United 2585 (747) landed in Austin

I don’t often see 747s in Austin. I noticed this one because it flew over my house twice. The sound was different, so I looked it up.

Interestingly, since it’s so much taller, I guess, the signal was picked up the entire length of the runway and where it taxied. Usually, there’s about half the area at the airport where the signal is blocked. Anyway, since I could pick up the signal, I noticed it parked over by where UPS and Fedex park. Or it at least stopped there for a while. I checked the United website to see what it said for gate information, and it said the gate had not been assigned yet (this 10 minutes after landing).

Is this related to the recent expansion at Bergstrom? Can anyone else shed some light on this?

It looks like previous flights have gone to Killeen instead of Austin. Could this be a military charter or something? If so, that just shifts the question to why is it going to Austin instead of Killeen?

Edit: a neighbor suggested it may have been used for cargo for Circuit of the Americas folks.

I caught it on the return. It must be being used for cargo. I like this picture because the far wing is in the clouds but the near wing is not.

Ermm… no… Military charter. That is not a cargo bird. It’s currently inflight out of Frankfurt, heading for SFO and then will continue on to Taiwan. Flight number out of Frankfurt is UAL927

That was another option we considered, since historically it had gone to Killeen rather than Austin. BTW, is there such a thing as a 747 that is not a cargo bird? I thought the whole point of the 747 was that it could be used efficiently for cargo.

It had come out of Kuwait with a stop in Portsmouth. From KAUS it went to March AFB and then back to KSFO and resumed normal passenger duties.

Plenty of pictures of the various iterations of freighter model here:


Most telling thing in your picture is that there are windows on that bird. Boeing makes a dedicated freighter version of the -8 now and has in the past. Lastly, there’s not obvious nose door on that one. Don’t know if retrofit freighters will get the hinged nose or not but they will get the side doors (which are on the port side and couldn’t be seen in the picture)

If you could have made out the tail number, you could also have looked that up in airfleets.net and it would show it’s a passenger aircraft:


Not arguing that it is a freighter vs. a passenger aircraft. BTW, I just got a voice mail from UA stating there were no passengers on the plane arriving to Austin on the 14th. I was promised an email as well. When I get that, I will update the thread with that information.

No argument from me. Just answering the question and adding a little color. Sounds like they needed to move some folks from KAUS to March.

The email says,

"We appreciate your feedback.

After reviewing our flight stats, it shows flight 2585 on April 14th was a non revenue ferry aircraft, which means they were no passengers onboard as they need to transported that aircraft to Austin.
I don’t know if they needed an extra aircraft available due to a flight cancellation, etc.

We appreciate your business with United."

So that pushes the question out to the flight leaving Austin. Part of my reason for suggesting cargo is that I don’t believe KAUS has a gate that accommodates a 747, and even if it did, the plane was not near the usual gate areas. I suppose a stair could have been used where they were.

Quite simply, you’re not going to use a passenger aircraft for “cargo.” There was a need to fly a lot of people from Austin to March AFB.

As to gate space, BA is flying the 787 in and out of KAUS and the wingspan of it is only ~10 less that the -400.

I’ve see military charters come into KALB (MD11’s) and they park off terminal and use an airstairs. There’s no real mystery here.


There was a need to fly a lot of people from Austin to March AFB.

As to gate space, BA is flying the 787 in and out of KAUS and the wingspan of it is only ~10 less that the -400.

I’ve see military charters come into KALB (MD11’s) and they park off terminal and use an airstairs. There’s no real mystery here.

I thought the issue with a 747 (for gates) was the height of the door, not so much the horizontal space. Anyway, stairs are always an option.

Sill height of the front door on a 757 is 13 feet. Sill height on a 747 is 16.

I got an update from an air traffic controller at KAUS: “Victor, Grey Army Airfield in Killeen had/has some runway construction that prevent an aircraft the size of a 747 to land and takeoff. So, Austin became the alternate. I don’t know the nature of the flight, but it is not a regularly scheduled flight. Its likely a government contract.”

No nose door on a 744 BCF freighter. They’ll cut a hole for the aft cargo door, strengthen the floor, install the automated cargo handling system and power drive units, and refit the upper deck, but they won’t make a nose door.


Traffic normally going to Killeen was rerouted to Austin. I recently saw one of the same vehicles land in Killeen, so I thought the construction must have been completed, but I’ve also seen subsequent trips to Austin as well. Anyway, they all seem to go to military locations.

There is/was a variation of the 747 that can do both, its called a Combi. I dont know if any airline is still flying them or not.

I flew a KLM 747 combi from JFK to Amsterdam many, many moons ago… The worldwide interwebs say that Boeing did 200’s and 400’s as combi’s and they have the M suffix on the model number (747-200M and 747-400M) Party in the front, cargo in the back.

That aptly describes a number of first class/coach flights :slight_smile: