After a week of feverish speculation Boeing finally confirmed it is indeed testing a plane designed to cater for the Super Sized passengers. In the airline industry speak, super sized are exceptionally heavy/ fat passengers, loving also referred to as "whales". Boeing was prompted to make the admission after a plane enthusiast Mr Steward Jett photographed the plane over a test strip in LA, see photo 1 above.
Jack Hagel, an aircraft crash investigator, says the planes in operation today were designed to handle passenger weight range of 60-90 Kg. In America alone as much as one in two flights are taking off with as much as 20% whales ( 140 Kg and above ) with another 30 % near whale range. The aircraft industry has been trying to come to terms with whale carriage after a string of fatal and non fatal accidents which were traced to "whale" use of those doomed planes.
When other industry analysts were contacted and put Mr Hagel's assertions, they agreed unanimously. One, Mr Chuck Reed, went on to described Boeing testing of the new plane as "brave attempt to broach a taboo of the flying industry". He hoped finally the time for describing plane accidents causes as "metal fatigue", "wheel explosion" and "landing gear failure" was nearing its end. Industry sources confirmed that the push to build a plane for the "whales" also comes from the ever growing costs of maintenance, particularly wheels and landing gear, which can be traced to "whale" use. Once the plane has whale proportion of more than 10% in its passengers, the speed for take off has to be increased resulting in overheating of the tires. Similarly on landing the burden on the tires results in exceptionally heavy wear n tear, that is if tires don't explode outright. Even if the tires do not explode they have to replaced. The practice of replacing wheels on planes known to have undergone whale carriage stems from a horrific accident in 1984. A Boeing 747 carrying 48 American whales among 240 passengers exploded 10 minutes into its flight. There were no survivors. Investigations later revealed that one of the planes wheel was so overheated due to the increased speed of takeoff that it exploded, repturing the fuel tank, resulting in a massive secondary blast of the fuel.