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On DigitalGlobe, I saw the following picture in an article, which talks about some of the best aerial shots of 2014.

Paine Field, Washington Paine Field, Washington

Questions

1) Did the plane, highlighted with a yellow circle, need to reverse to line up so neatly even though it just turned (I assume). Is the turning radius really that small that it takes very little space for a big plane to change direction so quickly on ground?

2) Is there any special reason that all the planes are on one side of the runway and not centered on the markers? They all seem to be lined up towards the left side of the picture.

3) Isn't that too close when there is another plane parked so close in proximity? Provided there is ample space available.

4) Is it just that the scale of this picture, taken from a satellite, making them look closer than they really are?

5) What does that Double marking 7/91 Mean on the North East end of the small runway? usually that is a single number indicating the heading. That can't be 91, then what does that 91 mean?

6) Why are there a bunch of planes that are about stacked on top of each other towards the bottom right of the photo, on the ramp to 29?

P.S: I know they are parked and are not taking positions to take-off.

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    $\begingroup$ 7) Is there really a plane without wings? Yes, there is. $\endgroup$ – yo' Dec 9 '14 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ Yep for sure there is :) $\endgroup$ – Hanky Panky Dec 9 '14 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ Very carefully would be my answer. ;-) $\endgroup$ – Mark Micallef Dec 10 '14 at 0:54
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    $\begingroup$ The Cessna landing on the runway 34L is probably so confused by all those huge planes... If the pilot's not familiar with the airport. $\endgroup$ – Keegan Dec 11 '14 at 18:26
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Most of your questions seem to be answered by the current answers/comments, but since you are wanting more detail...

1) Did the plane, highlighted with a yellow circle, need to reverse to line up so neatly even though it just turned (I assume). Is the turning radius really that small that it takes very little space for a big plane to change direction so quickly on ground?

Yes, either the plane in the yellow circle or the one directly behind it had to be reversed into its spot. When airplanes are being repositioned around an airport, they are typically towed, because it requires less fuel and it's easier to start up a tug and hook it up than to power up a large jet for taxi. The tug is also able to push the jet backwards when needed (which also happens routinely when the jet departs from an airport gate).

Runway 11/29 at KPAE (currently closed except for taxiing for obvious reasons) has a width of 75ft (23m). According to Boeing, a 787-8 (the indicated plane and all but the green 747 at the northwest end) needs 128ft (38.9m) width to make a turn. This assumes a steering angle of 70 degrees, with the R2 outer gear at one edge at the beginning of the turn at a radius of 46ft and R3 nose gear at the opposite edge halfway through turn at a radius of 82ft. So it would not be possible for a 787 to turn around on that runway. Certainly not a 747. Even if they tried to do something like a three point turn, the distance between the nose and main gear is 74ft 9in center to center, which puts the wheel distance just over the runway width.

2) Is there any special reason that all the planes are on one side of the runway and not centered on the markers? They all seem to be lined up towards the left side of the picture.

They are probably on the south side to provide as much clearance as possible for taxiway D immediately to the north (as Lnafziger commented). The taxiway to the south is marked as closed (might be W?). The Additional Remarks on AirNav include (with my comments):

  • ...TAXIWAY D BETWEEN D2 AND ALPHA (north section of D) RESTRICTED TO WINGSPAN OF 118' OR LESS. TAXIWAY D BETWEEN D2 AND GOLF (south section of D) RESTRICTED TO WINGSPAN OF 49' OR LESS.
  • TAXIWAY W CLOSED INDEFINITELY (probably south of runway 11/29).
  • TAXIWAY INTERSECTIONS D2, D3, AND D4 CLOSED INDEFINITELY (between runway 11/29 and taxiway D to the north).

For reference, the 787-8 has a wingspan of 197ft 3in (60.12m).

3) Isn't that too close when there is another plane parked so close in proximity? Provided there is ample space available.

While crew must certainly take care to avoid collisions, planes can be parked very closely together if needed. See your question 6 for an example (also boneyards or aircraft carrier hangars). Since the planes will also be towed out of their positions, jet blast should not be a concern.

Although there is more space at KPAE than on an aircraft carrier and fewer planes than at a boneyard, there were still issues of space with so many planes on the ground. There were issues with production and engine availability as slookabill mentioned, as well as the grounding due to the battery issues.

