Boeing First 747-8 Freighter Leaves Factory





Boeing's First 747-8 Freighter Leaves Factory

Bill Goldston


Boeing 747-8 Freighter

November 13, 2009, Everett, Washington. Boeing (NYSE: BA), on Thursday afternoon, Boeing towed its first 747-8 Freighter out of the factory in Everett, Wash. The airplane, ultimately destined for Cargolux, will be painted and begin preparations for flight test. 

"It is very rewarding to see this airplane transition to the flight test phase," said Mo Yahyavi, 747 program vice president and general manager. "Our employees, suppliers and customers have put a lot of work into making the 747-8 Freighter a reality." 

The 747-8 Freighter is the new high-capacity 747 that will give cargo operators the lowest operating costs and best economics of any freighter airplane while providing enhanced environmental performance.


It is 250 feet, 2 inches (76.3 m) long, which is 18 feet and 4 inches (5.6 m) longer than the 747-400 Freighter. The stretch provides customers with 16 percent more revenue cargo volume compared to its predecessor. That translates to four additional main-deck pallets and three additional lower-hold pallets. 

Boeing has secured 105 orders for the 747-8, 78 of which are orders for the new freighter. Cargolux, Nippon Cargo Airlines, AirBridgeCargo Airlines, Atlas Air, Cathay Pacific, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, Emirates SkyCargo, Guggenheim and Korean Air all have placed orders for the 747-8 Freighter. The Boeing 747-8 is a widebody commercial airliner being developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Officially announced in 2005, the 747-8 is the latest evolutionary variant of the Boeing 747, with lengthened fuselage, redesigned wings and improved efficiency. As of 2009, the first 747-8 freighter is due to be delivered in 3rd quarter 2010, with the passenger model scheduled for 2011.  

On November 14, 2005, Boeing announced that it was launching the 747 Advanced as the "Boeing 747-8". This will be the first lengthened 747 to go in to production. The 747-8 and 747SP are the only 747 variants with a fuselage of modified length. The 747-8 will use the same engine and cockpit technology as that of the 787. Boeing says that the new design will be quieter, more economical, and more environmentally friendly than previous versions of the 747. As a derivative of the already-common 747-400, the 747-8 has the economic benefit of similar training and interchangeable parts.  

The 747-8, as the current new development of Boeing's largest airliner, is notably in direct competition on long-haul routes with the Airbus A380, a full-length double-deck aircraft now in service. For airlines seeking very large passenger airliners, the two have been pitched as competitors on various occasions. 

Production of the first 747-8 Freighter began in Everett in early August 2008. On November 14, 2008, Boeing announced a delay to the 747-8 program, citing limited availability of engineering resources within Boeing, design changes, and the recent strike by factory workers. Delivery of the first 747-8 Freighter was rescheduled from late 2009 to the third quarter of 2010. The first 747-8 Intercontinental passenger jet delivery was rescheduled from late 2010 to the second quarter of 2011. On July 21, 2009, Boeing released a photograph of the first cargo airplane, its fuselage and main wing assembled.  

As of February 2009, only one airline customer (Lufthansa) has ordered the 747-8I passenger model, and Boeing announced it was reassessing the 747-8 project. Chief executive Jim McNerney stated that continuation of the project was not a foregone conclusion. The company was assessing various options. In October 2009, Boeing announced that it had delayed first flight on the 747-8 until first quarter 2010 and delayed 747-8I delivery. The company took a $1 billion charge for this delay. In response, launch customer Cargolux told the Wall Street Journal it still intended to take delivery of the thirteen freighters it had ordered; Lufthansa confirmed its commitment to the passenger version. 

Dec. 06, 2006, Deutsche Lufthansa AG announced the carrier ordered 20 747-8 Intercontinentals. The Lufthansa order, with a total average list-price value of $5.5 billion, is scheduled for delivery beginning in 2010.

The 747-8 Intercontinental is the only jetliner in the 400- to 500-seat market, stretched 5.6 m (18.3 ft) from the 747-400 to provide 467 seats in a three-class configuration and a 14,815-km (8,000-nmi) range. Using 787-technology engines, the airplane will be quieter, produce lower emissions, and achieve better fuel economy than any competing jetliner. The 747 Intercontinental will provide nearly equivalent trip costs and 13 percent lower seat-mile costs than the 747-400, plus 26 percent greater cargo volume. Operating economics will offer a significant improvement over the A380. The 747-8 is more than 10 percent lighter per seat than the A380 and will consume 11 percent less fuel per passenger than the 555-seat airplane. That translates into a trip-cost reduction of 21 percent and a seat-mile cost reduction of more than 6 percent, compared to the A380. Both the 747-8 Intercontinental and 747-8 Freighter can use the existing infrastructure and ground equipment at most airports worldwide. 

The 747-8 Freighter will be longer than the 747-400F by 5.6 m (18.3 ft) and have a maximum structural payload capability of 140 metric tonnes (154 tons) with a range of 8,130 km (4,390 nmi). Also powered by 787-technology engines, it will achieve the same environmental benefits as the 747-8 Intercontinental. The 747-8 Freighter will have nearly equivalent trip costs and 16 percent lower ton-mile costs than the 747-400, plus 16 percent more revenue cargo volume than its predecessor. The additional 120 cu m (4,245 cu ft) of volume means the airplane can accommodate four additional main-deck pallets and three additional lower-hold pallets. Operating economics of the 747-8 Freighter will be significantly superior to the A380F. The 747-8F's empty weight is 80 tonnes (88 tons) lighter than the A380F, resulting in a 24 percent lower fuel burn per ton, 21 percent lower trip costs and 23 percent lower ton-mile costs than the A380F. 

Seating: 467 passengers in a three-class configuration

Range: Intercontinental 8,000 nmi (14,815 km) ? Freighter 4,390 nmi (8,130 km)  

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