Mysterious Boeing 787 Flies 20+ Hours Nonstop

Filed Under: Other Airlines

I’m not sure what’s more fascinating here — the route that was operated yesterday, or the plane as such…

Boeing 787 flies nonstop from Seoul to Buenos Aires

Yesterday a Boeing 787-8 with the registration code P4-787 operated a nonstop flight from Seoul Incheon (ICN) to Buenos Aires (EZE). This 12,106 mile flight was operated in a flight time of 20hr19min, which certainly makes this one of the longest 787 flights ever.

The route that Comlux operated nonstop from Seoul to Buenos Aires

Shortly after landing in Buenos Aires, the plane refueled and operated the 40 minute flight to Punta del Este (PDP), so I guess it’s safe to say the plane was really pushing its range.

It goes without saying that this is well beyond the typical published range of the aircraft, but presumably the plane was more or less empty, so it could operate much further than under typical conditions.

The basics of P4-787, the plane in question

The plane that operated this route has the registration code P4-787, and it’s a seven year old Boeing 787 that initially entered service in May 2013. The plane used to fly for Aeromexico, but was put in storage in January 2021, and was taken over by Comlux as of February 2021.

You’ve gotta love the budget-friendly way that this plane has been repainted for now. Comlux has basically maintained Aeromexico’s livery except the name, and I have to say, it looks surprisingly good.

Comlux Boeing 787-8

Comlux operates a fleet of VIP aircraft, both for private and charter use. The company is behind several of the most fascinating VIP aircraft out there, like the Crystal Skye Boeing 777-200LR.

That brings me to my first question — does anyone know how this particular 787 is configured as of now? The plane only joined Comlux’s fleet last month:

  • On the one hand, I’d assume that maybe the plane hasn’t been converted into a VIP configuration yet, given how much time that can take
  • On the other hand, the plane has been flying around nonstop for the past few weeks, so could it really be in the same configuration that it used to have with Aeromexico, since I can’t imagine that would be very popular with 787 charter customers?

Aeromexico Boeing 787-8 business class

Check out the routes this plane has flown!

I was looking at the flights that this particular plane has operated in the past couple of weeks, and wow, I’m speechless:

  • On March 11 the plane flew from Punta del Este to Buenos Aires (36min)
  • On March 13 the plane flew from Buenos Aires to Muscat (15hr26min)
  • On March 14 the plane flew from Muscat to Seoul (7hr37min)
  • On March 17 the plane flew from Seoul to Osaka (1hr17min)
  • On March 18 the plane flew from Osaka to Guam (2hr54min)
  • On March 18 the plane flew from Guam to Auckland (7hr37min)
  • On March 19 the plane flew from Auckland to Tahiti (4hr48min)
  • On March 19 the plane flew from Tahiti to Copenhagen (16hr37min)
  • On March 21 the plane flew from Copenhagen to St. Petersburg (1hr32min)
  • On March 22 the plane flew from St. Petersburg to Zurich (2hr30min)
  • On March 22 the plane flew from Zurich to London (1hr12min)
  • On March 22 the plane flew from London to Cairo (4hr2min)
  • On March 23 the plane flew from Cairo to Male (6hr5min)
  • On March 23 the plane flew from Male to Gan Island (54min)
  • On March 24 the plane flew to & from Gan Island two separate times (22min each)
  • On March 26 the plane flew from Gan Island to Male (50min)
  • On March 26 the plane flew from Male to Seoul (8hr1min)
  • From there the plane flew from Seoul to Buenos Aires to Punta del Este, as covered above

Below is a picture of what that looks like on a map.

The routes for Comlux’s Boeing 787-8 in the past couple of weeks

Does anyone actually know what’s going on here? Is there a single charter customer, was this all separate charters, is there a cargo motive, or what? Usually I’m pretty good at reading between the lines when it comes to flight tracking, but I’m lost here:

  • This almost seems like an “air cruise” of sorts, except the lack of time between flights makes that unlikely
  • Perhaps there was some charter between Seoul and the Maldives, but what was the point of the two ~20 minute flights at Gan Island that just took off and landed?
  • The rest of the route I simply can’t make sense of, like the Guam flight, Tahiti to Copenhagen, etc.
  • Was this perhaps all some sort of a crew training exercise? If so, that seems awfully costly, and like quite an unusual routing

I’m sure there’s a totally reasonable explanation, so if anyone has any insights, I’d sure love to hear them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single aircraft operate such varied routes over the course of a couple of weeks.

For that matter, could you imagine how fascinating it would be to be crew for this plane? It makes me wonder whether a single crew has been operating all of these flights, or if crews have been rotated in & out.

Bottom line

A former Aeromexico Boeing 787 that now flies for Comlux just operated a 20+ hour, 12,000+ mile nonstop flight from Seoul to Buenos Aires. That might be the least interesting part of this story, though.

In the past two weeks the plane has been everywhere from Muscat to Guam to Auckland to Tahiti to Copenhagen to the Maldives, and I actually have no clue what’s going on.

Can anyone shed some light on what exactly this intriguing Boeing 787 is up to? And does anyone else find this to be as interesting as I do?

Comments
  1. It’s mine, sorry. Been trying to find something that fell out of my bag a few weeks ago and don’t know where to look.

  2. Actually it’s mine – I’ve been trying to get Ben’s attention for some time and figured the only way to do it was to fly my jet circuitously and randomly over very long distances. Success!

  3. Gan Island has a small runway, so probably that’s why the refuel was needed in Male? I was quite surprised a 787 could make landing at GAN.

  4. ICN-EZE 12,106 miles
    EZE-PDP 196 miles

    If EZE was just a refuelling stop, that’s a weird way of splitting the journey. Ultra long haul uses a huge amount of fuel, as the plane is burning fuel to carry the fuel used for the later part of the flight.

    Splitting the journey in two roughly equal segments would have saved a lot of fuel.

  5. Gan is where your plane goes after it drops you at a Maldivian resort. Gan has parking for planes, affordable lodgings and meals, services for maintenance. Not unusual for a plane to drop VIPs farther north on another atoll, then park at GAN for days.

  6. Well, it seems that Enrique Piñeyra is one of the pilots. He has a commercial pilot licence and enough experience to obtain a 787 type rating in a relatively short time. Although he’s not poor, he’s arguably not rich enough to finance flying restlessly a 787 around the globe … so this raises the question, who is behind this trip?

  7. As a filmmaker, I am wondering if Enrique Piñeyra is working on a project or just burning someone else’s fuel.

  8. That second tweet posted above mentions “el vuelo de instrucción,” or “instruction flight.” That’s a clue… but it seems AWFULLY expensive to fly an empty 787 around the world as a means for someone to get their pilot’s license. But maybe some very wealthy person paid this Enrique Piñeyro to be his (or her) instructor? And rented this airplane?

  9. I would say there was a decent chance the ICN-EZE was an empty leg. Given it had gone from MLE to ICN, that would seem to be a return of a VIP entourage. My guess is there was another large group that need to go for EZE-PDP. Perhaps there are still some restrictions on commercial travel or a ferry.

  10. Certain flights arrive in 1 city to clear customs & immigration, then continue on to the 2nd location.

  11. I believe in this particular instance, the 787 has brought South Korean-made Astra Zeneca COVID vaccines to Argentina. No clue about other flights or the aircraft’s current config

  12. I’m with Alonso, I’m wondering if these are COVID-19 vaccine delivery flights. If so, they would certainly have very light loads and would be more focused on time between destinations than optimal fuel management.

  13. Because of it’s painting, it reminds me a private jet that i saw many years ago. At the time it was for chairman of the biggest private company in s. Korea.
    I’ve heard it’s 787 range extender version.

  14. I seem to remember a recent story about some amazing range on an airliner recently, and it ended up being that they had actually stopped for fuel on wake island, or one of the pacific alternates, and most adsb apps didn’t not show the stop because limited coverage in that area and it guesses the route

  15. If these are indeed vaccine delivery flights as some have hypothesized, it’s like the real-life blue plane from Plague Inc!

  16. The NYTimes just did a piece today about how Sputnik V is being manufactured in Korea. A Korean firm named GL Rapha is producing it. Argentina is one of the users of Sputnik V.

  17. Ha, I always wondered what the longest possible commercial flight (between cities of hub size) would be and from my toying around with GCmap awhile ago I concluded it was probably ICN to EZE. Pretty cool to see that a plane actually flew it.

  18. Likely either rendition or DLA/DOD. Those are not vacation spots and they’re always from a large city or area to a small cairo to male is odd, copenhagen to st petersburg unless it’s business or diplomatic.

  19. I dont think that the flight was for vaccines .
    Argentina imports its Sputnik vaccine from Russia not from South Korea .
    Actually some days ago there was a delivery flight with Aerolineas Argentinas from Moscow to Buenos Aires with an A330-200 (reg. LV-GIF) .
    The flight lasted 17.32 hours …

  20. Actually the plane belongs to my boss. He will only use it once a year. He decided to retire the reindeer and use the jet. He is a very happy Jolly Old Man and he gets Frost bite in December. It takes him several months to thaw out. So that is why he is going with the jet. See y’all in December!!!

