Yesterday, Boeing delivered their first 747-8 Intercontinental. Although we know that the customer is the government of Qatar, Boeing was tight-lipped about who the customer might be.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CHECK OUT MORE ON THE FIRST BOEING 747-8 INTERCONTINENTAL DELIVERY:
* 29 additional photos of the event
* Check out additional photos (from a different angle) by NYCAviation.com