The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental successfully began its flight test programme yesterday, taking off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington state, before several thousand employees, customers, suppliers and community leaders. The aircraft landed four hours and 25 minutes later at Boeing Field in Seattle. The 747-8 Intercontinental’s first flight marks the beginning of a flight test programme that will finish in the fourth quarter of 2011.
With 747 Chief Pilot Mark Feuerstein and Capain Paul Stemer at the controls, the newest member of the 747 family took off at 9:59am and landed at 2:24pm local time.
“What a great privilege to be at the controls of such a great airplane on its first flight,” said Feuerstein. “And what an honor to share this day with the thousands of men and women who designed and built this airplane.”
Today’s flight was the first of more than 600 flight hours in the test programme for the new 747-8 Intercontinental. The airplane followed a route over Eastern Washington, where it underwent tests for basic handling and performance. The plane reached a cruising altitude of 19,000 feet (5,791 metres), and a speed of up to 250 knots, or about 288 miles per hour (463 kilometers).
“This a great day for the 747-8 team and for all of Boeing. What an honor it is to see such a beautiful airplane fly,” said Elizabeth Lund, Vice President and General Manager of the 747-8 program. “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 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 aircraft 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. The 747-8 Intercontinental applies interior features from the 787 Dreamliner that includes a new curved, upswept architecture giving passengers more headroom, while adding more room for personal belongings. The list price for the 747-8 Intercontinental is US$293-308 million.
So far, four airlines has ordered 38 B747-8 Intercontinentals. 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. Air China also has agreed to order five Intercontinentals, pending government approval.
The aircraft is painted in a new Sunrise livery of red-orange and is a significant departure from Boeing’s standard blue, as a nod to customers in the Asia Pacific region. Boeing said the new livery “honours many key Boeing customers whose cultures recognise these colors as symbols of prosperity and good luck”. 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.