Boeing plans to fly the 747-8 Intercontinental for the first time next month, in time for certification and initial deliveries in the fourth quarter. Elizabeth Lund, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of product development, called that schedule “aggressive, but achievable.” Todd Zarfos, 747-8 engineering v-p, said handling and vibration issues had been resolved on a freighter version, the 747-8F, currently in flight test. Meanwhile, Boeing continues to work with GE to “optimize” the engine’s specific fuel consumption.
Despite booking orders for just thirty-three 747-8Is, Boeing executives expressed confidence that a robust market exists for the aircraft over the long haul. The company unveiled the latest iteration of its iconic quad-engine jumbo jet on February 13. Compared with the 747-400, the new variant is 18.3 feet longer, including a 13.3-foot upper deck stretch, has a redesigned main wing, new General Electric GEnx-2B67 engines with 66,500 pounds of thrust each and an increased mtow of 975,000 pounds. In a typical mixed-class configuration, the aircraft will seat 467 and fly 8,000 nm at Mach 0.86.
Boeing anticipates a market for 720 large aircraft–meaning the 747 and the Airbus A380–between now and 2029. It expects passenger jets to account for 550 of the total. Airbus already has sold 240 A380s.