Lufthansa's Boeing 747-8I taxiing next to the Future of Flight. Photo by Chris Sloan / Airchive.com.
“We are excited and thrilled to welcome the 747-8 Intercontinental to our fleet,” said Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa German Airlines. “Our passengers will love the new interior, which includes our all-new full-flat business-class cabin.”
Lufthansa 747-8I (D-ABYA) takes off from Paine Field. Click for larger. Image from Boeing.
Lufthansa’s 747-8I will begin its first revenue flight on June 1st from Frankfurt to Washington, DC. The airline has 20 of the Intercontinentals on order and are expecting to take delivery of five more by the end of the year.
Officially, the aircraft was delivered by Boeing on April 25th. Between the official delivery date and fly-off earlier today, the airline conducted airline-specific preparations before heading to Frankfurt, where it will be greeted with another celebration.
The First Class section in the nose of the Boeing 747-8I for Lufthansa. Click for larger. Photo by Boeing.
“We are very proud and pleased that Lufthansa is the airline launch customer for the 747-8 Intercontinental,” said Boeing’s Pat Shanahan, senior vice president, Airplane Programs, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Lufthansa has been a trusted partner for many years and has contributed greatly to making the 747 a truly beloved airplane around the world. We are excited for Lufthansa’s passengers to experience the incredible new Intercontinental — it is truly a Queen of the Skies for the 21st Century.”
Lufthansa's new Business Class seat on the Boeing 747-8I. Click for larger. Photo from Lufthansa.
Lufthansa will operate the 747-8I with a configuration of 362 seats (8 First Class, 92 Business Class and 262 Economy Class). The aircraft also debuted Lufthansa’s new Business Class product, which is in a “V” arrangement, where the seats fold flat.
Other than the registration number and information from reliable sources, there has been no official confirmation from either Boeing or the government of Qatar. Boeing stated that they are following the wishes of their customer and not publicly confirming or denying if it is the government of Qatar.
Boeing Executives answer questions about the Boeing 747-8I program before take off.
Before the delivery flight, Boeing held a press conference to answer questions about the 747-8 program. Present were Bruce Dickinson, VP and Chief Project Engineer, 747-8 Program, Elizabeth Lund, Vice President, 747 Program, Captain Steve Taylor, President of Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) and Jim Proulx, Boeing 747 Communications.
When asked if the Intercontinental might participate in a world tour, like the 787 Dreamliner, Lund explained that they are in discussion about the possibly and would prefer to work with an airline customer, like Lufthansa.
How would you like a bed in the nose of a Boeing 747-8I? Photo showing potential 747-8I BBJ interior from Boeing.
Currently there are nine 747-8 VIPs on order and Taylor stated that it is safe to say that all of them are going to government customers.
One government customer who does not have a 747-8I on order yet is the President of the United States. Lund stated that Boeing has spoken to the president and assured him that Boeing is more than ready to build the next Air Force One.
You have to love the extended upper deck of the 747-8 Intercontinental.
The first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental that will go into commercial service with Lufthansa is still going through its final testing phase, which should be completed in the next week. Since the passenger version has things like seats, in-flight entertainment and more, it needs the additional time before being ready for delivery.
Lund stated that Boeing is working to get an official delivery date for the aircraft to Lufthansa and they hope to announce that date in the next few weeks. Previously, they have stated that they hope to deliver the first passenger Intercontinental in March of this year.
This is a mock up of a possible interior of a Boeing Business Jet 747-8I. The one delivered yesterday was empty. Photo by Boeing.
Near the end of the press conference, BBJ President Steven Taylor had to politely leave, since not only does he oversee the BBJ program, but he is also a pilot, that is rated to fly the 747-8I and he was going to be flying during the delivery flight. How cool is that?
After the press conference, it was time to head to the Future of Flight’s strato deck to wait for the the 747-8I to take off. Luckily it was not raining, but it was windy and very cold. Unfortunately, the aircraft was late taking off, so by the time she taxied out and lined up, my hands were having a hard time taking photos due to frozen fingers.
It was disappointing that we were not able to tour the interior of the aircraft and it was also not parked next to the Future of Flight where we could get better photos from the tarmac. But it is still not a bad thing to gather with aviation media to watch the first 747-8I to be delivered.
And lift off. The Boeing 747-8I heads off to Vancouver.
At about 1:01pm, the 747-8I lifted off from Paine Field, with cheers from the Boeing and media folks that gathered to watch.
First, the 747-8I flew to Vancouver for a few hours to complete customs paperwork before heading to Wichita, Kansas to begin its two year interior installation. There, the Aeroloft, which is a sleeping berth in the rear of the aircraft, will be installed before heading to Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg, Germany for the rest of the interior installation.
Once completed in 2014, the aircraft will be able to carry 100 passengers in style, up to 8,840 nautical miles.