Boeing has broken with the company’s recent tradition by unveiling the passenger version of the new 747-8 in a red and orange flight-test livery.
The company unveiled the 747-8 Intercontinental, which together with its sister the 747-8F freighter is the world’s longest volume-production commercial aircraft (only the Antonov An-225 Mriya is longer) and represents the third generation of Boeing’s venerable 747 family, at a ceremony at its Everett, Washington widebody final-assembly plant on February 13, 2011.
As with all roll-outs of major new commercial-aircraft types by Boeing and Airbus, the official unveiling of the 747-8I was attended by an audience of thousands of employees and guests.
In addition to Boeing executives, speakers at the ceremony included Nico Buchholz, executive vice president of fleet management for Lufthansa Group, which is the launch customer for the 747-8I; and Bill Fitzgerald, vice president and general manager of the GEnx product line for General Electric. The GEnx-2B67 powers both the 747-8I passenger aircraft and the 747-8F freighter aircraft.
For the past several decades, all new Boeing commercial jets have been rolled out wearing color schemes which are predominantly blue, and accordingly the phrase “Boeing blue” has become well-known in describing the company’s house aircraft liveries for flight-test and demonstration aircraft.
However, according to Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager of airplane programs for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Boeing decided to paint the new 747-8I red and orange rather than blue because throughout the world those colors commonly symbolize progress, prosperity and fortune.
At 250 feet 2 inches (76.25 metres) in length, the Boeing 747-8 family is 18 feet 4 inches (5.6 metres) longer than any other version of the 747 ever built. Boeing achieved the extra fuselage length by installing a 13ft 4in (4.06m) fuselage plug ahead of the wing and a 5ft (1.52m) fuselage plug aft of it.
This makes the 747-8 family (both the -8F freighter and the -8I passenger version have the same fuselage length) 3 feet 1 inch longer than the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy; 3 feet 2 inches longer than the Airbus A340-600 (until now the world’s longest volume-production, fixed-wing commercial aircraft); 10 feet 2 inches longer than the Airbus A380; and 10 feet 5 inches longer than the 777-300ER, until now Boeing’s longest commercial jet.
The upper deck of the 747-8I passenger version, which is designed to carry up to 487 passengers in three-class configuration, is 5 feet (1.06m) longer than that of the 747-400 and 36 feet 5 inches (11.1 metres) longer than that of the 747-8F.
Boeing’s new 747 can also take off at a higher gross weight than any other jet built by the company. The 747-8 family has a mximum taxi weight of 978,000lb (443, 613kg) and a maximum gross take-off weight of 975,000lb (442,250kg), 65,000lb greater than that of the 747-400ER and the 747-400F and exactly 100,000lb higher than that of the basic 747-400 passenger aircraft.
According to Boeing, the 747-8I has 12 per cent lower operating costs than the 747-400 passenger aircraft, as well as 16 per cent better fuel efficiency. Its GEnx-2b67 engines – each rated at 67,000lb (299kN) of take-off thrust – also make it some 30 per cent quieter in terms of airport noise footprint.
The extra power provided by the new GEnx engines, the 747-8I’s new supercritical-airfoil wing – which, at 224 feet 7 inches, has a total span 11 feet 2 inches wider than that of the 747-400 – and its extra take-off weight will give it a range of 8,000 nautical miles (14,800km), according to Boeing.
The 747-8I’s extra upper-deck length also gives it an aerodynamic boost. This will give it a typical cruise speed of Mach 0.855 at 35,000 feet, while the 747-8F (which has a short upper deck) will cruise at Mach 0.845 at the same altitude.