Tuesday, February 9, 2010

747-8 First Flight Round Up

Boeing Photo
Yesterday, Boeing conducted the first flight of the enlarged version of the 747 known as the 747-8 after about a year delay. The aircraft, registered N747EX, took off at about 12:39 PM PST after a two and half hour delay due to low hanging clouds in the Everett area. Boeing needed a 1500 ft cloud ceiling and during the morning the ceilings were about 700 ft. The skies finally cleared and Boeing decided to go ahead with the first flight at 12:30 PM. The airplane did circuits around the Puget Sound vicinity as well as to the south of the Sound. The airplane landed back at Paine Field at about 4:18 PM PST thus making the total flight time 3 hours and 39 minutes.

Upon completion of the first flight Boeing put out the following press release:

News Release Issued: February 8, 2010 9:12 PM EST

Boeing 747-8 Freighter Successfully Completes First Flight Newest Boeing Freighter Touches Down Safely After 3-Hour, 39-Minute Mission

EVERETT, Wash., Feb. 8/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Boeing (NYSE: BA) 747-8 Freighter successfully took to the sky for the first time today before more than 5,000 employees, customers, suppliers and community leaders. The flight begins a test program for the world's most efficient freighter.

With 747 Chief Pilot Mark Feuerstein and Capt. Tom Imrich in the flight deck, the newest member of the 747 family took off at 12:39 p.m. local time from Paine Field in Everett and landed at Paine Field at 4:18 p.m.

"It was a real privilege to be at the controls of this great airplane on its first flight, representing the thousands of folks who made today possible," said Feuerstein. "The airplane performed as expected and handled just like a 747-400."

Today's flight was the first of more than 1,600 flight hours in the test program for the newest member of the Boeing freighter family. The airplane followed a route over Western Washington, where it underwent tests for basic handling qualities and engine performance. The airplane reached a cruising altitude of 17,000 feet (5,181 m) and a speed of up to 230 knots, or about 264 miles (426 km) per hour.

Powered by four General Electric GEnx-2B engines, the 747-8 Freighter will transition its testing program to Moses Lake, Wash., and Palmdale, Calif., where the other two test airplanes will join it in the coming month.

"This truly is a great day for The Boeing Company and the 747 program," said Mo Yahyavi, 747 program general manager and vice president, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "It's the culmination of the hard work and dedication of our employees, suppliers and customers. While there is still much to do, I am excited to begin the flight-test program, which will demonstrate the capabilities of this airplane."

The 747-8 Freighter is the new, high-capacity 747 that will give cargo operators the lowest operating costs and best economics of any freighter. The airplane is 250 feet, 2 inches (76.3 m) long, which is 18 feet, 4 inches (5.6 m) longer than the 747-400 Freighter. The stretch provides customers with 16 percent more revenue cargo volume compared with its predecessor. That translates to an additional four main-deck pallets and three lower-hold pallets.

"The 747-8 Freighter continues the leadership of the 747 Freighter families, which carries more than half of the world's air freight, making it the standard of the air cargo industry," Yahyavi said.

Boeing launched the airplane on Nov. 14, 2005, with firm orders for 18 747-8 Freighters: 10 from Cargolux of Luxembourg and eight from Nippon Cargo Airlines of Japan. All told, Boeing has secured 108 orders for the 747-8, of which 76 are orders for the new freighter. Cargolux, Nippon Cargo Airlines, AirBridgeCargo Airlines, Atlas Air, Cathay Pacific, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, Emirates SkyCargo, Guggenheim and Korean Air all have ordered the 747-8 Freighter.

Aviation media swarmed Paine Field in anticipation of this first flight and much of what follows are links to their reporting.

Flightblogger was on the Berm at Paine Field reporting on the first flight and has quite a bit of photos and videos posted.

Flightblogger: 747-8F First Flight Photos

Flightglobal : 747-8F First Flight

Saj Ahmad at Fleetbuzzeditorial.com also had a great piece on the 747-8 first flight as well as revealing a few tidbits of the 747-8I program. The first 747-8I should start final assembly in late 2nd quarter/early 3rd quarter of this year with roll out occurring in the 4th quarter of this year and first flight in the first quarter of 2011. Delivery of the first 747-8I should take place in 4th quarter of 2011 to a private BBJ customer in Kuwait followed shortly thereafter by first delivery to Lufthansa.

Fleetbuzzeditorial.com : Boeing 747-8F Takes to the Air

Dave Parker Brown of Airline Reporter was also at Everett and recorded a lot of video as well as photos. Thanks to Dave Brown for allowing me to use his video but you can also see his photos linked below:

AirlineReporter 747-8F Take Off Photos

Airline Reporter 747-8F Landing Photos

The following video is courtesy of David Parker Brown at AirlineReporter.com

Dave Brown's Take Off Video:

Dave Brown's 747-8F Landing Video

Matt Cawby, a fixture at Everett, got three great videos and a few nice pictures on his blog post:

Matt Cawby's 747-8F First Flight Post

Aviation Week has set up a page dedicated solely to the 747-8 first flight and includes a lot of extras like videos, photos, and interactive timeline and more.

Aviation Week's 747-8 First Flight Coverage

Aubrey Cohen at the Seattle Post Intelligencer got some great shots of the first flight as well:

Seattle PI 747-8 Photos

Aubrey Cohen's 747-8 First Flight Story

Lastly, as with the 787 program, I'll be attempting to track the 747-8 flight test progress. You can see the progress at the bottom of this blog which I'll try to keep as current as possible.

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