The Boeing 747-8 is a widebody commercial airliner being developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Officially announced in 2005, the 747-8 is the latest evolutionary variant of the Boeing 747, with lengthened fuselage, redesigned wings and improved efficiency. As of 2009, the first 747-8 freighter is due to be delivered in 3rd quarter 2010, with the passenger model scheduled for 2011.
In 2000, Boeing offered the 747X and 747X Stretch derivatives as alternatives to the Airbus A3XX. This was a more modest proposal than the previous -500X and -600X. It would increase the 747's wingspan to 229 ft (69.8 m) by adding a segment at the root. The 747X was to carry 430 passengers up to 8,700 nmi (16,100 km). The 747X Stretch would be extended to 263 ft (80.2 m) long, allowing it to carry 500 passengers up to 7,800 nmi (14,400 km). However, the 747X family was unable to attract enough interest to enter production. Some of the ideas developed for the 747X were used on the 747-400ER.
After the 747X program, Boeing continued to study improvements to the 747. The 747-400XQLR (Quiet Long Range) was meant to have an increased range of 7,980 nmi (14,780 km), with better fuel efficiency and reduced noise. Changes studied included raked wingtips similar to those used on the 767-400ER and a sawtooth engine nacelle for noise reduction. Although the 747-400XQLR did not move to production, many of its features were used for the 747 Advanced.
In early 2004, Boeing announced tentative plans for the 747 Advanced that were eventually adopted. Similar in nature to the 747-X, the stretched 747 Advanced used technology from the 787 to modernize the design and its systems.
On 14 November 2005, Boeing announced that it was launching the 747 Advanced as the "Boeing 747-8". The 747-8 and 747SP are the only 747 variants with a fuselage of modified length. This will be the first lengthened 747 to go in to production.
The 747-8 will use the same engine and cockpit technology as that of the 787. Boeing says that the new design will be quieter, more economical, and more environmentally friendly than previous versions of the 747. As a derivative of the already-common 747-400, the 747-8 has the economic benefit of similar training and interchangeable parts.
The 747-8, as the current new development of Boeing's largest airliner, is notably in direct competition on long-haul routes with the A380, a full-length double-deck aircraft now in service. For airlines seeking very large passenger airliners, the two have been pitched as competitors on various occasions.
Production of the first 747-8 Freighter began in Everett in early August 2008. On 14 November 2008, Boeing announced a delay to the 747-8 program, citing limited availability of engineering resources within Boeing, design changes, and the recent strike by factory workers. Delivery of the first 747-8 Freighter was rescheduled from late 2009 to the third quarter of 2010. The first 747-8 Intercontinental passenger jet delivery was rescheduled from late 2010 to the second quarter of 2011.
As of February 2009, only one airline customer (Lufthansa) had ordered the 747-8I passenger model, and Boeing announced it was reassessing the 747-8 project. Chief executive Jim McNerney stated that continuation of the project was not a foregone conclusion. The company was assessing various options.
The 747-8 is a development of the Boeing 747, which takes advantage of improvements in technology and aerodynamics. The two variants of the 747-8 were launched in 2005, and, as of 2006, both will feature a fuselage stretch of 18.3 ft (5.6 m) over the 747-400, bringing the total length to 250 ft 2½ in (76.26 m). The 747-8 will be the world's longest passenger airliner, surpassing the Airbus A340-600 by 3.6 ft (1.1 m). With a maximum take-off weight of 975,000 lb (442,000 kg), the 747-8 will be the heaviest aircraft, commercial or military, manufactured in the United States.
Compared to the 747-400, the main technical changes will be on the wing of the aircraft, which will undergo a complete design overhaul. The sweep and basic structure will be kept to contain costs, but the wing will be thicker and deeper, with the aerodynamics recalculated. The pressure distribution and bending moments will be different, with the new wing for the passenger version being planned to hold 64,225 US gal (243,120 l) of jet fuel, and the cargo aircraft 60,925 US gal (230,630 L). The new wing will have single-slotted outboard flaps and double-slotted inboard flaps. Raked wingtips, similar to the ones currently on the 777-200LR, 777-300ER, and 767-400ER models; and the 787-8 and 787-9 design will replace the winglets on the 747-400. These structures help reduce the wingtip vortices at the lateral edges of the wings, decreasing wake turbulence and drag, and thereby increasing fuel efficiency.
The extra fuel capacity in the redesigned wing compared to the 747-400 obviates the need to radically change the horizontal tail unit to accommodate auxiliary tanks, further saving costs. Nonetheless, the vertical tail unit will be raised slightly to 64 feet 2 inches (19.6 m) on the 747-8. Some carbon fiber-reinforced plastic will be utilized in the 747-8's airframe to reduce weight; however, structural changes will mostly be evolutionary, rather than revolutionary with respect to the 747-400.
The General Electric GEnx, which is one of the two powerplant choices currently offered for the Boeing 787, will be the only engine available for the 747-8. However, the 747 variant will be adapted to provide bleed air for conventional aircraft systems and feature a smaller diameter to fit on the 747 wing. The flight tests of the GEnx 2b engine started on the 23 March 2009 fitted to a Boeing 747-100 aircraft at the left inner engine.