  21. It might be of interest to cross check arriving passengers from other airlines coinciding with these destinations and times to see if there could be possible similarities or purposes of interested parties. Clandestine meetings perhaps?

  22. I’m from Buenos Aires (EZE). This plane has been coming and going and it’s a bit of a mistery. It’s indeed rumored that Enrique Piñeyro is one of the pilots.
    The vaccines theory is good, but we received only one shipment from South Korea so far (on March 28th), but it was on a KLM passenger flight (from AMS).

  23. @ Richard Miller — I don’t think I said anywhere that I’m entitled to know this info, but this is the internet, and last I checked I’m allowed to ask questions? Why is it any of your business why it’s any of my business? 😉

  24. I work at Boeing SC and this plane continues to amaze me. This should be an interesting story to follow. Thanks Ben

  25. It’s testing the new AI autonomous Pilot equipment, collecting data from all different situations & locations of the world…

  26. Gab Island is the parking space for most charter operators that fly to MLE because parking is very limited (read expensive) in MLE. drop off the Pax in MLE and then you ferry to GAN

  27. If I tell you, I would have to kill you. So please do not force me to say a word. Then we can all live happily ever after. Unless we call catch covid. Then only someone us will live and some of us won’t be living happily ever after in which case I probably should have told you to prevent undue suffering by just killing you.

  28. I guess that in response to Ben’s original question (… does anyone know …) (and within the constraint of those who are aware of Ben’s column) the answer is a resounding NO.

  29. Just watched it take off from Gan 4 days ago and was wondering about it myself 🙂 there were only 3 people onboard the 787. No passengers or cargo was offloaded here. Did a couple of takeoffs and landings and just left.

    Also @Hiro. Gan does not have a small runway. 3600 metres.

  30. From my flight dispatcher experience, customs can not always be arranged in Gan so we plan a tech stop in Male to clear the customs 🙂

  31. To add to the mystery, P4-787 uses the same transponder as Igor Makarov’s former 737 BBJ, ie. 48411C: https://www.planespotters.net/hex/48411C , so it could be assumed with great probability that the 787 is owned or at least handled on behalf of Igor Makarov. Interesting what purpose this “joint (ad)venture” between a Russian billionaire and an Argentinian actor/pilot may have…

  32. @CR and @Ahmad: Had no idea GAN had such a long runway. Quite impressive for a tiny island.

    p.s. I have used the airport once in 2018 with Sri Lankan Airlines. There is one resort just a 15-minute walk from the airport terminal, called Equator Village Resort. While it may not have the best private beach, it was really affordable and the best part was being able to rent a bike and ride along the longest road in the country connecting several islands, stopping along villages/interacting with locals which is a rare Maldivian experience for tourists. Would love to be back there again.

  33. Enrique Piñeyro is flying this 787.
    He lives in Punta del Este.
    He has been flying this and other planes several times in the last months.

  34. Thank you, Ben, for picking up the story of the flight to CPH, which obviously evolved significantly.
    Truly fascinating to follow.
    Please do keep posting stories like this.

  35. What this looks like is slow key pickup of the wealthy elite who run the world. Obviously a secret meeting aboard the plane, possibly to discuss where to go post COVID with the global economy. Just a theory of course but look at the stops, the length of travel, the plane obviously wasn’t carrying a full load. And why a crew and the plan through an exercise like that without a good reason, given the age of the plane.

  36. Well I must say this story IS VERY interesting and i am very curious of the true conclusion of this “story”. I however do not have the knowledge of exact runway locations or wtf Santa wants to spend his vacation time STILL above ground. I enjoy reading stories like this while pooping but not enjoying the loss of circulation in my no ass ass. So I shall retire and crawl out of the bathroom and back to work on my car…when I can walk. Hopefully I speak for all y’all SAVAGES and KEEP US POSTED! (Punk ass commenter needs to have himself a nice poop story LMAO)

  37. Has anyone thought of just asking Comlux!?Theyre getting a lot of ink over this! Check Comlux url….

  38. Wow 787 8 has less range then 787 9 it has auxiliary fuel tanks to give it more range

  39. The company was just taking over they may have brand new pilots they’re getting paid less money then Pilots that already have hundreds of hours underneath their belts allowing them to fly passengers. Sounds to me a training exercise to get the hours in for Pilots in order to qualify for passenger flight touch and go that’s a, standard procedure for training Pilots Air Force or civil aviation

  40. With fuel being cheap as it was the abundance of aviation fuel why not blow it it’s only going to go bad and have your pilot’s train for a lot less than it would cost to hire an experienced pilot and a experienced pilot gets paid six figures a year why not hire a pilot for five figures and train him it’s still overall cheaper to train him with cheaper aviation fuel because of covid

