Readers familiar with Cathay Pacific’s fleet will know that the flag carrier of Hong Kong is a significant operator of aircraft from the Boeing 777-300 series. However, did you know that the airline also used to fly the shorter 777-200? While this section of Cathay Pacific’s fleet was less numerous, it included a very important aircraft for the 777 family: its prototype.
A five-aircraft fleet
According to data from ch-aviation.com, Cathay Pacific has operated a total of five Boeing 777-200 aircraft over the years. This twin-engine widebody design is the original and smallest member of Boeing’s popular 777 family. It entered service with United Airlines in June 1995, and Cathay Pacific received its first examples of the type the following year.
Four of the airline’s 777-200s joined the carrier in 1996, with VR-HNC being the first to do so in May that year. Next up was VR-HND, which came onboard in June. After this, deliveries occurred with two-month gaps, making VR-HNA the next arrival in August 1996. The final 777-200 to come onboard that year was VR-HNB, which arrived in October.
Between July and September 1997, Cathay Pacific re-registred these aircraft to replace their VR prefixes with B. The latter part of their registrations remained the same. B-HNL was Cathay Pacific’s fifth and final 777-200 arrival, joining second-hand from Boeing in December 2000. It had been under the manufacturer’s ownership for six-and-a-half years.
The end of the line
Cathay Pacific’s Boeing 777-200s eventually became outnumbered by aircraft from the larger 777-300 series. However, these twinjets still had an important role to play at the airline, and stuck around until the late 2010s. Although B-HNL had been the last to arrive, it was also the oldest, and thus the first to be withdrawn. This took place in May 2018.
The other 777-200 to leave Cathay Pacific in 2018 was B-HNB. The oneworld founding member withdrew this particular aircraft in September that year. Meanwhile, 2019 was the final year of 777-200 service at Cathay Pacific. The airline, whose 777-200s had 293 economy and 42 business class seats, operated its last flight with the type that August. By this stage, two of its last three 777-200s had already been withdrawn, in February and May 2019.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
A single preserved example
None of Cathay Pacific’s five 777-200s have gone on to find new owners, with the original four remaining in storage. Two of these (B-HNC and B-HND) are situated in Marana, Arizona, with another (B-HNA) in Taipei, Taiwan. Meanwhile, B-HNB is currently in storage at Phillips Army Airfield at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, in Harford County, Maryland.
One example has been preserved. With B-HNL having been the first 777 that Boeing ever produced, it was an obvious candidate for preservation. ATDB.aero reports that it was originally planned to be displayed at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. However, it is now instead preserved at Davis–Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona.
Did you know that Cathay Pacific used to operate the Boeing 777-200? Perhaps you even flew on the type with Hong Kong’s flag carrier? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!