Boeing 747-8I Takes Flight
The new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental successfully completed its 4 hour 25 minutes inaugural flight, landing safely at Boeing Field in Seattle in front of a crowd of spectators gathered for the occasion. The new model Boeing began its flight at 09h59 PDT from Boeing’s assembly site at Paine Field in Everett, Washington State, with captains Mark Feuerstein and Paul Stemer at the controls. Following a route which took the aircraft along the Canadian border, over eastern Washington and along the Olympic Peninsula, the flight crew ran through a comprehensive checklist to substantiate the Boeing 747-8I’s handling features.
While this was the first time the passenger version of the Boeing 747-8 (dubbed RC001) has taken to the skies, the cargo version has already clocked up nearly 2,000 flights. The experience and information gathered during these flights undoubtedly contributed to the resounding success of the inaugural flight of the RC001.
During the test flight, most of which was spent in the eastern region of Washington State, the crew took the aircraft to a top altitude of 20,000 feet, pushing the speed to 250 knots and cutting back to 105 knots – close to the stall speed. As the commander of the first flight of the Boeing 747-8 Freighter, Feuerstein is very familiar with the capabilities of the aircraft. Based on its performance, the pilots decided to carry out a number of flight procedures that were scheduled to take place at a later stage in the development and testing of the Boeing 747-8I before it is put into commercial service – with satisfying results.
With the capacity to carry up to 467 passengers in a three-class configuration, the new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental seats 51 more passengers than the Boeing 747-400 that it will be replacing. The aircraft has a range of 14,815 kilometers (8,000 nautical miles), with quieter engines producing lower emissions and achieving lower fuel consumption. Moreover, both the Boeing 747-8 Freighter and the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental can make use of the existing ground equipment and infrastructure of most airports around the world.
The pursuit for larger seating capacity by competing airplane manufacturers has been questioned by some. With the goal of filling all their seats for each trip they make, the 365-seater Boeing 737-300ER is considered to be an ideal size by many passenger carriers. However, the Boeing 747-8 Freighter has received a positive response with orders reportedly already placed by Lufthansa, Korean Air and Air China.