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Jumbo jet draws attention in our airspace

It's been a while since the Rogue Valley had an air show, but between the military jets and helicopters, the fire-fighting boron bombers and Erickson Air-Crane Sikorskys we can see plenty of interesting objects in our sky. On Wednesday I saw a large commercial jet circling overhead. Can you tell me what it was and if it means we're getting a new airline coming to Medford?

—Steven S., via email

It was hard to miss the Boeing 777-200 cutting a wide swath over the Rogue Valley. In fact, we saw at least two Facebook picture posts even as the plane rumbled past our window.

The Boeing 777-200 is 209 feet long with a wing span of 199 feet and has a maximum payload of 506,000 pounds at takeoff. It handles more than 300 passengers — more than 400 in some cases.

Medford airport director Bern Case said the spanking-new Air China aircraft was on a test run prior to Boeing delivering the plane to its owner.

"They like to put in a few landings and takeoffs on them before they deliver them," Case said.

Boeing cleared the operation for three complete-stop landings and takeoffs, but Case wasn't sure whether Air China pilots were on board along with the Boeing crew.

The 777-200 has a range of 3,900 miles, Case said, so it can hopscotch the Pacific, refuel in Honolulu or Anchorage. But don't expect Air China service to Beijing any time soon.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.