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Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental  (Source: Boeing)
Aircraft is the longest commercial airliner in the world

Boeing is one of the largest companies in the aviation world. Not only does the company have a vast military portfolio, but it also has an enormous presence in the civilian aviation market with some of the most popular passenger aircraft in the world. Boeing has celebrated the official premiere of the latest civilian aircraft called the 747-8 Intercontinental.

The aircraft is the passenger version of a cargo aircraft that Boeing has been working on for the past few years – the cargo plane and its passenger version are both behind schedule. The first flight for the 747-800 was conducted in February of 2010, almost exactly a year ago.

Boeing unveiled the new 747-8 Intercontinental officially at an event with about 10,000 guests including current and potential customers. Boeing is aiming the plane at the 400-500 seat market and claims that the new aircraft has unrivaled efficiency and performance.

Boeing's CEO Jim Albaugh said, "The new 747-8 Intercontinental features the latest in innovative technologies — applying many of the breakthroughs also found on the 787 Dreamliner. We think our customers will value the low operating costs and passengers will enjoy the comfort of the striking new interior."

So far the 747-8 has 33 orders on the books with 20 of the planes ordered for Lufthansa alone; Korean Air Lines is on the hook for five of the aircraft reports Bloomberg. Each of the aircraft sells for $317.5 million and will carry about 467 passengers in a three-class configuration.

Boeing thinks that the new 747-8 Intercontinental is sized well to put pressure on the larger Airbus A380 that seats about 525 passengers. Boeing's Elizabeth Lund said, "With an A380, you run the risk of not filling every seat whenever you fly. It’s, we think, really the right size most of the time in most markets."

Boeing notes that the 747-8 provides operators with 12% lower costs to operate than its predecessor the 747-400. The 747-8 gets 16% better fuel economy, has 16% less carbon emissions per passenger, and has a 30% smaller noise footprint. The aircraft also uses some interior features from the 787 Dreamliner with curved and upswept interior architecture that gives passengers the feeling of more space and adds more room for personal items.

USA Today notes that the aircraft was lengthened by 18.3-feet, making the 747-8 the longest jetliner in the world. The hump that is familiar on Boeing's 747 has been lengthened a well to cover double deck seating inside and is 13.3-feet longer than before.

The overall wingspan of the massive airliner is 224-feet and it is propelled by GEnx-2B67 engines built by GE. These engines use about 30% fewer parts than other jet engines to reduce maintenance and the chance of failure. The cruise speed for the 747-8 is Mach 0.86 or about 570 mph.

"As the only airplane in the 400 to 500-seat market, the 747-8 Intercontinental will give operators an airplane perfectly suited for long, heavily traveled routes around the world," said Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager, Airplane Programs, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "The new 747-8 Intercontinental will set a new standard in economic and environmental performance, while providing a world-class passenger experience."

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Front window?
By RjBass on 2/14/2011 10:57:59 AM , Rating: 2
I always thought it would be cool if they could put a front facing window in these big planes with a little high class lounge to hang out in. I doubt it is even possible, but it would really be cool.

RE: Front window?
By stburke on 2/14/2011 11:07:29 AM , Rating: 2
It would be nice but the nose cone is where the radar array goes, and I think thats fairly important. Plus bird strikes.

RE: Front window?
By RjBass on 2/14/2011 11:18:02 AM , Rating: 4
Ahhh yes radar. Guess we need that. And I don't know, but a good ol bloddy bird strike might liven those bored passengers up a bit if they see it in action.

RE: Front window?
By therealnickdanger on 2/14/11, Rating: 0
RE: Front window?
By Solandri on 2/14/2011 1:06:09 PM , Rating: 4
Actually, cranes, swans, geese, and vultures have been spotted at 30k+ feet. There was a youtube video someone shot from a commercial flight at cruise altitude of a flock of cranes flying in the distance, but I can't find it. So you'll have to be satisfied with these:

The configuration of birds' lungs is more like a tube, instead of a balloon like ours. When we exhale, a significant fraction of the air in our lungs remains. In contrast, a bird cycles nearly 100% fresh air into its lungs with each breath. Consequently, they're able to extract enough oxygen to function at altitudes where we'd pass out and die.

RE: Front window?
By Chaser on 2/14/11, Rating: -1
RE: Front window?
By Iketh on 2/15/2011 10:23:54 AM , Rating: 2
RE: Front window?
By YashBudini on 2/14/2011 10:34:24 PM , Rating: 2
I've always loved the 747,

And it's speed.

RE: Front window?
By Etern205 on 2/14/2011 5:47:52 PM , Rating: 2
If there is a front window, the bird will always have time to yell out a "honk" before crashing into the window and no matter what, passengers will always have time to yell out sh*t. :P

RE: Front window?
By Chudilo on 2/14/2011 11:29:43 AM , Rating: 1
The bullet proof glass in fighter jets/bombers is among the strongest parts of the plane. It can be done, but it will make the nose considerably heavier. You won't see airlines go for this, as the boose is free on long international flights. Meaning the lounge wouldn't make them any additional money and might give some passengers more reasons to get plastered and cause trouble during a flight.
They could however sell extreme super-platinum seats with a front view, that however may only be tolerable for people into extreme sports. so it's essentially a small gimmick for very small financial gain.

RE: Front window?
By Solandri on 2/14/2011 1:10:07 PM , Rating: 3
With modern technology, you don't really need a window in the front. Just stick a camera there and feed the image into the screens in the cabin. A few airlines were doing this back in the 1980s, but the idea never really caught on. Maybe the idea of passengers in a crashing plane seeing the ground or another plane coming at them was a bit too much?

RE: Front window?
By gregpet on 2/14/2011 5:03:17 PM , Rating: 2
Wife & I flew on a a A380 to Australia. The A380 has a forward looking camera up on the tail (viewable through screen on back of seat). It was pretty interesting for about 5 minutes. There's not much worth looking at at 35,000 ft. The resolution of the camera was surprisingly poor as well (and this plane was brand new - Qantas inaugural flight from LA to Sydney).

RE: Front window?
By Zoomer on 2/14/2011 10:32:31 PM , Rating: 1
Pretty much everytime I've flown on the past decade has this. Excepting american flag carriers and crappy old commuters, of course.

RE: Front window?
By quiksilvr on 2/15/2011 9:18:49 AM , Rating: 2
Trust me, you'll want a window. There are just some things your eyes can catch better than a camera during a storm. What if it's snowing and the camera's eye is blocked? You would be seriously screwed.

RE: Front window?
By Jeffk464 on 2/14/2011 1:28:17 PM , Rating: 2
Thats what I was thinking, I have heard of large birds punching right through the the wings leading edge skin on a c130.

RE: Front window?
By mcnabney on 2/14/11, Rating: -1
RE: Front window?
By Boboshisho on 2/14/2011 12:07:21 PM , Rating: 2
All large jets have radar, but it is a weather radar and it is always in the nose of the aircraft.

RE: Front window?
By Aerosmithe on 2/14/2011 12:08:35 PM , Rating: 2
Um, commercial jets do too have radar. At the very least they have weather radar, and some can have actual tracking radar as well. I used to work at an executive jet completion center, that put custom interiors in large commercial planes for heads of state, and know for a fact that at least some of them had tracking radar.

RE: Front window?
By Iaiken on 2/14/2011 12:17:11 PM , Rating: 3
Civilian aircraft do not have radar.


So I guess these guys have wasted their lives setting up testing facilities for civilian aircraft radomes.

Thanks for clearing that up.

RE: Front window?
By PhilM on 2/14/2011 1:01:11 PM , Rating: 2
The FAA requires weather radar on all transport aircraft certified after December 31, 1964 -- see

RE: Front window?
By plowak on 2/14/2011 7:33:40 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah, right, and they don't have wings either.

RE: Front window?
By seamonkey79 on 2/15/2011 3:31:33 PM , Rating: 2
Some of them come with engines, though.

Not sure how the attach them...

RE: Front window?
By Azethoth on 2/14/2011 9:21:00 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Front window?
By mars2k on 2/14/2011 12:20:39 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah cool and when the plane goes down in a firey crash you have a front row seat, SSSSSSPPPPPPLLLLLLAAAATTTTTTTTT :-)

RE: Front window?
By Jeffk464 on 2/14/2011 1:33:39 PM , Rating: 2
That plane looks so damn big hovering over the crowd in the picture, its hard to believe the A380 is even bigger. Honestly I think the main thing that will determine the success of this versus the A380 is operating cost per passenger. Whichever one is lower will be the winner in the long run. Its sad to see the 747 loosing out but it has been very successful for a very long time.

RE: Front window?
By Amiga500 on 2/14/2011 2:30:10 PM , Rating: 2
A380 is significantly cheaper to operate on a seat-mile basis (which is the equivalent of a per passenger cost).

The 747-8 is a bit of a dead duck unfortunately.

RE: Front window?
By gamerk2 on 2/14/2011 3:26:16 PM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind, the A380 seats more, and every seat that goes unfilled = lost money. As such, smaller planes are more economical, as you fill a higher percentage of seats, which favors the smaller 747-8.

RE: Front window?
By Amiga500 on 2/14/11, Rating: -1
RE: Front window?
By Jedi2155 on 2/14/2011 4:47:37 PM , Rating: 1
Sounds like someone is working for Airbus.

RE: Front window?
By Amiga500 on 2/14/2011 5:30:17 PM , Rating: 1

Someone has (and is) working for a few different aerospace companies at once.

Airbus is not one of them... at the minute anyway.

But hey, don't believe me - do you think the A380 is really 20% worse per trip than the 747-400 which is about 15 years older? (Even accounting for the size difference)

Or even more crazy, only a few percent better per seat mile than the -400?!? That ludicrous claim from Boeing in itself is enough to dismiss the rest without secondary evidence to back it up.

RE: Front window?
By RedemptionAD on 2/14/2011 5:36:25 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think you read very well. They were comparing it to their old model, not the airbus. Tripmile meaning fuel cost per trip due to efficiency gains and being a larger plane and seating more people. The only comparison to the airbus they made was having a less likelihood of not having a full plane.

RE: Front window?
By YashBudini on 2/14/2011 10:32:32 PM , Rating: 1
You fit your aircraft to your routes, thinking otherwise is just silly.

You've never seen 2 airlines share 1 plane for a trans Atlantic flight?

RE: Front window?
By Zoomer on 2/14/2011 10:37:32 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but heavily travelled routes like these connecting SIN, HKG, NRT, TPE - there is a demand for multiple flights a day. This is as people, particularly these on business, prefer to have a choice on when to leave/depart. Can these routes support 4x or 6x A380s a day, on one airline?

RE: Front window?
By gstrickler on 2/15/2011 3:24:29 PM , Rating: 3
In summary... the 747-8 has equivalent trip mile costs to the 747-400... So the A380 has 21% worse trip costs than the 747-400?
Read it again, "trip costs", not "trip mile costs". More passengers and more cargo for the same total cost = lower cost per "seat mile" and lower costs per "package mile" than the 747-400. Boeing's claim is that the A380 being larger and heavier has 21% higher trip costs than the 747-400 or 747-8, and 6% higher cost per "seat mile".
Do Boeing think everyone that reads this stuff is a f**king idiot? I know the A380 has over 25% better seat-mile costs than the -400.
From where do you get your 25% number? Got a reference, or are we just supposed to take your word for it?

Comparing the A380 to the current 747-400ER, the A380 has 8% longer range (7670nmi vs 8300nmi), 34% higher fuel capacity, identical cruise speed, and only 26% more seats (3-class) on A380. Discounting the 8% longer range, it has ~25% more fuel to transport 26% more passengers a comparable distance at the same speed. Given that, your claim of 25% higher fuel economy is not plausible. The 747-8i improves all of those stats vs the 747-400ER and A380. Absent any evidence of your claim, I'm going with Boeing's numbers.

The other issues are weight and wingspan. Compared to the 747-8i, the A380 has a 325,000 lb higher maximum take-off weight, 178,000 lb higher maximum landing weight, and 140,000 lb higher empty weight. Those all put higher stress on runways and bridges making them unsuitable for some airports. The A380 has a 37ft wider wingspan, again restricting it from some airport gates. (stats available on Wikipedia and the manufacture sites).

Finally, the 747-8 shares many parts with other 747s and some with the 787, making it less costly to maintain for airlines already flying those planes.

RE: Front window?
By tng on 2/15/2011 7:47:07 PM , Rating: 2
Do you expect an airline is gonna stick an A380 on a daily route with demand for only 50 people? You fit your aircraft to your routes, thinking otherwise is just silly. A full A380 generates far greater returns than a full 747-8.
Any airline will choose a plane for a route based on the number of passengers, hence while a 380 will suffice when there is the need, sometimes a slightly smaller plane would be more profitable. You can't have those great returns on a 380 if you don't have the passengers to fill it.

I know the A380 has over 25% better seat-mile costs than the -400. The golden number in the industry is 20% better than the old competitor, otherwise you don't build a new airframe. Boeing are insulting the intelligence of the public with press releases like that.

I think that that is Boeing's point, they want to fill that niche in between the 747-400 and the 380. Good plan since there is far less R&D involved in basically stretching the existing airframe and upgrading engines, avionics and borrowing ideas from the 787. They don't have to reach that magic 20% to stick it to the premier Airbus model.

RE: Front window?
By StinkyWhizzleTeeth on 2/14/2011 11:37:46 PM , Rating: 3
The A380 requires larger taxi areas because of the width of its wings. Not sure how many airports have been upgraded to allow these jets. So Boeing has that going for them on the 747-8.

RE: Front window?
By Amiga500 on 2/14/2011 2:31:48 PM , Rating: 2
It would impose too much restrictions on your pressure vessel design. It would probably add over 500 kg in weight to the nose.

A no go, but a nice idea all right.

RE: Front window?
By ipay on 2/14/2011 3:04:59 PM , Rating: 2
On the first-gen 747's, some of the airlines used the upper-deck as a lounge/bar. Back in the 70's.

Here's a picture showing the radome open for maintenance; visible are the weather radar and glideslope antennas:

RE: Front window?
By mlmiller1 on 2/14/2011 9:52:48 PM , Rating: 2
They could call it Ten-Forward!

RE: Front window?
By ketchup79 on 2/15/2011 3:20:28 PM , Rating: 2
I believe they already have. Remember 10-Forward?

RE: Front window?
By ketchup79 on 2/15/2011 3:21:26 PM , Rating: 2
beat me to it!

Gunning for the A380...
By stburke on 2/14/2011 11:05:29 AM , Rating: 2
Both future 747-8i operators (Korean Air and Lufthansa) also have orders for the A380. This plane seems to more or less complement existing fleets more so than anything. A large international airline operating a 747 may deem the A380 on order too big for some routes but still needs similar range and cargo capabilities.

That being said, this airplane is iconic and a great offering but at higher fuel burn, smaller range and capacity compared to the A380, I don't think there's going to be too many orders for this queen of the sky.

RE: Gunning for the A380...
By Jeffk464 on 2/14/2011 1:43:46 PM , Rating: 2
If what you are saying is correct about airlines wanting a smaller sized plane for some routes. It almost seems like they should have stayed with the 747-400 and fit it with the new improved GE engines. Its like the closer in size it gets to the A380 the more compelling it becomes just to buy the A380.

RE: Gunning for the A380...
By Solandri on 2/14/2011 2:25:00 PM , Rating: 5
The point isn't to make a plane which can burn the least fuel with the greatest range and greatest capacity. The point is to build a plane which best suits the market for a route for the least cost. If the market for a daily flight between two locations is only about 420 people instead of 500, then the 747-8 makes more financial sense than the A380 for that route. Yes the fuel cost per passenger on the 747-8 is higher than the A380 if the planes are fully loaded. But if there are only 420 people consistently on the flight, then the fuel cost per passenger on the A380 is higher. In terms of passengers per flight, the various planes break down like this:

525 - A380
467 - 747
300-400 - A340
300-365 - 777
270-350 - A350 (expected 2014)
250-295 - A330
210-290 - 787 (expected this year)
125-220 - A320 / 737

What the manufacturers are trying to do is offer planes to cover as wide a variety of capacities as possible. You can see the 747 owns the 400-460 market, while the A380 owns the 460-525 market. Unfortunately for Airbus, the 777 has been beating the A340 into a bloody pulp in the market (a shame too - I think it's Airbus' most beautiful plane). Just like the A330 cleaned the clock of the 767, spurring Boeing to drop it and design the 787.

Airbus has only gotten orders for about 240 A380s, while the break-even point for the costs to design the plane is at about 420 orders. It will probably hit 420 eventually, but after so many years that the ROI is so crappy that they could've made more profit just depositing the money in a savings account. So it's questionable if the 450+ passenger market is even big enough to warrant there being a plane there. In contrast, the 747-8 is using an already-paid-for airframe design, while adding technology being paid for by the 787. So Boeing doesn't have to sell a lot of these to recoup their development costs.

If you look at all of the above and the number of sales (the 777 is at nearly 1200 orders and selling more every year, vs. the A340 at 375 with the last 4 years being its worst), Airbus has a huge hole in the 300-450 range. Boeing is simply refreshing the 747 to strengthen the upper range of that hole, to make it harder for Airbus to field a competitor there. It looks like Airbus erred and should've designed a replacement for the A340 to compete with the 777 (at the high end) and 747 (at the low end), rather than the A380. Right now they're trying to position the A350 to compete with both the 777 and 787, which is a rather tall order.

RE: Gunning for the A380...
By Jeffk464 on 2/14/2011 5:39:22 PM , Rating: 3
A shame that Boeing is kicking airbus's butt with the 777, NO that is most definitely not a shame.

RE: Gunning for the A380...
By Amiga500 on 2/14/2011 5:42:01 PM , Rating: 2
The A340 is a piece of crap.

No one would seriously considering buying one instead of a 777-300/-300ER.

The A350 is slightly larger than the 787, and has presenting Boeing with a bit of a headache with regards the 777. There is talk of rewinging, or re-design... airlines obviously pushing for a redesign, Boeing a bit more cagey.

I would expect the poor orders for the 747-8 are a result of the A350-1000. You say Airbus has a hole at 300-450, well the A350-800 has @300 PAX in a 2-class config, and the A350-1000 has about about 400 PAX capacity in a 2-class config.

RE: Gunning for the A380...
By Zoomer on 2/14/2011 10:42:09 PM , Rating: 2
The real reason is that the A34x planes, being 4 engined, are huge gas guzzlers. With jet fuel over $100/b and poised to rise, it's not hard to see why they are unpopular now.

The A340-500 is a nice plane; I've been on it multiple times. (However airline specific interiors obviously count for a lot more) It's the fastest way to traverse certain routes.

RE: Gunning for the A380...
By tng on 2/15/2011 7:56:47 PM , Rating: 2
The real reason is that the A34x planes, being 4 engined.....
It is not just that, since the 777 has only two engines there is less maintenance involved as well. The 340 is cheaper though, so there are allot of things that go into a purchase decision.

I will point to Air France buying the 777 over the 340 when the 340 is assembled in France.

Seating Arrangement...
By FaaR on 2/14/2011 2:03:48 PM , Rating: 2
Each of the aircraft sells for $317.5 million and will carry about 467 passengers in a three-class configuration.

Those classes will be named "Business Class", "Cramped" and "Sardine".

RE: Seating Arrangement...
By FITCamaro on 2/14/2011 2:31:10 PM , Rating: 3
Forgot Peasant class. Lets see who remembers what late 80s/early-90s sitcom that's from.

RE: Seating Arrangement...
By Azethoth on 2/14/2011 9:30:25 PM , Rating: 2
Do not forget Cattle Class. Mooooo!

RE: Seating Arrangement...
By YashBudini on 2/14/2011 9:59:12 PM , Rating: 2
Ah yes, nothing like the smells of home when flying in the deep south.

</my not pc humor>

About that 380...
By superPC on 2/14/2011 10:55:55 AM , Rating: 4
say what you want about the capability of A380 but for me boeing 747 is iconic. it's almost as iconic as concorde. that bulge is damn sexy and it's the only one in the world with that kind of bulge!

good to see that boeing doesn't let the 747 fade into oblivion.

RE: About that 380...
By chaos386 on 2/14/2011 11:58:06 AM , Rating: 4
that bulge is damn sexy and it's the only one in the world with that kind of bulge!

Actually, it sounds like there are two of you with a bulge...

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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