The 747 has proven to be a very popular freighter, carrying around half of the world's air freight as of 2007. In an effort to maintain this dominant position, Boeing has designed a freight variant of the 747-8, dubbed 747-8 Freighter or 747-8F. The 747-8F will be the initial model to see entry into service (EIS). As on the 747-400F, the upper deck is shorter than passenger models; the 18 feet 3½ inches (5.58 m) stretch is just before and just aft of the wing. With a 970,000 lb (440,000 kg) maximum take-off weight, it will have a total payload capability of 308,000 lb (140,000 kg) and a range of 4,475 nmi (8,288 km). Four extra pallet spaces will be created on the main deck, with two extra containers and two extra pallets on the lower deck.
The 747-8F is expected to achieve a 16% lower ton-mile operating cost than the 747-400F and offer a slightly greater range. The 747-8F will have more payload capacity but less range than the current 747-400ERF. When Boeing launched the ERF, all of the 35,000 lb (16,000 kg) increase in MTOW over the 747-400F 875,000–910,000 lb (397,000–413,000 kg)) allowed airlines to take off with more fuel, burn it during flight, and land at the same weight as the regular 747-400F. This increased the range of the 747-400ERF compared to the 747-400F. Cargo carriers such as Cargolux often move machinery or indivisible loads that require a plane with a higher payload and landing capability. As is common with cargo planes, range is given with maximum payload, not fuel. The 747-8's 60,000 lb (27,000 kg) MTOW increase (970,000 lb or 440,000 kg) has been directed exclusively to its Zero-Fuel weight or payload capacity. If taking off at maximum payload, the 747-8 takes off with its tanks roughly half-empty. On trips where the payload is not at maximum, the plane can take on more fuel and extend its range.
The passenger version, dubbed 747-8 Intercontinental or 747-8I, will be capable of carrying up to 467 passengers in a 3-class configuration over 8,000 nmi (15,000 km) at Mach 0.855. The 747-8I will carry 51 more passengers and two more freight pallets than the 747-400. Despite initial plans for a shorter stretch than the freighter model, the two variants will be the same length, increasing passenger capacity and allowing easier modification of the 747-8I to freighter use. The upper deck will be lengthened on the -8I. New engine technology and aerodynamic modifications extend its range, allowing non-stop flights such as Hong Kong–New York, Sydney–Houston or Buenos Aires-Dubai. However, firm configuration was not expected until mid to late 2007.
For the 747-8, Boeing has proposed some changes to the interior layout of the aircraft. Most noticeable will be the stairway to the upper deck. On present 747-300 and -400 models, the stairway is straight, narrow, and runs from the galley area located at door 2 (the second door from the front of the aircraft) to the back of the upper deck, on the left-hand side. The stairway on the 747-8I will be a curved, sweeping staircase. Originally proposed to be on the right-hand side, it has been moved back to the left-hand side after Lufthansa's order. The window line will be extended to where the stairway reaches the upper deck, and a further set of windows may be placed overhead.
Further down the aircraft, it has been proposed to place cabin-accessible facilities in the "crown" area (the space above the passenger cabin, currently used for air-conditioning ducts and wiring). The wiring and ducts will be moved to the side to create extra space; as a consequence, they will not have windows. This added space can be used for galleys and crew rest areas, freeing up main deck space for additional passenger seating. During the initial 747-8 marketing phase, Boeing also proposed creating a revenue-generating "SkyLoft" passenger facility in the crown space. This facility would include "SkySuites," small individual compartments with sliding doors or curtains, featuring beds, seating, and entertainment or business equipment. A common lounge area could also be provided. Boeing also proposed smaller, more modest "SkyBunks". Access to the crown area would be via a separate stairway at the rear of the aircraft. Passengers using the SkySuites, sold at a premium price, would sit in regular economy class seats for take-off and landing, and move to the crown area during flight. However, pricing feasibility studies found the SkyLoft concept difficult to justify. In 2007, Boeing dropped the SkyLoft concept in favor of upper-deck galley storage options, which were favored by the airlines.
The main cabin uses an interior similar to that of the 787's. Overhead bins are curved, and the center row is designed to look as though it is attached to the curved ceiling, rather than integrated into the ceiling's curve like on the 777. The windows will also be of similar size to the type used on the 777 and the 767-400ER, which are 16% larger than those on the current 747-400s. The 747-8 will feature a new solid-state light-emitting diode (LED) lighting system. It will be possible to create various moods in the cabin, from sunrise to sunset, making travel a more comfortable and relaxing experience. At the same time, LED technology offers the additional advantages of lower maintenance costs and longer intervals between unscheduled repairs.
Lufthansa launched the 747-8 Intercontinental on December 6, 2006, becoming the first airline to order the variant. Though solitary VIP orders have been placed, Lufthansa will receive the first 747-8Is off the production line. Lufthansa is the only airline to order the -8I as of 2009. However, Boeing announced on July 15, 2008, at the Farnborough Airshow, Arik Air's intention to purchase the type, though that order is yet to be confirmed.
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Orders and deliveries
This airplane has not yet entered service. A total of 105 orders have been received with 78 being for 747-8F and 27 being for 747-8I as of April 2009. See List of Boeing 747-8 orders for details.
Sources: 747 specifications, 747-8 Specifications, 747-8 Airport Compatibility Brochure
Published - July 2009
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