, as you correctly identified, there are less conflicting constraints on the nacelle than many other places. The wings have overriding aerodynamic concerns, the fuselage is too long, etc. The press has widely reported that Boeing will employ a laminar flow fin (not sure if horizontal or vertical or both) on the 787 derivatives.

Quoting ferpe (Reply 11):
Is this because it is a non lifting surface and you don't have to tailor the pressure distribution like for a lifting surface

You can do natural laminar flow airfoils but it's very hard, and almost impossible at transsonic speeds.

Quoting Stitch (Reply 12):
If I am reading the FlightGlobal article correctly, the nacelle inlet is laminar by nature at the edge and Boeing is just extending it farther along the outer nacelle surface through this paint application process.

It's not just through the paint; most of the effect comes from the different profile (much thicker, more gradual radii, etc.). The paint thing is just to preserve what the natural form could already provide.

Tom.


User currently offlineferpe From France, joined Nov 2010, 2805 posts, RR: 59
Reply 15, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 6330 times:

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 14):
everywhere is a good place to go more laminar because it reduces skin friction drag.

Then why not the pylon as well? OK, it sits with a long mating surface to the nacelle where one would expect some interference pressure phenomenon to appear but the nose of the pylon is an aerodynamic cover, it could be shaped freely just like the nacelles forward part.

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 14):
The press has widely reported that Boeing will employ a laminar flow fin (not sure if horizontal or vertical or both) on the 787 derivatives.

I think it is more then rumors through the press, Boeing has also said it will reduce the airframe drag in the order of a percent or so for the 789. I modeled what this means in the A vs B thread, it means a 20% reduction in skin friction drag for the VTP and HTP.



Non French in France
User currently onlinezululima From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 338 posts, RR: 3
Reply 16, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 6321 times:

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 10):
Risky; doing so would almost instantly forfeit the airline's right to bitch about the fuel consumption because Boeing would just say "We told you not to paint it.".

There is no such thing as an airline's right to bitch. Besides, they give up nothing by painting as they see fit. Such a small amount of fuel usage/savings will never be substantiated by Boeing, the airlines, or anyone else in real world conditions for the reasons I mentoned earlier. Hell, they burn more just running the APU during turns and maintenance. If they were really willing to sacrifice appearance for saved fuel, the polished metal AA look would be quite in style again (although in a wonderfully self-contradictory way, not on the 787  ).

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 10):
I rather suspect the underlying reason, besides the laminar flow nacelle (which is true, it's obvious when you see it side-by-side with an earlier nacelle), is supply chain management. You can have the nacelle pre-painted way earlier in the production system if you don't have to worry about livery.

Way overreaching in your conclusions. Better make the whole plane white in that case. Painting an engine is hardly a problem, especially when they have the entire fuselage to do as well. Airlines also would not accept such petty logic as a reason why their corporate branding is incomplete (and in many cases quite bad looking).

The laminar flow argument won't last for long. The 787 will have equally awesome fuel burn regardless of the color or layers of paint on the engines. If they want true performance from their livery they will keep them clean. Smooth, polished planes get roughly 2% improvement in parasitic drag, which translates to 1% better fuel efficiency.

Yes, everyone is going to great lengths these days to squeeze more out of the tube & wing plane, but does the argument of "too much drag without a plain white engine nacelle" not strike anyone else as completely rediculous?



I didn't get a 'Harumph' outta that guy!
User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 17, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 6262 times:

Quoting ferpe (Reply 15):
Then why not the pylon as well? OK, it sits with a long mating surface to the nacelle where one would expect some interference pressure phenomenon to appear but the nose of the pylon is an aerodynamic cover, it could be shaped freely just like the nacelles forward part.

The overwhelming driver for strut design is making it play nice with the wing; that's an *extremely* hard aerodynamics problem. I strongly suspect that would override any laminar flow attempts.

Quoting zululima (Reply 16):
Way overreaching in your conclusions.

How so? Driving work backwards off the final assembly line is the entire basis for a "prestuffed section" model that both Boeing and Airbus use.

Quoting zululima (Reply 16):
Better make the whole plane white in that case.

Now *there* is an idea the airlines won't accept. There has to be a balance; "no livery" is clearly on the wrong side of the balance.

Quoting zululima (Reply 16):
Airlines also would not accept such petty logic as a reason why their corporate branding is incomplete

Exactly, which is why I think it's couched on the laminar flow. The supply chain benefits would just be a bonus.

Quoting zululima (Reply 16):
The laminar flow argument won't last for long. The 787 will have equally awesome fuel burn regardless of the color or layers of paint on the engines.

If you blow the laminar flow it has quantifiably measurable impact on drag. Yes, the drag measurements are that good.

Quoting zululima (Reply 16):
does the argument of "too much drag without a plain white engine nacelle" not strike anyone else as completely rediculous?

No. I take it you've never tried to design laminar flow structures?

Tom.


User currently onlinezululima From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 338 posts, RR: 3
Reply 18, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 6180 times:

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 17):
If you blow the laminar flow it has quantifiably measurable impact on drag. Yes, the drag measurements are that good.

Still haven't heard any logic supporting exactly how laminar flow will be maintained in real-world conditions, where engines are not treated nicely. I have no doubt Boeing engineers know what they are doing aerodynamically, but unless those engines are modeled by a Cray supercomputer down to the atom with all of the dirt, oil, dents & scratches, placards, service hatches, etc. I think the actual gains will be too small to be noticed. Paint condition degrades, becomes matte in appearance, less smooth, then blisters & flakes. Parts too will come out of alignment and warp and gap.

This level of refinement just doesn't seem to pass the practicality test. Who will be the first airline to speak up and say: "The emperor's engines have no clothes."

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 17):
How so? Driving work backwards off the final assembly line is the entire basis for a "prestuffed section" model that both Boeing and Airbus use.

Boeing really should offer any single color of the airline's choosing. We're not talking about putting man on the moon here, just paint it a different color. Supply chain management is important, but clearly Boeing have way more important aspects of that issue to solve re: the 787. Nacelle painting would seem to be one of the easiest things to do to keep the customer happy. Comparitively speaking, it is one of the simplest structures they have, both in terms of installation and ease of storage. The nacelle painter could easily make them airline specific, its not like they don't have a few years of lead time. Either way the prestuffed section thing doesn't apply. I never said paint it on-wing. Wherever the painting is done, just change the color or pattern there.

On a related note: Do airliners get designed for the temperature difference seen at cruise height? In other words, are nacelles still the correct shape after being cooled to say -40F? I wonder how much stretch/contraction there is, especially between dissimilar materials. (Reminds me of another engineering feat, the construction of the St. Louis Arch, where one leg was heated by the sun so much that they had to cool it to get the keystone section installed. It was off by a few feet IIRC).



I didn't get a 'Harumph' outta that guy!
User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 19, posted (2 years 5 months 3 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 6126 times:

Quoting zululima (Reply 18):
Still haven't heard any logic supporting exactly how laminar flow will be maintained in real-world conditions, where engines are not treated nicely. I have no doubt Boeing engineers know what they are doing aerodynamically, but unless those engines are modeled by a Cray supercomputer down to the atom with all of the dirt, oil, dents & scratches, placards, service hatches, etc.

For starters, yes, they're modeled down to very high resolution by supercomputers (I think Boeing uses HP, not Cray).

If you've got dents/scratches you have to do an SRM repair or confirm it's within allowables. Presumably, the requirement is included. The most likely places to get dinged are, fortunately, also the least likely to screw up laminar flow.

Dirt/oil, as far as I know, falls under the general requirement to keep the airplane clean. The effectiveness of that at drag reduction is already well established. You rarely see significant dirt/oil on the front third anyway, which is the only laminar portion.

Placards, hatches, etc. are all very deliberately located aft of the laminar region.

Quoting zululima (Reply 18):
Paint condition degrades, becomes matte in appearance, less smooth, then blisters & flakes.

Matte won't make any difference to laminar flow. Blisters and flakes are things that need repairing anyway (they signify potential failure/damage underneath).

Quoting zululima (Reply 18):
Parts too will come out of alignment and warp and gap.

If they're that far out of alignment they're way out of the aero smoothness requirements anyway, so they're not serviceable.

Quoting zululima (Reply 18):
The nacelle painter could easily make them airline specific, its not like they don't have a few years of lead time.

You'd be very lucky to know which specific units were going on which airplane more than about 2 months ahead. Although many parts do have very long lead times (and nacelles are relatively long), the actual assignment of parts to airplanes doesn't happen nearly that far ahead.

Quoting zululima (Reply 18):
On a related note: Do airliners get designed for the temperature difference seen at cruise height?

Yes.

Quoting zululima (Reply 18):
In other words, are nacelles still the correct shape after being cooled to say -40F?

Yes.

Quoting zululima (Reply 18):
I wonder how much stretch/contraction there is, especially between dissimilar materials.

They try very hard not to use disimilar materials; if they have to you need to include the thermal stress as part of the analysis. As long as the parts are properly constrained the issue shows up as stress, not displacement.

Tom.


