First 747-8I rolled out
Boeing rolled out the first 747-8I Sunday (Feb. 13) in pomp and ceremonies that were foregone with the rollout a few years ago of the freighter version.
Here is some of the news coverage:
At a major press event Saturday, attended by some 80 global print and broadcast media, officials touted the 747′s fuel efficiencies compared with previous 747 models and, of course, against the Airbus A380. Airbus and Boeing have been having a running battle for years over which airplane is more efficient; Aubrey Cohen of The Seattle PI discusses this in his article above, which includes a link to a piece we did a year ago citing Lufthansa and Emirates figures which favored Airbus.
At the press conference, LH’s EVP of fleet, Nico Buchholz was asked by Cohen which airplane was more fuel efficient and Buchholz, mindful of his guests, neatly dodged the question, saying only theA380 and 747-8 were “very close.”
Setting aside the rivalries between the A380 and 747, Boeing built the -8 with cockpit commonality to other Boeing airplanes in mind. The following training transition times apply for the “differences training:”
- 747-400 (744) to 747-8 (748): three days;
- 748 to 787-8 (788): six days;
- 788 to 748: nine days;
- 748 to 777: eight days; and
- 777 to 748: 11 days.
The flight deck is a significant upgrade from the 744 and the 748 used fly-by-wire to the ailerons and spoilers. This system also is part of the solution to the vibration that received so many headlines last year in flight testing for the 748F. According to officials Saturday, the vibration amounted to only one inch of movement at the wingtips and would not have been identified by airline pilots in normal operations; only instrumentation in abnormal flight test configuration discovered the problem, which officials say is fixed.
The 748 is slightly larger than the 744, but enough to require approval from ICAO for 744-type flight separation for landing. This is pending; for the moment, the 748 requires greater separation between it and the following airplane in the landing pattern.
Officials are “optimistic” for landing more orders for the -8I and the -8F now that the global economy is improving and as the airplanes near entry-into-service this year and next. Lufthansa Airlines plans to put the -8I into service in the first quarter next year. Boeing acknowledges the flight testing schedule is “aggressive” but achievable, absent the unknown-unknowns that have bedeviled the 787 and 747-8F flight testing programs. Officials acknowledged the 747 model had not spent enough time in wind tunnel testing, thus failing to reveal vibrations and other aerodynamic issues that did not emerge until flight tests of the real airplane.