Boeing 747-8 finally takes off
The long awaited Boeing's 747–8 Intercontinental finally took off on its maiden flight, being the biggest and most fuel-efficient passenger airplane in Boeing's history to hit the skies.
The Boeing 747–8 soared gracefully through the early morning sky, creating a beautiful, sparkling image for the crowds gathered below on Snohomish Co (PAE) airport, Washington, on Sunday 20th March 2011.
A fully redesigned aircraft
The new Boeing 747–8 Intercontinental being the latest version of the 40 year old 747 jumbo jet, boasts advanced fuel efficiency and economies-of-scale in carrying more passengers than earlier models. It is the only airplane that will serve the 400–500 seat market with a unique and spacious interior. It is meant to rival the fully double-decker Airbus A380, which carries 525 passengers in a three-class configuration.
Moving away from the traditional blue colour of 747 jumbo jets to a striking orange, the Boeing 747–8, brought a new edge to the series of jumbo jets on the day it was unveiled. Boeing commented: “The airplane unveiled today is painted in a new Sunrise livery of red-orange that only will appear on the first 747–8 Intercontinental and is a significant departure from Boeing’s standard blue. The new colour palette honours many key Boeing customers whose cultures recognize these colours as symbols of prosperity and good luck.”
Enhanced capacity and efficiency
Boeing claims that the airplane will seat 467 passengers, that’s 51 more than the current 747 – whilst burning less fuel. The jet is also complete with new wings, tail and engines. In particular, the plane's new wing design is something to marvel at. Created using „the latest in computational fluid dynamics validated in the world's most sophisticated wind tunnels,“ the wings offer improved aerodynamics and larger fuel capacity whilst also allowing the plane to be as fast as any passenger aircraft on Earth. Furthermore, the 747–8 weighs less than its predecessors consisting mainly of new aluminium alloys, as well as containing graphite composites in certain areas of its structure. Therefore by weighing significantly lighter, less fuel is consumed and costs associated with navigating and landing are reduced. According to Boeing, „the materials are more durable and better able to resist corrosion and damage, which reduces maintenance and increases the time an aeroplane is available and productive.“
Noise footprint 30 percent smaller
Yet another thing Boeing is particularly proud of is the Intercontinental's reduced noise compared to other aircraft, with its „noise footprint“ being 30 percent smaller than that of the 747–400. As an example given by Boeing, they claimed that the new plane will be able to fly in and out of London's Heathrow airport 24 hours a day, unlike the majority of other aircraft which are subject to an evening curfew as a result of the noise they cause. As well as this, the airplane also boasts new changes to its interior- including an even more spacious entrance for passengers and curved stairway to the upper deck. Boeing claims the jet is “more comfortable and 19 feet longer”. So passengers should look forward to an innovating and comfortable experience.
Will this be the new Air Force One?
Sounds promising? Yes. Except that only two airlines have placed orders for the 747–8; Korean Airlines and Lufthansa. It seems that competition from the Boeing 747–8 might be somewhat limited in the travel industry, with only 33 orders being won so far. However, Boeing is confident that orders will pick up rapidly as the plane enters service later this year – well let’s hope so! As it would be a real shame if this new model wasn’t fully appreciated. Boeing also aims to have this new jumbo replace the Air Force One fleet of 747s used by American presidents, which should also increase the orders. Furthermore Boeing have revealed the first plane off the production line, will go to a VIP customer later this year.
However despite all this, there is a fear that due to a delay in its arrival, the credibility of the Boeing 747–8 may be somewhat damaged.
Petra Vaškových, Mar 22, 2011
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