User currently offlineSmittyOne From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (2 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 6003 times:

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 19):

Thanks for the great info, Tom. This is very interesting stuff.

Whenever I read one of your technical threads it's like my brain is a hermit crab looking for a bigger skull to move into.


User currently offlineDarksnowynight From United States of America, joined Jan 2012, 1412 posts, RR: 3
Reply 21, posted (2 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 5467 times:

Quoting Stitch (Reply 9):
Yet when ZA001 was rolled out, she had the solid white nacelles of all other airframes.

But they're not all solid white. What's the deal with this?


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I know it's only a small patch, but it seems that's it's enough to throw a wrench in the whole "white only" argument for the naccells...

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 19):

Placards, hatches, etc. are all very deliberately located aft of the laminar region.

The Rolls-Royce RB211-524G nacells that BA utilizes on their 747 fleet have access panels and vents all over the front portions. Is this a case of these cowlings being designed before this was a concern?



Posting without Knowledge is simply Tolerated Vandalism... We are the Vandals.
User currently offlineboeingfixer From Canada, joined Jul 2005, 534 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (2 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 5448 times:

Quoting Darksnowynight (Reply 21):
The Rolls-Royce RB211-524G nacells that BA utilizes on their 747 fleet have access panels and vents all over the front portions. Is this a case of these cowlings being designed before this was a concern?

The fact is those nacelles were not laminar flow designed in the first place.

Cheers,

John



Cheers, John YYC
User currently offlineCM From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (2 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 5340 times:

Quoting Darksnowynight (Reply 21):
But they're not all solid white. What's the deal with this?

Laminar flow is only maintained about 30" (80cm) aft from the leading edge of the inlet. Adding decals, paint steps, etc aft of this point has no effect on the drag reduction gained by this nacelle design.

Quoting zululima (Reply 18):
I never said paint it on-wing. Wherever the painting is done, just change the color or pattern there.

The problem with other colors is that they all go on at different paint thicknesses, due to differences in how various pigments work. Many operators use a paint with a mica flake to get a metallic look on their nacelles (VS is a good example of this). This type of "metallic" paint is several times as thick as what is required for good coverage and finish with a white (titanium oxide) pigmented paint. There is a designed-in step between the metal inlet and the CFRP nacelle structure, which is designed for a specific paint thickness. When the nacelle is painted with white paint, this step is exactly filled with the thickness of the paint. Most other paint colors will result in a finish coat which is significantly thicker, resulting in a forward facing paint step which trips laminar flow.

Quoting zululima (Reply 18):
On a related note: Do airliners get designed for the temperature difference seen at cruise height? In other words, are nacelles still the correct shape after being cooled to say -40F?

Boeing and Goodrich have designed in a very unique and proprietary interface between the aluminum and CFRP structures in order to address this issue, which is why this...

Quoting zululima (Reply 18):
Comparitively speaking, it is one of the simplest structures they have

...is a completely incorrect statement.


User currently offlinejetmech From Australia, joined Mar 2006, 2699 posts, RR: 53
Reply 24, posted (2 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 5232 times:

Quoting CM (Reply 23):
There is a designed-in step between the metal inlet and the CFRP nacelle structure, which is designed for a specific paint thickness. When the nacelle is painted with white paint, this step is exactly filled with the thickness of the paint. Most other paint colors will result in a finish coat which is significantly thicker, resulting in a forward facing paint step which trips laminar flow.
Quoting CM (Reply 23):
Boeing and Goodrich have designed in a very unique and proprietary interface between the aluminum and CFRP structures in order to address this issue, which is why this...

Impressive! Boeing wasn't mucking around with this particular design element of the Plastic Fantastic!

Quite a lot of talk has centred on the stringent surface requirements for the engine cowling, but is this just one part of the overall puzzle? I get the feeling that the production of a strong advantageous pressure gradient over the forward part of the nacelle would also be part of the overall strategy to achieving an extended region of laminar flow. Would this be a reasonable assumption to make?

Regards, JetMech



JetMech split the back of his pants. He can feel the wind in his hair.
User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 25, posted (2 years 5 months 1 week 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 5198 times:

Quoting jetmech (Reply 24):
I get the feeling that the production of a strong advantageous pressure gradient over the forward part of the nacelle would also be part of the overall strategy to achieving an extended region of laminar flow. Would this be a reasonable assumption to make?

Yes. It's a multi-component problem. A shape with poor pressure gradients won't be laminar for long even with the best surface treatments. A perfect shape with crappy surface will trip the boundary layer early. The only way to maintain (passive) laminar flow is to treat the boundary layer nicely; that means proper pressure gradients and smooth surfaces.

Tom.


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