4) Is it just that the scale of this picture, taken from a satellite, making them look closer than they really are?

The picture seems to be taken from close to directly overhead, so the apparent distance is probably fairly representative. Here's another view for comparison.

5) What does that Double marking 7/91 Mean on the North East end of the small runway? usually that is a single number indicating the heading. That can't be 91, then what does that 91 mean?

As ratchetfreak mentioned, the marking is at the north end of the runway, so it is meant to be viewed facing south as 16L.

6) Why are there a bunch of planes that are about stacked on top of each other towards the bottom right of the photo, on the ramp to 29?

Similar to the reasons explained for the other questions, the planes are parked for some period of time. The ground crews want the planes to take up as little area as possible. These appear to be 737's and are probably parked either for maintenance or for reasons similar to the 787 (production).

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  • $\begingroup$ I notice that the two aircraft in question don't have engines in satellite images currently shown in Google Maps - so I expect they must have been moved into position by tug, assuming engines are only removed inside hangars. $\endgroup$ – RedGrittyBrick Dec 12 '14 at 9:49
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    $\begingroup$ 4) I fly out of KPAE, and the aircraft are parked very close together, especially the 737s in the SE corner of that photo. The 787s are around 30-40 feet nose-to-tail. $\endgroup$ – egid Dec 15 '14 at 3:03
  • $\begingroup$ @egid thanks for sharing your first hand experience. That must be a nice sight specially coming in for a landing. Any special reason you only fly out of there and not fly in? $\endgroup$ – Hanky Panky Dec 15 '14 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, hah, I'm based at PAE. "Fly out of" just means most of my flights start there, really. $\endgroup$ – egid Dec 15 '14 at 19:17
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  1. It was tugged to that position via tug.
  2. Angle of photo + possibly trying to offset weight, from centerline.
  3. These planes are just being stored there. They'll be tugged to another location before they even bother to start them up, and I believe most don't have engines on at present.
  4. They are quite close together.
  5. (from @ratchetfreak's answer:) Turn the image around as if you are coming to land; it's actually 16L a perfectly normal runway number.
  6. Its just a very compact way of parking aircraft in minimum space. Compare the space taken up by those 4 planes versus any 4 nose-to-tail on the runway.

These aircraft are mostly 787s that are the early teen aircraft that were rejected by the original airlines they were slated for, due to so many out of tolerance issues/rework required. They are just being stored on the runway until Boeing can get them into mod/rework status and get them to spec to be able to sell. Right now the mod line seems to be working on one of these aircraft, at a time, and each one taking many, many months to get fully reworked.

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    $\begingroup$ I would think that they are keeping the aircraft to the South side of the runway so that they don't interfere with the parallel taxiway on the North side. I have no idea why weight would be a factor with which side of the taxiway that they are parked on.... $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Dec 9 '14 at 6:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger isnt it perfectly normal for an aircraft to be on taxi way and another taking off from the runway? How can they be any interference? $\endgroup$ – vasin1987 Dec 10 '14 at 0:29
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    $\begingroup$ @vasin1987 look at the wingspan you can't expect 2 of those planes to be able to cross each other that central runway looks to be fit for smaller planes only. $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Dec 10 '14 at 0:47
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    $\begingroup$ Every taxiway and runway has designed safety areas, of limits of their wingspans they can take. Depending on wing span, they could conflict with each other if something isn't taken into account. $\endgroup$ – slookabill Dec 10 '14 at 2:55
  • $\begingroup$ In response to your answer to 6) Is it used only there or is that a common practice? $\endgroup$ – Hanky Panky Dec 11 '14 at 14:07
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  1. turn the image around as if you are coming to land; it's actually 16L a perfectly normal runway number.
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    $\begingroup$ That was sooooooo obvious, feel even more dumb :) lol $\endgroup$ – Hanky Panky Dec 9 '14 at 10:46
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    $\begingroup$ With all due respect, I upvoted your answer, and also merged it into the one above, so that when its "accepted," one answer will be complete. @Iceman might want to consider accepting the other answer $\endgroup$ – rbp Dec 9 '14 at 14:06
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I am sure all those big twins were towed to their parking position on the inactive runway 11/29, and will be towed back to the factory area when the time comes.

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