MIAMI – We all know by now that the ongoing pandemic has had airlines deferring aircraft deliveries left and right, but where do these planes go? Boeing quickly ran out of space at its Paine, King County, and Charleston locations to host these aircraft, known as “white tails,” built but undelivered.
The manufacturer turned to other locations to have the planes wait out the pandemic, and they found Victorville (VCV). Most well-known as one of the world’s largest aircraft retirement facilities, but with a runway to spare and a large, mostly unused apron space, it was an ideal option for Boeing to temporarily store aircraft.
Boeing 787s in Victorville
787s of different airlines have been sifting in and out of VCV, first Qatar’s (QR) while getting fitted for Q Suites, then Air Europa(UX), and Juneyao Airlines (HO) but most recently Qantas (QF). Three Qantas 787s are now in Victorville, VH-ZNM, VH-ZNL, and VH-ZNN ferried in that order, the third without all its paint.
These last three 787s would have filled QF’s order of 14 total 787s, but QF will not have any new aircraft delivered this year, deferring them until some undetermined time in 2021. The same is the case for many airlines, lots of which have entire fleets parked, being forced to maintain them even while they don’t generate any revenue.
As COVID-19 cases surge over the course of winter, it’s certain that for Boeing and the airlines we’re nowhere near the end, and deferrals and storage are going to continue for a few months. Boeing will have to find a way to limit the damage it’s taking on its biggest active production project.
Featured image: David Gray/Getty Images for Qantas