Air China became the third airline to commit to the passenger version of the Boeing 747-8 since the launch of the program in 2005 with the signature of an “agreement” covering five 747-8 Intercontinentals. The agreement remains contingent on Chinese government approval, at which time Boeing will post the contract in its firm order book. Boeing received clearance to post orders for some 200 airliners from China during an official state visit by Chinese president Hu Jintao in January.
Air China, the flag carrier of the People’s Republic of China, will use the airplanes to expand international routes, said Boeing in a statement. The companies did not specify delivery dates.
Carrying 467 passengers in a three-class configuration, the 747-8 Intercontinental features a new GEnx-2B engines, a new wing design, an updated flight deck and an interior that incorporates features from the 787 Dreamliner.
Since the program’s launch, Boeing has secured several modest orders for the cargo version of the airplane, but had experienced less success marketing the passenger variant. To date, the company has secured firm orders for 25 Intercontinentals from Lufthansa and Korean Air. It has also sold eight VIP-configured Intercontinentals. All told, it holds firm orders for 107 of the four-engine airplanes, including 74 of the 747-8F freighter.