Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental conducts first flight


Boeing’s latest iteration of the 747 passenger jet, the 747-8 Intercontinental, performed the type’s maiden flight on Sunday, taking off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, for a four hour, 25 minute long flight.

Several thousand employees, customers, suppliers and community members gathered to watch the flight, which marks an important milestone for the Intercontinental programme and paves the way for the start of the flight test programme, which will finish towards the end of this year.
“This a great day for the 747-8 team and for all of Boeing. What an honour it is to see such a beautiful airplane fly,” said Elizabeth Lund, vice president and general manager of the 747-8 programme. “I want to thank everybody who had a hand in designing, building and preparing this airplane for flight – our engineers, our manufacturing employees, our colleagues in Boeing Fabrication, our colleagues in Boeing Test & Evaluation, our external suppliers – for all their hard work.”

The aircraft was crewed by 747 Chief Pilot Mark Feuerstein and Captain Paul Stemer. They took the Boeing aloft at 9:59 am local time and landed at 2:24 pm. The aircraft followed a route over Eastern Washington, where it underwent tests for basic handling and performance. The aircraft reached a cruising altitude of 19 000 feet (5 791 meters), and a speed of up to 250 knots, (288 mph/463 km/h).
“What a great privilege to be at the controls of such a great airplane on its first flight,” said Feuerstein. “And what an honour to share this day with the thousands of men and women who designed and built this airplane.”

The aircraft is painted in a new Sunrise livery of red-orange and is a significant departure from Boeing’s standard blue. The new colours honour many key Boeing customers whose cultures recognize these colours as symbols of prosperity and good luck, Boeing said. The Sunrise livery only will appear on the first 747-8 Intercontinental, which is scheduled to be delivered to a VIP customer at the end of the year.

Following Sunday’s flight the 747-8I will undergo another 600 flight hours as part of the type’s flight test programme.

Boeing claims the 747-8 Intercontinental will have the lowest seat-mile cost of any large commercial jetliner, with 12 percent lower costs than its predecessor, the 747-400. The airplane provides 16 percent better fuel economy, 16 percent less carbon emissions per passenger and generates a 30 percent smaller noise footprint than the 747-400. Much of these savings come from the advanced aerodynamic wing and more powerful, efficient engines.

The 747-8 Intercontinental has a lot in common with the 787 Dreamliner, including its cockpit and applies interior features from the Dreamliner that includes a new curved, upswept architecture giving passengers a greater feeling of space and comfort, while adding more room for personal belongings.

Korean Air and VIP customers have joined launch customer Lufthansa in ordering a total of 33 747-8 Intercontinentals. First delivery of the 747-8 Intercontinental is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year. Air China also has agreed to order five Intercontinentals at a cost of US1.54 billion, pending government approval.