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Air China Takes Delivery of its First 747-8 Intercontinental

Air China's first

Air China’s first 747-8 completing its first flight – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Air China has taken delivery of their first 747-89L, making them the second operator of the 747-8 Intercontinental after Lufthansa.

Air China will operate the 747-8 on training flights from Beijing to Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport. The aircraft’s first international destination will be Frankfurt, with New York and Los Angeles both slated to gain service as more aircraft arrive.

Air China’s 747-8 is configured in four classes with 12 first class seats, 54 business class, 66 premium economy, and 233 economy seats. Economy class will offer between 32 and 33 inches of seat pitch, whilst Premium Economy will offer 38″.  The aircraft will also feature onboard wifi.

The whole cabin was designed by famed Chinese designer Han Meilin. But it was odd that we didn’t get more information about the interior.

Continue reading Air China Takes Delivery of its First 747-8 Intercontinental

Design Your Very Own Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental Livery

The sky is the limit when designing your own 747-8I. Design by Toby Rao, Image from Boeing.

The sky is the limit when designing your own 747-8I. Design by Toby Rao, Image from Boeing.

When going to buy a Boeing 747-8 Intercontiental, one of the most difficult decisions is choosing the outside design. Well, have no fear, help is here (and also a huge time waster). Boeing now offers AvGeeks the ability to design your own 7478I livery.

Even when you get bored making your own liveries, be sure to check out the few hundred that have already been made. Some are actually really good and others are, well… have opportunity for improvement (any of the ones we tried surely have TONS of room for improvement, so we are not ones to judge).

Interestingly enough, if you look at the first design in the gallery, it is an Air China 747-8I. The airline has five on order, which none have been delivered quite yet. Maybe this provides a nice preview for the airline?

Previously, users were also able to design their own Boeing 787 Dreamliner livery, but it looks like that page has been replaced with making the Intercontinetal. Good luck and have fun! If you can, be sure to share your results.

Lufthansa Brings the 747-8 Intercontinental to LAX

Lufthansa is now flying the Boeing 747-8I to LAX from Frankfurt. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

Lufthansa is now flying the Boeing 747-8I to LAX from Frankfurt. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

This week Lufthansa Airlines (LH) upgraded its Frankfurt (FRA) to Los Angeles (LAX) route by swapping it from the 747-400 to the 747-8 Intercontinental. Los Angeles becomes the second US Destination to be served by the aircraft, fourth overall and first destination on the west coast. Lufthansa is currently the only 747-8I operator in the world

“The selection of Los Angeles for our new flagship aircraft demonstrates the market’s critical importance for Lufthansa, which has had a presence in Southern California since 1960,” said Juergen Siebenrock, Vice President, The Americas for Lufthansa. “The FRA-LAX route connects the world’s two largest and most influential consumer markets for entertainment products- Hollywood and Germany. LAX is also an active gateway for pharmaceutical, IT, automotive industry and defense contractor industries, all of which are important customer segments for Lufthansa.”

BONUS: AirlineReporter.com takes the inaugural Boeing 747-8I flight

When I arrived at LAX, you could tell that there was excitement in the air. At the LH ticket counter there was a gigantic sunrise colored Boeing 747-8I model. Standing next to the model were some people from Boeing. They joked and gave me a hard time about my LH A380 tag on my bag from the A380 launch last year at San Francisco — oh well.

After I received my badge I was allowed to proceed to TSA where, even though we weren’t flying, they still wanted to put everyone through the body scanner. I politely opted out where I was able to enjoy a nice pat-down.

Lufthansa's Boeing 747-8I at LAX. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-8I (D-ABYA) at LAX. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

At Gate 123, where the event took place, Lufthansa put on an amazing spread for everyone to snack on, from roast beef to smoked salmon, pretzels and little cookie airplanes that said Lufthansa 747-800. During the celebration, we received word that the aircraft was running a little late due to snow in Frankfurt, but nothing could wipe off the smile off my face.

As soon as stepping outside, we all looked up and noticed that the 748 was on downwind to land and at around 13:10 PST she touched down in LAX for the first time. Applause broke out from all of the VIP’s on hand while other members of the media clicked away as D-ABYA, named “Brandenburg,” threw her reverse thrusters on and came quickly to a halt. As she taxied to the gate, the LAX fire department completed a water canon salute and after parking at the gate, we headed back inside to listen to some of the invited guests speak.

BONUS: Video of Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-8I coming into LAX via SpeedBirdHD

After the speeches, it was time to board the plane. My heart raced with excitement as this was only the second 747 that I have ever stepped foot on. Once on board we were told we had about 7 to 10 minutes before they had to prepare the aircraft for its departure. It was a little bit of a mad rush to get through the airplane, I sadly missed the first class cabin, but managed to get upstairs which was one of my goals. Sadly the flight deck door was closed, so I wasn’t able to see the all new advancements.

The Lufthansa 747-400 is a regular at LAX. This one has a bigger upper and lower deck. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

The Lufthansa 747-400 is a regular at LAX. This one has a bigger upper and lower deck. Photo by Brandon Farris / AirlineReporter.com.

The 747-8I adds an extra 18 seats for the daily flight that will help increase capacity by 17% overall. First class is configured 1-1 with the exception of the last row that is 1-2-1, business class is 2-2-2 and coach is 3-4-3. The new product on the LH 747-8I is the business class lie flat seat; there are 92 of these on board the -8.

“We integrated our customers very closely into the development of our new Business Class so we would be able to offer a product that was totally in line with their wishes and requirements,” said Jens Bischof, member of the Lufthansa German Airlines Board.

The aircraft generates a 30% smaller noise footprint that the 747-400 and brings double digit improvements in fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions per passenger. This makes it one of the industry’s most fuel-efficient aircraft and key to Lufthansa’s commitments to sustainable reduction of carbon emissions. The 747-8I fuselage is 253ft 2in long which is 18ft 4in longer than the 747-400. This allows LH to carry 26% more cargo volume.

The aircraft also features an all new state-of-the-art wing for the 747 with improved aerodynamics and raked wing tips: all new fuel efficient General Electric GEnx-2B engines that contribute to a reduction in fuel burn, emissions and noise and thus giving customers the lowest operating costs and best economics of any large passenger airplane: and fly-by-wire technology.

It was hard getting off the plane, but I hope to be back on one soon enough.

This story written by…Brandon Farris, Correspondent. Brandon is an avid aviation geek based in Seattle. He got started in Photography and Reporting back in 2010. He loves to travel where ever he has to to cover the story and try to get the best darn shot possible.

@BrandonsBlog | RightStuffPhotography | Flickr

Flying on the Inaugural Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental Flight With Lufthansa

Lufthansa's first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental is one beautiful aircraft. Here she is seen after her first flight in DC.

Lufthansa's first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental is one beautiful aircraft. Here she is seen after her first flight in DC.

It has been a long road from the conception of the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental to the first passenger flight on June 1, 2012. Being based in Seattle, I have had the privilege of watching Lufthansa Airlines first 747-8I go from a few parts to a revenue-making machine. I felt beyond lucky when I was invited by Lufthansa to take part on their inaugural flight from Frankfurt Airport (FRA) to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).

It was a whirlwind trip; leaving Seattle on a non-stop flight to Frankfurt, arriving at 8am local time and about 24 hours later, leaving on the 747-8I (I will write a future story on my 24 hours in Frankfurt). Fifty-eight hours and 12,000 miles after I left, I was back home in Seattle — well worth the adventure.

A look at Lufthansa's First Class on board the Boeing 747-8I.

A look at Lufthansa's First Class on board the Boeing 747-8I.

There has been plenty of prep work by Lufthansa to train their crews on the new aircraft type. Currently, the airline has ten pilots qualified to fly the 747-8I, but soon they will have many more. Pilots trained on the 747-400 only need a three-day training course and a flight on the new plane to be qualified. Since Lufthansa just recently acquired the 747-8I, it hasn’t had many opportunities to allow pilots to fly it, but that will now change.

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the delivery ceremony, so I was excited to get on board my first Intercontinental. During my 24 hour blitz in Frankfurt, there was a special unveiling event allowing me to preview the new 747 and to get access to First Class.

Lufthansa Airline's new Business Class product, which has debuted on the 747-8I.

Lufthansa Airline's new Business Class product, which has debuted on the 747-8I.

For the average passenger, he/she might not notice that the 747-8I is something new. From the outside, one might notice the raked wingtips versus the winglets of the 747-400 or the larger upper deck, but it most likely will take the trained eye of an avgeek to see the difference. Inside, there are features, like LED lighting, improved overhead bins, and a feeling of space, that have become familiar on the 787 Dreamliner and 737 with new Boeing Sky Interior.

Not only is the 747-8I a new aircraft for Lufthansa, but it also debuts the airline’s new Business Class. I had seen photos previously, but photos do not do it justice. The new product is much more spacious, cleaner and just plain (or should it be “plane”) better in person.

The new Business Class looks classy and has all the bells and whistles that high end fliers have come to expect.

The new Business Class looks classy and has all the bells and whistles that high end fliers have come to expect.

The new business seats are unique to Lufthansa and will not be found on any other airline. They are in a V-shape 2-2-2 layout with each seat having the feet angled towards each other. I wasn’t quite sure how it would work out and worried that I might have ended up playing footsies with my seat-mate. Luckily, that was not a problem.

The pair of seats in the middle of the aircraft  have an advantage over those by the windows — they have more room. With these biz seats, passengers might actually prefer the center seats, although I felt my seat had more than plenty of space.

Lufthansa has its Boeing 747-400 configured with 344 seats and its Airbus A380 with 526 seats — both in a 3-class layout. The new Intercontinental is configured with 362 seats with eight in First Class, located in the nose of the aircraft, 92 Business Class seats, with 32 on the upper deck and the remainder on the main deck, and 262 in Economy class, all found on the main deck.

Lufthansa will continue operating the 747 on more premium routes, since they have a higher percentage of premium seats versus the A380.

Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz says a few words before we depart. FYI: "Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental" in German sounds amazing.

Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz says a few words before we depart. FYI: "Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental" in German sounds amazing.

Before departure, there was a ceremony at the gate’s Business/First Class lounge with executives of both Lufthansa and Boeing present. After a glass of champagne and some applause, it was time to board the sparkling 747-8 Intercontinental.

Even though I was on the same plane a day earlier, the energy is entirely different when you are just checking out the interior, versus when you are able ready to take flight. “Epic” and “giddy” would probably be appropriate words to describe it.

Time to load up. Lufthansa has gate lounges where folks in premium cabins can board directly from the lounge. Keep it classy people!

Time to load up. Lufthansa has gate lounges where folks in premium cabins can board directly from the lounge. Keep it classy people!

I had seat 10K — a window seat in Business Class, located on the main deck. I quickly got settled in and was ready to start on an historical journey.

This inaugural flight was unique since there were only 75 invited guests and media and the rest were paying passengers. Most airlines won’t have “normal” passengers on inaugural flights, so it was great seeing all the people (some who had no idea) enjoying the experience.

And we have lift off!

And we have lift off!

How was the flight? Amazing, unforgettable, awesome (insert your positive adjective here). The Intercontinental is not only a beautiful aircraft, but one that flies very well. During take-off, it was music to the ears hearing the four GEnx engines spool up. The large aircraft used a good chunk of the runway before lifting off and once airborne, the aircraft was quiet and allowed you to easily talk to the person next to you.

I was seated right in front of the right wing, which provided great views. I could easily witness the wings flex up, similar to the 787, but not quiet as dramatic. I was actually happy when we hit a pocket of turbulence, because I was able to watch the engines and wings do their dance.

It might take some training of the flight attendants to reassure worried passengers that the wings are supposed to do that.

The upper deck of Lufthansa's Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental.

The upper deck of Lufthansa's Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental.

Moving a few times from the main deck to the upper deck, I  noticed that up top was a bit louder due to wind noise. It is not enough that a passenger would choose the main deck, but enough that it could be observed.

I know many of you are wondering; how does the Airbus A380 compare to the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental? Well, it is not an easy comparison to make. I haven’t flown on an A380 in a while and without back-to-back flights, it is hard to award an overall winner.

In a beauty contest, hands down, the 747-8 takes the crown. The A380 is a cool looking machine that functions well, but it doesn’t have the grace (nor history) that the 747 has. In the noise department, I think the A380 probably wins out.

The A380 and 747-8I are both great aircraft with their own benefits, but have different missions. Really, with how Lufthansa configures their aircraft, the Airbus A340-600 probably competes more directly with the new Intercontinental than the A380 does.

Down we go! it might not be the spiral stair case of the historical 747's, but it does the job.

Down we go! it might not be the spiral stair case of the historical 747's, but it does the job.

