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First deliveries this year

For 37 years, Boeing's 747 "Jumbo Jet" was the largest commercial passenger aircraft in the world. The iconic aircraft was the bread and butter for the company, but sales have dropped as airlines have looked to the much more advanced and fuel efficient Airbus A380.

The Airbus A380 has not been without its problems though, some of which forced a delay in the development of the much awaited A380 freighter variant. Half of the world's air freight is carried on freighter versions of the 747, so Boeing saw a huge market opportunity.

The design of the previous generation, the 747-400, goes back to 1985. The new 747-800 series is much more advanced, and uses four of General Electric's GEnx-2B engines using technology developed for the 787 Dreamliner. The new aircraft will be larger and quieter, as well as more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly.

Lower operating costs are the main reason why many current 747 operators are looking to purchase new planes. There are currently 76 orders for the 747-8F freighter model and 32 orders for the 747-8I Intercontinental passenger model.

Boeing completed the first test flight of a 747-8F yesterday from Paine Field in Everett, Washington. There are more than 1,600 flight hours in the test program scheduled.

"It was a real privilege to be at the controls of this great airplane on its first flight, representing the thousands of folks who made today possible," said 747 Chief Pilot Mark Feuerstein. "The airplane performed as expected and handled just like a 747-400."

A 747-8I could fly in the future as Air Force One, especially since Airbus has decided not to put in a bid. The current fleet uses two highly modified 747-200B aircraft delivered in 1990. They are scheduled to be replaced by 2017.

First deliveries of the 747-800 series are expected to begin by the end of this year.

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By PrezWeezy on 2/9/2010 2:18:34 PM , Rating: 2
...but sales have dropped as airlines have looked to the much more advanced and fuel efficient Airbus A380.

From what I heard the A380 was doing horribly because it couldn't land at most airports. I think they had a grand total of 12 orders for the A380. I don't think many airlines are buying the A380 over the 747, I think there just aren't many people buying Jumbo Jets at the moment.

RE: Really?
By Amiga500 on 2/9/2010 2:25:35 PM , Rating: 2
You heard very wrong then...

The order book is currently 165...

RE: Really?
By nafhan on 2/9/2010 2:52:17 PM , Rating: 2
Wiki's* got it as 202 ordered including 25 already delivered. Interestingly, none of those are the freight model. Boeing on the other hand has most of their orders going into the freight model. Break even (where they actually start making money on the A380) will be somewhere about 420 units for Airbus.
*The A380 article is pretty well sourced for a wikipedia article.

RE: Really?
By Amiga500 on 2/9/2010 3:03:14 PM , Rating: 2
Ahh, ok, I just grabbed the first number I came across, I didn't know they'd broke the 200 barrier. The A380 has been well f**ked up by airbus, and as you say, it'll be ages before they make their money on it.

The 747 is a better freighter option, as I explained in another post somewhere about here.

RE: Really?
By nafhan on 2/9/2010 4:57:57 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, the A380 launch has been a bit of a mess.
I think the freight thing is mostly because other 747 variants carry a majority of the world's air freight. So, staying with the 747 allows for huge maintenance and training savings over switching to a completely different aircraft.

RE: Really?
By PrezWeezy on 2/9/2010 8:05:57 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, as I looked at the Wiki article it showed that there had been a very small number of the Freight model which is what I had been thinking of. I didn't realize they had broken them into two different models.

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