Boeing says it has finished gauntlet testing – simulating flight conditions to test aircraft systems – the latest version of its venerable 747 range, the 747-8 Intercontinental. The tests were completed over the weekend in preparation for its first flight on Sunday.
Boeing finished the two-day long test on Sunday and is now subjecting the aircraft to final flight reviews and taxi testing.
“The team continues to do great work to get the 747-8 Intercontinental into the air,” said Elizabeth Lund, vice president and general manager, 747 programme.
First flight of the 747-8 Intercontinental will occur after final flight readiness reviews, receipt of documentation from the US Federal Aviation Administration and taxi testing, Boeing says. Both taxi testing and first flight are subject to weather conditions.
If all goes according to plan, the 747-8I will take off Sunday some time after 10 am local time. Boeing is pushing the 747-8I programme hard, and if the first flight occurs on Sunday, Boeing will have gone from unveiling the model to maiden flight in just over a month. This would be much faster than with the 787 Dreamliner, which was unveiled in July 2007 and only flew in December 2009.
However, it should be noted that the 747-8F cargo version, which the Intercontinental shares a lot in common, first flew on February 8 last year.
Boeing is calling its 747-8 the most fuel- and cost-efficient passenger aircraft it has ever produced, thanks to highly aerodynamic wings, efficient engines and many other changes that make it a very different aircraft from the iconic 747 that entered service in 1970.
The 747 was the largest passenger aircraft in service until the rival Airbus A380 superjumbo entered service in 2007. Boeing is trying to take back some of the A380’s market but orders for the 747-8I have been slow and most orders have been for the cargo variant.
The 747-8 uses the same General Electric GEnx-2B67 engines and cockpit as the 787 Dreamliner, hence the ‘8′ suffix. The passenger version will be able to carry up to 457 passengers in a three class configuration and will have a range of 9 200 miles or 14 815 km compared to the 6 100 mile/9 800 km range of the 747-100.