Boeing Assembles First 747-8

 - July 21, 2009, 6:25 AM

Boeing announced today that it has assembled the major sections of the first 747-8 Freighter this week, as mechanics at the factory in Everett, Wash., loaded the forward and aft fuselage sections to join with the wing and center section. Schedules call for first flight of the latest 747 by the end of the year.

“It is exciting to see this airplane taking shape,” said Mo Yahyavi, vice president and general manager of the 747 program. “The 747-8 is the largest commercial jet airplane we have assembled. This final body join provides us the first real look at the size of the 747-8 Freighter.”

The 747-8 Freighter extends 250 feet, 2 inches–18 feet, 4 inches longer than the 747-400 Freighter. Boeing says the stretch gives the new airplane 16-percent more revenue cargo volume than that of its predecessor. That translates into four additional main-deck pallets and three additional lower-hold pallets, according to the Chicago-based manufacturer.

Boeing has secured orders for 78 of the cargo version of the newest 747, while the passenger version, known as the Intercontinental, has still drawn just a single order for 20 airplanes from Lufthansa Airlines. Launch customer Cargolux expects to take delivery of the first Freighter during next year’s third quarter. Nippon Cargo Airlines, AirBridgeCargo Airlines, Atlas Air, Cathay Pacific, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, Emirates SkyCargo, Guggenheim and Korean Air account for the remainder of the cargo version’s customers.

Boeing plans to deliver the first Intercontinental to Lufthansa in the fourth quarter of 2011.