  41. I know some of you say or add why not just train them around your local home well unfortunately a lot of airports are different sizes as mentioned in some articles you have some airports that are so dangerous you literally have to come down on the mountain to land a plane there are airports that are so small they are designed for smaller airplanes no Boeing airplane should be on there but they still do land them on it as an emergency landing sometimes even for passenger arrivals and departures

  42. Hey all, I am an armchair plane watcher and have noticed differences in flight patterns in my area. This is certainly intriguing to say the least.
    I instantly do not trust richard miller, his comment had the Uber assertiveness of an authoritarian who’s modus operandi is heavy handed oppression that should be monitored very closely.
    Yes all this from a simple statement.
    Prove me wrong Mr. miller.
    “Keep your enemies closer”

  43. All these comments and only one person got it correct. The poster simply said “Anyone seen 12 Monkeys”?
    In the movie the nutjob hellbent on spreading a terrible disease flys around the world unleashing his viral friend….
    You thought Covid-19 was bad?……

  44. Hello
    As per the news article below claims, Enrique Piñeyro bought this plane to flight it with the objective of making an impact. He’s a filmmaker and philanthropos, among other things.
    The news article shows the inside of the plane as well as him speaking. It also shows Chinese fishing vessels ilegelly fishing on Argentinean territory.

    https://www.infobae.com/sociedad/2021/04/02/impactante-testimonio-de-infobae-la-ciudad-de-luces-que-flota-en-el-mar-argentino-y-esta-depredando-nuestras-aguas/

  45. It is very easy , it is typical pattern for many intelligence agencies like CIA like MOSD tying to mask their moves or chasing someone over the world.

  46. Well is NOT unusual…first the company who operate it COMLUX does VIP flights and modifies the aircrafts with long range tanks, the standard flight between Johannesburg to New York with a 20 year old aircract is 14 hrs 45 min flight and if the winds are bad will take almost 16hrs and that is for a 400+ seater aircraft.
    Today a range like this becomes more and more normal and flies at altitudes between 45,000ft and 51,000 ft.
    Most of the VVIP aircrafts have extended range, Global 8000 has a standard range of 8200 Nm so has about 18.5 hrs standard endurance, if you order it with long range tanks goes about 24hrs…..
    VVIP people like to go non stop between places if posible, thus these extended ranges..

  47. With regards to the short turnaround time for configuring the changes in such an aircraft, You need 4 days to add the long range tanx, they are called PATS and they are removable, they are fitted in the cargo bays in modular type, about 8 of them, interconnected and the have pumps fitted already to them and all you have to do is connect a fuel line to the central tank of the aircraft, you do not alter anything to the fuel system of the aircraft, and when you do not need them you just slide them out, alao you can use 2, 4 , 6, 8, you have to pair them front and back only for balance, a B787-900 or Airbus Neo 350 has
    standard range of 18hrs so they needed very less fuel to be added

  48. @ADS Maybe they didn’t plan to land for fuel (weather, re-route, headwind).

    I’ve been on a flight that experienced stronger than anticipated headwinds that then did not have adequate fuel reserves to go over water. A simple fuel stop turned into 4 hours on the ground due to computer glitches.

  49. can this plane fly from USA to the Philippines…I would like to c it or even get the chance to fly on it….I just would like it to fly from USA to the Philippines or close to it…..

  50. Who owns this jet and r they gonna put it into use….if it can fly that distance then it could b very useful

  51. It’s those martians. Since we are exploring their planet, they are exploring ours.
    They may have better mileage on Mars and hence got their calculations wrong on earth. Luckily they did not run out of fuel and crash.

  52. Call me lame but this was reading this screams HOLLYWOOD MOVIE. I have No idea why I clicked on the article. But read ever work and comment. I live mystery and conspiracy. I say it’s the devil at work. My first thought virus spreader. Jorge Soros.

  53. It is not uncommon for the Boeing 787 to be able to fly 20+ hours. As a 787 engineer, it’s reliability makes it easy to keep up in the skies for 20+ hours. If you consider a commercial round-trip route between YVR-DEL minus the layover, it works out to be the same thing.

  54. Just when you think that you’re about to catch her, she gets away again!

    Can someone PLEASE, just tell me, where in the world is Carmen Santiago?

    I don’t know how much more I can keep this up.

  55. Hi, any chance you can just confirm the units used for the range please?

    Km/nmi or miles.

    Cheers

  56. So, saving the ozone is no longer worthy of the elite? I cannot fathom the “carbon footprint” left by this behemoth. (I don’t care… I just find it ironic.)

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