Boeing's New 747 Flies
Boeing flew its newest airplane for the first time on Sunday but casual observers would be excused from noticing the importance of the event. The 747-8 Intercontinental lifted off smoothly from Everett, Washington's Paine Field for a four-hour and 26-minute flight that ended at Boeing Field in Seattle. Test pilot Capt. Paul Stemer summarized the first flight of the familiar airframe by noting that "any 747-400 crew could have gone and flown this airplane." Nevertheless, the airplane does put some additional pressure on Airbus as Boeing's "new" 747 takes direct aim at the "when is this going to end?" segment of the airliner market with a range of 8,000 nm with a full load of 467 passengers.
Of course, it's all about efficiency in the airline market and the 747-8I's GEnx-2B67 engines squeeze every mile out of the 333,000-pound fuel load. Boeing has also borrowed heavily from the 787 for cockpit and creature comforts so it's not quite a standard 747. Boeing says the transition won't be a big one for those used to the upstairs cockpit. The company is predicting a three-day training transition for those with 747 type ratings.