Boeing announced today that it has joined the first 747-8’s wing box to the airplane’s 40-foot-long center fuselage section in the final assembly bay at its factory in Everett, Wash. Meanwhile, workers continue to prepare the wing and center section for final body join, when the center fuselage-wing assembly gets connected to the forward and aft fuselage sections.
“We continue to gain momentum on the assembly of the first 747-8 Freighter,” said Mo Yahyavi, vice president and general manager of the 747 program. “The airplane is coming together well and will be ready to fly later this year as planned.” Boeing’s schedules call for first flight of the airplane by year-end and delivery of the first production airplane to Cargolux by next year’s third quarter.
Yahyavi’s assurance comes as questions have begun to arise about whether Boeing would divert further resources from the 747-8 to the 787, after the most recent delay to the Dreamliner’s first flight. Boeing has not yet reset its first-flight target for the Dreamliner, nor has it said if it will divert more 747-8 resources to the project, however.
The 747 Program has secured firm orders for 78 of the new freighters, from Cargolux, Nippon Cargo Airlines, AirBridgeCargo Airlines, Atlas Air, Cathay Pacific, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, Emirates SkyCargo, Guggenheim and Korean Air. Lufthansa remains the only customer for the passenger version of the airplane, the 747-8 Intercontinental, schedules for which call for first delivery in the second quarter of 2011.