Boeing 747-8

Boeing’s new 747-8 family of aircraft includes the 747-8 intercontinental in passenger and VIP variants and the 747-8 freighter aircraft. 107 orders for Boeing 747-8 intercontinental and Boeing 747-8 freighter aircraft were received as of December 2009.

The aircraft uses many of the technologies developed for the 787 Dreamliner, including the engines, interior configuration, flight deck technologies and instrumentation and wing configuration. These provide significant increases in passenger and freighter capabilities, improved fuel efficiency, reduced noise and emissions and improved operating economics.

The first flight of the 747-8 freighter was completed in February 2010. The maiden flight of the 747-8 intercontinental was completed in March 2011.

In December 2011, Boeing obtained certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the 747-8 intercontinental aircraft.

As of December 2012, 107 orders have been placed for 747-8 intercontinental passenger and freighter versions and 40 aircraft have been delivered.

Boeing 747-8 programme

"In September 2010, delivery of the Boeing 747-8 freighter was postponed further until 2011.”

Boeing launched the 747-8 programme in November 2005. Wind tunnel tests and load tests started in 2006. In November 2008, Boeing announced delays to the delivery schedule with delivery of the first freighter variant moved from late 2009 to the third quarter of 2010 and delivery of the intercontinental passenger variant moved from late 2010 to the second quarter of 2011.

However, in October 2009, Boeing announced another delay, setting the delivery back to the fourth quarter of 2010 for freighter aircraft and fourth quarter of 2011 for intercontinental version aircraft.

In September 2010, delivery of the Boeing 747-8 freighter was postponed further until 2011.

The first 747-8 intercontinental was rolled out in February 2011 at Boeing’s factory in Everett, Washington.

Orders and deliveries of Boeing 747-8

The 747-8 VIP variant of the 747-8 intercontinental passenger aircraft was first announced in October 2006, although a contract was placed months earlier by the launch customer, the government of Qatar, in May 2006.

By December 2009, orders had been placed for 74 freighters for: launch customer Cargolux based in Luxembourg (13 aircraft), Cathay Pacific (ten), Dubai Aerospace (15), Nippon Cargo Airlines (14), Atlas Air (nine), Korean Air (five) and Volga-Dnepr (five).

Related project

Boeing 747-400 Intercontinental Airliner, United States of America

Boeing originally designed the 747 in the 1960s for the US Air Force’s large jet cargo transport programme.

In January 2011, Guggenheim Aviation Partners cancelled its order for four Boeing 747-8 freighters due to delay in deliveries.

The forward production plans involve ramping down to completion and final production of the 747-400 series and the simultaneous ramping up of 747-8 production. Delivery of the final 747-400 was in early 2009.

In October 2011, Arik Air placed an order worth $635m for two 747-8 international aircraft.

The first 747-8 freighter was delivered to Cargolux in October 2011, with the first 747-8 passenger aircraft received by Lufthansa in May 2012.

The first of five 747-8F aircraft was delivered to Volga-Dnepr in January 2012, with the second following in April 2012. Korean Air received its first 747-8F aircraft in February 2012.

A 747-8 VIP variant was delivered to an unnamed customer in February 2012.

Boeing delivered the first of 14 747-8F to Nippon Cargo Airlines in July 2012.

Performance of the 747-8 airliner

The aircraft can able to operate from about 200 airports worldwide for hub-to-hub and hub-to-point operations.

The 14,815km (8,000nm) range allows direct connection between nearly every major city pair airports in the world, for example New York and Hong Kong, Los Angeles and Mumbai, London and Singapore.

The aircraft uses the same pilot type ratings as the 747, many existing 747 spares, services and the majority of the ground support equipment.

Boeing reports the seat-mile cost of the 747-8 intercontinental is 10% lower and 15% more fuel efficient compared to the 747-400, with nearly equivalent trip costs. Both versions of the 747-8 meet the stage 4 standard and the QC2 standard noise requirements.

Construction of 747-8 aircraft

The passenger and freighter versions have identical external dimensions and are made from aluminium rather than composite construction.

The aircraft has an upgraded flight deck and an improved wing design with raked wingtips, spoilers, ailerons, double-slotted inboard flaps and single-slotted outboard flaps. The wingspan is 68.5m.

Flight deck of 747-8

The 747-8 aircraft has conventional rather than fly-by-wire controls.

Rockwell Collins provided the entire, new avionics suite which includes: DU-7001 LCD displays upgraded electronic checklist with cursor control panel, navigation performance scales and vertical situation displays; autopilot and navigation systems with GPS landing system; WXR-2100 MultiScan hazard detection system; communication, navigation, surveillance, maintenance, emergency and data management systems.

747-8 VIP aircraft

The 747-8 VIP aircraft, announced in 2006 is customised to accommodate typically eight to 100 passengers. The cabin (length 63.25m, width 6.12m and height 2.39m) can be configured in executive or luxurious rooms and suites.

With eight passengers the range is 17,600km and with 100 passengers the range is 17,150km.

Intercontinental passenger aircraft

"The intercontinental passenger aircraft accommodates 467 passengers in a typical three-class configuration.”

The intercontinental passenger aircraft accommodates 467 passengers in a typical three-class configuration.

The 747-8 intercontinental uses interior features from the 787 Dreamliner, including the curved, upswept architecture and new lighting technology. The passenger entrance has a staircase to the upper deck. The new windows are larger than those on the 747-400 (38cm high x 27.3cm wide).

The total cargo capacity of the intercontinental is 161.5m³ which can accommodate seven pallets and 16 LD-1 containers plus additional bulk storage of 19.2m³.

The maximum fuel capacity of the 747-8 intercontinental is 243,120l (64,225gal) and the maximum range is 14,815km (8,000nm).

747-8 freighter

The freighter aircraft was launched in November 2005, with orders for 18 aircraft.

The freighter has a total cargo capacity of 854.3m³. The main deck volume capacity is 688.8m³ accommodating 34 2.4m x 3.2m pallets of which 27 are 3m-high pallets.

The lower hold volume capacity is 165.7m³ accommodating 12 2.4m x 3.2m pallets, two LD-1 containers and 14.7m³ bulk storage

The maximum fuel capacity of the 747-8 freighter is 229,980l.

The freighter aircraft has a range of 8,130km and has a 16% higher cargo volume than the 747-400. The maximum structural payload capacity is 134.2t.

GEnx-2B67 engines

"The engine provides 66,500lb of thrust.”

The aircraft has four engines mounted under the wings. The engine selected for the aircraft is the GEnx-2B67, the General Electric next-generation engine. The design of the 747-8 aircraft engine is slightly modified variant of the GEnx engine developed for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The engine provides 66,500lb of thrust.

The engine has composite front fan blades of diameter 105in, a high-pressure ratio compressor, and a twin-annular pre-swirler combustor to achieve lower emissions.

The combuster design provides efficient mixing of the fuel prior to ignition which yields lower nitrogen oxide levels and improved life.

The dual turbine configuration comprises a high-pressure first turbine and a second counter-rotating low-pressure turbine which provides improved fuel burn characteristics.

Middle River Aircraft Systems (MRAS) is developing and producing the thrust-reverser system, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc. the engine struts and nacelles.