Boeing 747-8F Gains FAA, EASA Certification

 - August 22, 2011, 8:30 AM
Boeing plans to deliver the first 747-8F to Cargolux early next month. (Photo: Boeing)

The Boeing 747-8F Freighter gained FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification last Friday, paving the way for first delivery to launch customer Cargolux early next month. “Over the last several years, this team has overcome challenge after challenge,” said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Through their hard work and dedication, they have ensured that the 747, the Queen of the Skies, will fly for decades to come.” The “challenges” to which Albaugh referred forced Boeing to add two more airplanes to the 747-8 program since first flight of the Freighter on Feb. 8, 2010, increasing the size of the test fleet to five. The fifth airplane, RC523, entered testing on February 4, as Boeing moved to recover some “margin” it lost as a result of flight-test discoveries such as buffeting at flap setting 30 and, later, a low-frequency wingtip vibration in certain flight conditions and an underperforming aileron actuator. Still, much of the difficulty associated with the 747-8 since its inception centered on what program manager Elizabeth Lund characterized as the complexity of the new flight management computer. Although Honeywell’s FMC will not immediately deliver all the functionality its designers had initially planned, it will do everything the computer on the 747-400 can do, she said during a briefing before June’s Paris Air Show. Although Todd Zarfos, 747 program vice president of engineering, insisted last Friday that Boeing had accomplished the milestones it had set for itself regarding the Freighter’s FMC, he also noted that work remains pending. “We have some new functionality that was above and beyond the capability of the 747-400 that we are going to do as a later block point, and we are in the final stages of negotiating exactly when those entry points will be,” he said. Boeing originally had scheduled first delivery of the 747-8F Freighter during the fourth quarter of 2009. All told, the program logged more than 3,400 hours during 1,200 test flights and “many thousands” more of ground, part, component, materials and other testing during its journey to certification. Meanwhile, Boeing expects the passenger version of the 747-8, known as the Intercontinental, to gain its FAA and EASA approvals by the end of the year. So far Boeing has collected firm orders for 134 of the quad-jets, including 56 Intercontinentals.