Today, Boeing unveiled the newest member of the 747 family, the 747-8I. What wasn't very anticipated was the new lines of the aircraft since Boeing has been releasing photos of the assembly of the first 747-8I. The main buzz was surrounding the color scheme of the first airplane with some expecting a scheme similar to the one that is painted on the first 787 or one that is painted on the 747-8Fs that are currently in test flights.
Boeing revealed the 747 in a hybrid scheme of a red-orange colored 747 in the 787 Dreamliner paint scheme which they dubbed "Sunrise". The scheme is meant to symbolize the bridging of the gap between the original 747-100 (painted in red for its unveiling in the early 70's) which flew over 40 years ago and today's new 747.
The aircraft has since been towed to the Boeing flightline where it will undergo 6 weeks of preflight ground testing prior to its first flight expected at the end of March (latest word is around March 21st).
The second 747-8I to fly is an aircraft destined for Lufthansa in early 2012. This airplane should roll out in about a month and should be flying in late April. Both airplanes will conduct certification test flights over a 4 month period and encompassing about 600 flight test hours.
The 747-8 program has run into it share of difficulties partly due to the problems related to the 787 but also issues with regards to design which has stretched the testing and certification timeline out. Boeing is still planning to deliver the first 747-8I to the customer by the end of this year and to Lufthansa early next year. Here's Boeing's press release on the 747-8I unveiling:
Boeing Celebrates Premiere of New 747-8 Intercontinental
- Thousands gather for unveiling of only airplane to serve 400-500 seat market
- New 747 delivers unrivaled efficiency, new benchmark in environmental performance, welcoming interior for passengersEVERETT, Wash., Feb. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) today unveiled its new 747-8 Intercontinental, the new high-capacity passenger airplane that offers airlines the lowest operating costs and best economics of any large passenger airplane while providing enhanced environmental performance.
Approximately 10,000 guests, including customers, Boeing employees, government officials, partners and suppliers, gathered in the factory in Everett, Wash., to witness the premiere of the Intercontinental at an event themed "Incredible, Again." Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Albaugh said the newest 747 incorporates technological advancements that make it an extremely productive airplane for customers.
"The new 747-8 Intercontinental features the latest in innovative technologies — applying many of the breakthroughs also found on the 787 Dreamliner," said Albaugh. "We think our customers will value the low operating costs and passengers will enjoy the comfort of the striking new interior."
"The 747-8 Intercontinental will be a great complement to our fleet, fitting nicely into the 400-seat category, improving our fleet's eco-efficiency even further," said Nico Buchholz, executive vice president, Lufthansa Group Fleet Management. "As launch customer, we are looking forward to welcoming this new aircraft to our fleet next year as it adds to our ongoing fleet modernization and environmental efforts."
Korean Air and VIP customers have joined launch customer Lufthansa in ordering a total of 33 747-8 Intercontinentals. First delivery of the 747-8 Intercontinental is scheduled for the fourth quarter.
"As the only airplane in the 400 to 500-seat market, the 747-8 Intercontinental will give operators an airplane perfectly suited for long, heavily traveled routes around the world," said Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager, Airplane Programs, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "The new 747-8 Intercontinental will set a new standard in economic and environmental performance, while providing a world-class passenger experience."
The 747-8 Intercontinental will have the lowest seat-mile cost of any large commercial jetliner, with 12 percent lower costs than its predecessor, the 747-400. The airplane provides 16 percent better fuel economy, 16 percent less carbon emissions per passenger and generates a 30 percent smaller noise footprint than the 747-400. The 747-8 Intercontinental applies interior features from the 787 Dreamliner that includes a new curved, upswept architecture giving passengers a greater feeling of space and comfort, while adding more room for personal belongings.
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 color palette honors many key Boeing customers whose cultures recognize these colors as symbols of prosperity and good luck.
Here's some links to others who had covered today's festivities in Everett: