The 747-8 will be the Air Force One replacement to carry around the U.S. President – Image: Jon Ostrower
The United States Air Force (USAF) announced the long-awaited decision of what aircraft will serve as the replacement for the presidential transport, known as Air Force One (when the President is on-board). The choice has taken longer than most expected and the answer seemed quite obvious.
The USAF announced that the Boeing 747-8 will be the sole choice as the base aircraft for replacement of the current aircraft, the VC-25A (a modified 747-200).
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
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.
From the video description from SpeedBirdHD: “The Boeing 747 is a wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transport aircraft, often referred to by its original nickname, Jumbo Jet, or Queen of the Skies. It is among the world’s most recognizable aircraft and was the first wide-body ever produced. Manufactured by Boeing’s Commercial Airplane unit in the United States, the original version of the 747 was two and a half times the size of the Boeing 707, one of the common large commercial aircraft of the 1960s. First flown commercially in 1970, the 747 held the passenger capacity record for 37 years.”
I am guessing probably most people reading this site are well aware of the 747. So less reading, more watching these amazing machines in action .
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.