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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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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.

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