Paris 2011: Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental Makes International Debut at Le Bourget

 - June 20, 2011, 12:45 AM

The first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental flew into a blustery Le Bourget Airport Sunday morning, fittingly marking its international airshow debut in its distinctive reddish-orange Sunrise livery.

In fact, the sun never set on 747 program chief test pilot Mark Feuerstein and his co-pilot, BBJ president Steve Taylor, during their nine-hour, 52-minute flight from Seattle’s Boeing Field to Le Bourget. Completing a 4,400-nm Great Circle route over Greenland and Scotland’s Isle of Isla, RC001 landed on Le Bourget’s Runway 25 at 9:30 a.m. The pilots reported a virtually flawless first international flight for the first 747-8I prototype.

“We received a lot of attention coming into Paris,” commented Feuerstein. “It’s an enormous privilege to bring the airplane to Paris for its debut…It’s an easy airplane to fly and truly is one of the finest flying airplanes in the sky today.”

On hand for the event, Rob Pollack, Boeing vice president of brand marketing, explained the reasoning behind the choice of the airplane’s unique paint scheme. The “Sunrise” color, he said, represents prosperity and good luck in eastern cultures. Aiming to market the airplane largely in the Far East and India, Boeing chose the livery largely to appeal to those markets.  

The airplane, one of five Boeing jetliners that on display at Paris, will remain on show until June 21, when it will return to flight-test activity.

Elizabeth Lund, 747-8 program manager, told AIN that the two Intercontinental flight-test aircraft have now flown some 300 hours, roughly a third of the expected total needed for certification. The OEM hopes to gain certification for the passenger version of the 747-8 by the end of the year.

Boeing expects the freighter version of the model, the 747-8F, to arrive in Le Bourget today by about 5 p.m. Lund said the company has completed 96 percent of the testing for that program and expects certification some time late this summer (see page 84).