A Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental has completed its first test flight in a program to certificate a package of fuel-efficiency improvements for the 747-8, including enhanced General Electric GEnx-2B engines.
With Boeing Flight Test and Evaluation Capt. Kirk Vining and Chief Pilot Capt. Mark Feuerstein at the controls, the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental passenger jet took off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington at 1:30 p.m. local time on May 20 and landed at Boeing Field in Seattle approximately four hours later.
“It was a great flight and the engines performed as expected,” said Capt. Vining. “This is an important milestone for the flight test program.”
The aircraft’s Performance Improvement Package (PIP) includes improvements to its GEnx-2B engines and to the software for its flight management computers.
Boeing says its continuous efforts to improve the 747-8 family have resulted in an accumulated 1.5 per cent gain in fuel efficiency since the first aircraft, a Boeing 747-8 Freighter, was delivered less than two years ago.
The new PIP improvements will give operators an aircraft that is an additional 1.8 per cent more efficient, according to Boeing.
“These improvements are a part of our commitment to continually improve our great airplanes for our customers,” said Eric Lindblad, vice president and general manager of the 747 program. “Improving fuel efficiency by another 1.8 per cent saves the airlines approximately one million dollars per year in fuel per airplane and reduces the carbon footprint.”
Boeing’s 747-8 PIP test program will also validate the design changes and demonstrate the operation of the horizontal-tank fuel system on the passenger version of the 747-8, which was deferred from the initial deliveries.
The new configuration will see its first delivery on a new 747-8I in early 2014 and will also be available for retrofit.
Entry into service of the new engines and FMC software will take place in late 2013.
Most Boeing 747-8 jets ordered to date have been freighters and slow sales for the type recently persuaded Boeing to announce it was cutting its 747-8 production rate from two aircraft a month to 1.75 a month on average. However, Boeing has seen several VIP customers order the passenger version of the aircraft and three airlines – Air China, Korean Air and Lufthansa – have ordered passenger 7747-8Is.