In an exciting manoeuvre, last Wednesday, Qantas flight 63 took off from Sydney, Australia to Johannesburg, South Africa with five engines on the 747 instead of the usual four. The extra engine was not used to power the flight. It was merely being transported to Johannesburg to be swapped with a defective engine on a 747 which then operated QF64 back to Sydney.
I never knew that the 747 could be used in this way. Its wing, apparently, has anchor points under it, which allow for a supporting strut to be attached. A winching mechanism added to the strut lifts the extra engine up. The extra engine is safely secured. This movie shows how it is done:
The fifth engine, of course, adds extra weight and drag to the aircraft which necessitated a change to the schedule. QF63, therefore flew 3285 km (2041 miles) to Perth, Australia had an extra refuelling stop before starting its 8324km (5173 mi) journey across the Indian Ocean. I have flown Qantas across that ocean from Harare, Zimbabwe to Perth but it was on a regular 747 with four engines for the 8508km (5287mi) trip!
Qantas reportedly pioneered the shipping of extra engines with their 707s back in the 1970s.
Qantas does not do this manoeuvre often – it was last done in 2011:
Anyone know if the 380 can do the same thing? Or is it just a Boeing thing?