The First Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental gets some fresh air at Paine Field.

The First Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental gets some fresh air at Paine Field. Click for a MUCH larger version. Photo by/from Boeing.

We are now less than two weeks, away from the official roll out of the first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. On the Sunday the 31st this photo was taken by Boeing as the plane was being moved over to the paint hangar. In less than two short weeks on February 13th at about 11am, the aircraft will officially be unveiled to the world at a special ceremony at the Boeing factory.

The lucky folks who attended Aviation Geekfest 2010 were able to get a glimpse of the first 747-8I in person and I have to say she is one very beautiful bird. You better believe I will be there to see her debut on the 13th — it is a special valentines day gift for us airline geeks.

For those of you able to come hang out at Paine Field on the 13th, I invite you to come early, check out the Future of Flight and Boeing factory tour for a possible glimpse of the aircraft before it is unveiled to the world.

Still no word on who the owner of this amazing plane will be. I am told it is a private buyer and I know that all eight Boeing Business Jet orders for the 747-8 are for governments. If anyone is able to track down the owner, that would be awesome to share either via comments or always confidential via email (da***@ai*************.com)

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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The Queen of the Skies is getting a “facelift” and becoming even more regal (if that’s even possible!). Incredible much? Cannot wait for her unveiling…

Paij Rutschman

Contratulations to those at Boeing Commercial Airplane, Spirit Aerosystems, and all teams who were part of making this outstanding line of aircraft possible. Great Job!

She’s simply beautiful!

Pago Flyer

Has any airline ordered this plane?

Lufthansa ordered 20 and Korean ordered 5 no other passenger versions have been ordered.

Now Concorde that was a truly beautiful aircraft, a mammoth hit with those who could afford to fly her but not a great commercial success, Boeing is desperate for new sales and with such a dismal order book it looks as if this new 747 varient will have a similar production run as Concorde with about the same degree of commercial viability.

I don’t know. Many of the 747-400’s will start being pulled out of service. Some will be replaced with smaller aircraft, like the B777-300ER, but I have a feeling other will be replaced with the 747-8I.


Don’t under estimate the 747-8I. I predict it WILL be a commercial success and the orders will come once Boeing begins to demonstrate its abilities and low operating cost. There is still a significant market for a long range jumbo for airlines/routes/airports where the A380 is simply too large. Mark my words! Furthermore, the 747 is arguably the most successful commercial aircraft ever, so why should the new 747-8 be anything less? (The Concorde, by the way, was not a commercial success due to its high operating costs which translated to high ticket prices which few could afford.)

The market left open by the 747 will be filled with B777 / B787 / A330 / A350 aircraft’s. Unfortunately the 747 has reached the end of it’s time and no significant orders will be made other than a few more cargo aircraft’s. Just look at the MD11. Same outlook.

I am willing to bet against that zd :).

There is still a large gap between the 777, A330, A350 and the A380. The 747-8I fills that gap nicely.


When I toured the factory in August, the guide pointed out the cockpit section on the factory floor and said it was going to be part of the first 747-8 built, and that it was going to Lufthansa… but they could have been wrong, I guess. Didn’t see any other 747-8Is in the factory for sure.

This 747-8 is a VIP aircraft and it looks it will be delivered in the third or fourth quarter of 2011. The first one for an airline might be pushed back to 2012. Would not be surprised if there will be some cancellations or conversions to freighters.

The 747-8 is unfortunately going the same route as the B707/727/757 went. With only 25 pax, 8 vip and about 78 cargo versions ordered it is not even in the close range of a ROI. Over two years delayed and recent cancellations it does not look well. Only two airlines have chosen this aircraft for passenger service. These aircraft’s will sooner than later be converted to cargo aircraft’s since no one wants to fly at his time and age an aircraft that is not used by more airlines. Maintenance and spare parts is one of the big issues. LH (20)and KL () the only users for the pax version might be looking very fast to trade these aircraft’s in to get more A380’s.

The 747 was an excellent aircraft and will always be remembered. It is now time for the new generations like the A380 / A350 / B777 / B787 to be the shining birds in the sky!

Absolute beauty of an airplane. I’ll look forward to flying Lufty’s.

