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Boeing Celebrates the 1,500th 747 – Is the Jumbo Jet Still Viable?

The 1500th Boeing 747 sitting on the flight line at Paine Field

The 1,500th Boeing 747 (70th 747-8) sitting on the flight line at Paine Field

The 747 Jumbo Jet is an iconic aircraft. For years, it was the only double-deck commercial airliner and for many it is a favorite. From its first flight in 1969, the 747 has changed quite a bit. The newest iteration, the 747-8, might sport a similar shape to the original 747 or the 747-400, but it is quite a different beast (more than just LED lighting). This past weekend, the 1,500th 747 was delivered to Lufthansa Airlines. About a week earlier, Boeing took the opportunity to talk about their largest commercial airliner and its future relevance.

LN1500 lining up for take off. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

LN1500 lining up for take off – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

I was invited to Boeing’s factory in Everett to sit down with Eric Lindblad, vice president and general manager of the 747 program, and we had a down-to-earth conversation about where the 747 has been, where it is today, and where Boeing is hoping it is going.

The big message that Lindblad wanted to get across is, “this is not your mother’s 747.” Not only is the 747-8I a very different aircraft than the 747-400, but the 70th 747-8 is much more efficient than the first one, and they plan to keep making it more efficient.

Continue reading Boeing Celebrates the 1,500th 747 – Is the Jumbo Jet Still Viable?

Inside the Factory: Photo Tour of Where Boeing 747s are Born

The money shot: 747 line inside the Boeing factory

The money shot: 747 line inside the Boeing factory

Back in the 1960s Boeing made a big gamble. They decided to build the world’s largest airliner, the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet. To build such a beast, they would need a large facility. After careful consideration, Boeing decided to build a large factory in Everett.

Since the first 747 rolled off the line in 1968, every other 747 has been built under the same roof. Even today, the 747-8 is built in the same factory.

In case you didn't know the aircraft type, there is a large sign on the wall.

In case you didn’t know the aircraft type, there is a large sign on the wall.

Although Boeing offers public tours of the facility, they do not allow cameras. I was lucky enough to participate in a media event and take photos of the 747 line in the factory and I wanted to be able to share. Enjoy…

Continue reading Inside the Factory: Photo Tour of Where Boeing 747s are Born

Does the Boeing 747 Have a Future?

The first Boeing 747-8I. But how long will the model last?

The first Boeing 747-8I. But how long will the model last?

There are few who can make a case against the Boeing 747 as the most majestic and beautiful airliner in the sky.  I love the 747 (any variant) for its unique shape and instant recognition; you just won’t find folks lining up to tell you about the classic lines of the A380.  Originally released in 1970, the Queen of the Skies has defined the term “jumbo jet” for multiple generations.  But, despite the 747’s 40+ years as a long-haul mainstay for airlines around the world, is the future of the 747 and its latest variant, the 747-8, in jeopardy?

The Fiero Problem

The issue doesn’t seem to be that the 747 has gotten stale in its old age (in fact, Boeing’s latest version features new engines, a redesigned wing, a fuselage stretch, and advanced avionics; some might argue that Boeing spent WAY too much capital on a plane with so few orders).  Rather, the problem seems to be that other planes have gotten so much better.  This reminds me of that 80’s darling, the Pontiac Fiero, and its cool uncle, the Chevrolet Corvette.

GM and Pontiac built the Fiero from 1984-1988.  A mid-engined, two-seater sports car with sharp (for the 80’s) looks, the Fiero did a lot of things well that the Corvette also was known for.  Although not officially acknowledged by GM as a reason for ending the program, enthusiasts maintain that GM killed the Fiero because it was encroaching on the performance envelope of the ‘Vette, at lower acquisition and operating costs.  Sound familiar?  If you’ve ever flown on a Boeing 777, it should.

Continue reading Does the Boeing 747 Have a Future?

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.

UPDATED: Photos of Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental in Full Lufthansa Livery

While catching a ride in a Boeing Stearman, Seattle Photographer and NYCAviation Chief Correspondent Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren got a nice shot of the first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental in full Lufthansa livery. Previously, we have seen another 747-8I in partial Lufthansa livery, missing her titles and logo. Interestingly, the registration number, D-ABYA, was used on Lufthansa’s very first Boeing 747-100 delivered on October 3, 1970. According to Lufthansa, the registration was created based on a specific pattern set for the airline. D represents Duetschland, A stands for an aircraft weighing over 20 tons, B is for Boeing, the Y stands for the aircraft type (V is the designation for the 747-400) and the final letter represents the actual aircraft and since this is the first to get a Lufthansa registry, it is A. According to the airline a name for the first 747-8 Intercontinental has not yet been decided.

Recently, the Boeing 747-8 Freighter won certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing is set to deliver the first 747-8F to Cargolux on September 19th and the second on the 21st. The 747-8I is still under going flight testing and the first is expected to be delivered to a private customer sometime later this year. Lufthansa is expected to take delivery of their first Intercontinental sometime in early 2012.

I am a fan of the simplistic Lufthansa livery, but if you are wondering what a retro scheme might look like on the 747-8 Intercontinental, someone has already done a mock up. I was able to find some additional photos of Lufthansa’s full-liveried 747-8I on Lufthansa’s website taken by Boeing. Click any for larger:

Lufthansa's Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental inside the Boeing Factory.

Lufthansa's Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental inside the Boeing Factory.

Lufthansa 747-8I paint hangar roll out

Lufthansa 747-8I paint hangar roll out

A full liveried 747-8I rolls out of the paint hangar overnight.

A full liveried 747-8I rolls out of the paint hangar overnight.

A Lufthansa Boeing 747-8I sits on the flight line at Paine Field.

A Lufthansa Boeing 747-8I sits on the flight line at Paine Field.

This post was updated with additional photos and information.