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.
From December 6th to the 9th, one of Boeing 747-8 Intercontinentals, RC021, was flown to Frankfurt Germany, so that Lufthansa could complete pre-delivery testing at the Frankfurt Airport. Three Lufthansa and two Boeing pilots made the nine hour journey from Seattle to Frankfurt. The aircraft will be the fifth 747-8I that Lufthansa will take delivery of and the first delivery is expected sometime in “early 2012.”
Luckily, Lufthansa took quite a few photos of the Intercontinental’s visit and it is time to share:
HI-RES IMAGE (click for larger). Lufthansa's 5th Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, RC021, in front of their Technik Repair facility in Frankfurt. Photo by Lufthansa.
HI-RES IMAGE (click for larger). Lufthansa's 5th Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, RC021, inside the Technik Maintenance facility in Frankfurt. Photo by Lufthansa.
HI-RES PHOTO (click for larger). The Boeing 747-8I rocks the GEnx-2B67 engine. Photo by Lufthansa.
HI-RES IMAGE (click for larger). The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental has one sexy backside. Photo by Lufthansa.
HI-RES IMAGE (click for larger). Nose shot of the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental in Frankfurt. Photo by Lufthansa.
HI-RES IMAGE (click for larger). Lufthansa's Technik facility in Frankfurt is HUGE and has a way of making large aircraft look small. Photo by Lufthansa.
HI-RES IMAGE (click for larger). The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental on the tarmac in Frankfurt. Photo by Lufthansa.
According to a press release issued by Cargolux, a decision was not reached during the board meeting. “Discussions over these issues will continue over the weekend. The Company will provide an update as soon as an agreement has been reached.”
As of today, there is still no date for when Cargolux will receive their first 747-8F.
At this point, Boeing is not sure if there will be a delivery celebration or a quiet departure; they are waiting to hear what Cargolux desires. “We continue to speak with Cargolux and look forward to delivering its airplanes,” Boeing spokesperson Doug Alder Jr, explained to AirlineReporter.com.
Boeing was set to deliver their first 747-8F to Cargolux on September 19th, but at the last minute, the Luxembourg-based cargo company put the deal on hold and the delivery was postponed. Both Boeing and Cargolux kept quiet and rumors started about the reasoning behind this odd business maneuver. According to Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker, who has a 35% stake in Cargolux, the issues stem from the 747-8F being 2.7% less fuel efficient than advertised. Al Baker stated that the issues causing the airline to back out of accepting delivery are related to GE, who built the engines on the 747-8F, and not Boeing. At this point, Cargolux is expected to take ownership of their first 747-8F on October 12th, pending the airlines board approving during their meeting on October 7th.
During a Boeing 777 delivery event for Qatar Airways, Al Baker was asked about Cargolux and their handling of the situation. “Unfortunately, the management of Cargolux did not take the action they should have taken during the process of the aircraft acceptance,” Al-Baker stated according to Bloomberg. “As we sit on the board of Cargolux, we have full right to object if we find something is not fair as far as Cargolux is concerned.”
One of the loudest rumors about this deal was that Qatar Airways was holding Cargolux’s 747-8F hostage for a better compensation deal on their 787 Dreamliners. However, Al Baker clearly stated that the Cargolux 747-8F delay has nothing to do with compensation for the 787 Dreamliner. “The issue really with this aircraft has nothing to do with Boeing. It has to do with an issue that we had with the engine manufacturer,” Al Baker said according to the Seattle PI. “This issue has been resolved” subject to board approval.
GE has already announced that they are working on a Performance Improvement Package (PIP) for the the GEnx-2B engine found on the 747-8. The package is not slated to be ready until mid-2013.
Even with all the issues that Qatar and Cargolux have recently had with Boeing, according to ArabianBusiness.com, Al-Baker described his relationship with Boeing as strong, “despite a few hiccups along the way.” At this point, it is not certain what the delivery celebration will entail and Boeing is waiting until after the October 7th board meeting to announce any plans.
The new Boeing 747-8F is one majestic aircraft. Along with all the majesticness (yes I just made that a word) comes a lot of weight. The 747-8F can take off weighing nearly one million pounds and for the flight tests, Boeing needs to make sure the aircraft can successfully complete an aborted take off, fully loaded.
The Ultimate Rejected Takeoff (yes that is official terminology) is not made easy. First they loaded up the aircraft to about 975,000 pounds. Then they made sure the brakes were as worn as possible — not something that would happen during normal maintenance.
Once the aircraft got above 200mph, the Boeing test pilot, Captain Kirk Vining, slammed on the brakes. During a normal aborted take off, the pilot would also use thrust reversers, but not for this test. All that energy (and it is a lot) went directly to the brakes.
The 747-8F was able to stop about 700 feet sooner than Boeing was expecting. However, stopping is just half the battle. As you can see in the video, once the aircraft is stopped, the brakes were glowing red. Even though a fire crew was on the scene, they let the brakes sit for five minutes to see how the 747-8F would react.
This video shows a worst case scenario. Even if you have experienced a rejected take off as a passenger, it most likely wasn’t this violent. This just goes to show that aircraft can handle a lot and are extremely safe.