The 747 can operate from many more points than the A380 ever will. It also has a lower operating cost and is familiar with mechanics, flight and ground crews alike. The 747 will prevail in the long run, the A380 has a limited market and even more limited market in a cargo role. They got to work out the “bugs” in the A380 with engines and electrical problems, whereas the 747 is redundant and reliable and proven. Yes it will be the last 747, but the A380 is also the last A380.
The Concorde was doomed by restrictions of over land flights and sonic booms which began as the airplane was being developed. The price of oil going up did not help it eiether.

Thanks for this high resolution RC001 picture.

Regarding your question about the owner of the first VIP 747-8I, RC001, the following thoughts :
Seen the present situation in the arabic world (Tunesia, Egypt), it seems a bad moment to reveal the owner’s identity. At the earliest : next year we will learn ( very low key) the destination of that aircraft.

I am hoping whomever takes ownership (or whatever government it is), they like attention and will let people know who they are and maybe a blogger or two on board to see their sweet ride :).


That is one big momma!!!!!

David Thompson

How many American Airlines operate the A-380? Answer – None. So how is it then that so many cynics and experts here about know anything about this large plane market? I am in Sydney Australia and every morning at least 4 A-380s come in low over my house. Singapore, Emirates and Qantas. That has been the case since 2008. They are ALL FULL aircraft too. Ask where these flights started and the answer is a long way away – Usually London or LA. None of this point to point stuff here. These are hub to hub flights. Qantas only went to the A-380 because Boeing were too slow to build the 747-8i. They may yet take up. The fact is the A-380 is too small in planform for its wing and engines. I note that Richard Branson has echoed this saying he wants a stretched A-380 to improve economics. If anything is going to kill the 747-8i its the GE engine only; no option. Qantas are a Rolls Royce user like BA, going right back to the Avon powered 707s. Qantas once had 44, 747s and BA 48. Good one GE!

Well, RR and the A380 aren’t really making the best combination right now. Giving options is good, but I would imagine the deal with only providing GE engines will keep costs lower.


The Future of Filght & Boeing Tour will not be open to the public on February 13th until 2PM so if you plan to visit us, please come on February 12, or after 2PM on the 13th!

the 747-8i is the queen of the skies when is ti going to fly

David Thompson

Just like to reply to David Parker Brown on the Engine bit with the Qantas A-308. I know this made news but like other things in the world today the aero engine market is vastly different from the one of even twenty years ago. Rolls Royce are the premier engine maker today not GE. What has happened in the aero engine market is similar to what has been happening in aviation generally since the 1990s. The USA once had 85% of the market to itself. You don’t need me to mention Lockheed and the Constellation or the Electra or the Douglas DC series Ect. Then there is the same paradigm at work in the engine market. GE were a supercharger manufacturer and only got into jet engines via the UK & Frank Whittle’s designs during the war. Someone told me the company was making more money re-lending Chinese money five years ago before the 2007/08 crisis as GE Money.
Rolls Royce have come back since privatization because the design of their 3 core stages is better engineering. Pratt & Whitney have lost market share and combined with GE. Whatever happened to Curtis Wright? This is all bad for US industry I’m afraid. Just pray the Chinese don’t get into this industry too quickly

Hugo Mak

Is the premiere of the 747-8I open to the general public?

Its a nice aircraft, but as always with aviation projects these days, late. Two years earlier and Boeing wouldn’t be playing second fiddle to Airbus in this sector, it would be reversed: the A380 was even later! Designed originally to be a freighter, having outlasted the plane that won that competition – the Galaxy – it is now like the “truck” of the skies. Its a better and more natural frieghter than the A380, and I wonder what the value of a second hand A380 will be in a few years on the freighter market? I can’t see the orders for PAX picking up. If you have a route you want to exploit, why not the smaller, more efficent and more adaptable Dreamliner or 777? Fewer seats means low availability, and hence higher seat pricing. If you want more capacity, go A380, which has lower carbon emissions. For Lufthansa, this plane may make sence, as the need for large capacity on a route is often defined by the German holiday industry, which is high volume/short window all year round. Airframe flexibility and costs of training are terms that the low-cost airlines have brought to the fore in the aviation industry, so unless you can afford to leverage in 20+ airframes to your fleet, you just don’t order

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