Boeing has begun assembling the fuselage of the first 747-8 Intercontinental at its factory in Everett, Wash., the company announced today. Mechanics loaded panels for the 31-foot, 8-inch long front section of the new airplane into the assembly tool. The panels comprise part of section 41, the area of the fuselage that houses the flight deck on the upper deck and the forward passenger cabin on the main deck, an area that most airlines typically configure with first-class seating.
The start of assembly of the first passenger version of the 747-8 marks the latest milestone in a program that has so far drawn orders for 109 airplanes-33 for the Intercontinental and 76 for the 747-8 Freighter. Boeing mechanics loaded the 111-foot wing spar for the first 747-8 Intercontinental into its assembly tool on May 6.
Meanwhile, three flight-test articles now fly in the certification program for the 747-8 Freighter, and Boeing plans to add a fourth to conduct engineering testing, allowing the program to remove non-instrumented or minimally instrumented work statements from the three core flight-test airplanes. The Intercontinental program will use two test articles, according to a Boeing spokesman.
Boeing plans to fly the first Intercontinental in the first quarter of next year and deliver the first airplane to launch customer Lufthansa in late 2011.