Boeing's latest airliner took off for the first time Monday at 12:39 p.m. The Boeing 747-8 was scheduled for a four-hour flight around the Pacific Northwest after a smooth liftoff from Paine Field. It landed at 4:18 p.m. after an uneventful flight to check basic handling and engine performance. The aircraft is the longest ever built by Boeing and the first test article is a cargo version. The passenger version will follow in about a year and will carry up to 467 people in three classes. The cockpit is virtually identical to that of the 787 Dreamliner and passenger amenities will be similar.
Although the 787 has been grabbing the limelight, the 747-8 project is considered an important part of the company's future business plan. Both aircraft have similar ranges and Boeing sees the 747-8 serving major world hubs while the 787 offers airlines the range flexibility to offer non-stop long-haul flights between smaller cities. The new 747 is powered by GEnx-2B67 engines that put out 65,000 pounds of thrust. So far, Boeing has 108 orders, 76 in the cargo version, with Cargolux as the launch customer. Lufthansa is the passenger version's launch customer with 20 firm orders. The second biggest customer (six airplanes) is Boeing Business Jets.