During the flight, I had ample opportunity to put the new Business Class to the test. It is a huge improvement over the old product — which isn’t too shabby, but it is starting to show its age.

Each person is given plenty of room, a larger screen and a lie-flat seat. There are additional nooks to store things, an easier to use in-flight entertainment system and one of my favorite things that probably will go unnoticed:  the ability to put down your arm rest to have more room sitting or sleeping.

The in-flight entertainment system will be familiar to frequent Lufthansa flyers, but it is much crisper and quicker. There are additional viewing choices, but I would still like to see more. I am able to forgive the lack of choice, since the IFE offers a camera view looking forward and down from the front of the aircraft.

The center arm rest holds your head phones, remote, tray table, but you have to make sure your arm doesn't hit those buttons.

The center arm rest holds your head phones, remote, tray table, but you have to make sure your arm doesn't hit those buttons.

For me, the biggest drawback with the new Lufthansa Business Class is the placement of the seat controls. They have been moved from the remote to a prominent location on the front of the arm rest. On more than one occasion my arm would accidentally hit one of the buttons and my seat would start to unexpectedly move. Asking others who also made the flight, they didn’t seem to have the same issue, so maybe it was just me (and my muscular arms getting in the way — okay probably not).

I was planning on staying awake the entire flight to absorb the entire experience, but after a few celebatory cocktails and my lack of sleep kicking in, I crashed for about one and a half hours. Since the sleep caught me off guard, I did not put the seat in the lie-flat position, but I rested comfortably without waking up in the half-way position. I have to say that the new pillow and blanket are a positive improvement and it is sometimes the little things that count the most.

It is rare to get two water canon salutes, but FRA gave us one leaving and this is IAD's one to us when we arrived.

It is rare to get two water cannon salutes, but FRA gave us one leaving and this is IAD's one to us when we arrived.

When we started our descent, I wasn’t ready for the flight to end. The touch down was smooth and our welcome was warm. We had a water cannon salute at the gate and a group of media, guests and employees taking photos from the tarmac. We were escorted through customs and brought to an arrival party at the main terminal. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay long, since I had to be off on my flight back to Seattle.

This 747-8I inaugural flight was much more than just a flight. It represents all the hard work (and patience) of all the people who worked so diligently to make it possible. I know that it sounds cliche, but I think this aircraft has been well worth the wait.

Lufthansa is planning on taking delivery of four more Intercontinentals before the end of the year and Boeing has stated on the flight there are other airlines (even ones in the US) that are showing interest in the 747-8.

The photo doesn't do a great job showing the wing curve -- you will just have to go see it for yourself.

The photo doesn't do a great job showing the wing curve -- you will just have to go see it for yourself.

I am happy to celebrate the new Queen of the Skies initiation into revenue service. It starts with only one flight and one airline, but it won’t be long before millions are hopefully able to enjoy the benefits of the historical and new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental.

SEE ALL 51 PHOTOS FROM THE LUFTHANSA BOEING 747-8 INTERCONTINENTAL INAUGURAL FLIGHT

Learn, Read, See More on the Flight:
* Photos on AirChive.com
* Video, photos and story on Jaunted.com
* Story on Wi-Fi on Lufthansa’s 747-8I via APEX blog
* Shots of us landing at IAD from @RacingWinds

Heading to Germany with Lufthansa for the Inaugural Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental Flight

I recently received an invite to head to Germany for about 24 hours before turning around and taking the first passenger flight on-board the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. How could I refuse?

I will be leaving Seattle (SEA) on a Lufthansa Airbus A330 non-stop to Frankfurt (FRA) before grabbing a seat on the inaugural flight from Frankfurt to Washington DC (IAD) on flight LH416. You better believe I will be sharing this experience as much as I can. Follow on Twitter and of course on the blog.

This is exciting for a number of different reasons. One of which is I have already taken a ride on one of Lufthansa’s Airbus A380s and I look forward to comparing that experience to the Intercontinental flight. It won’t be that easy, since the 747-8I is debuting Lufthansa’s new business class product, where the A380 I flew had their older product.

If you have the means (and an open calendar), I just checked this morning and there are still a few tickets left to make the inaugural flight yourself. You also have the chance to win two tickets on a future 747-8I flight on Lufthansa via their Intercontinental mini-site. Be careful though. That mini-site will make you easily burn some time with the 3D 747-8I tour, videos and more.