I recently received an invite to head to Germany for about 24 hours before turning around and taking the first passenger flightÂ on-boardÂ the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. How could I refuse?
I will be leaving Seattle (SEA) on aÂ LufthansaÂ Airbus A330 non-stop to Frankfurt (FRA) before grabbing a seat on the inaugural flight from Frankfurt to Washington DC (IAD) on flight LH416.Â You better believe I will be sharing this experience as much as I can. Follow onÂ TwitterÂ and of courseÂ on the blog.
If you have the means (and an open calendar), I just checked this morning and there are still a few tickets left to make the inaugural flight yourself. You also have the chance to win two tickets on a future 747-8I flight on Lufthansa via their Intercontinental mini-site. Be careful though. That mini-site will make you easily burn some time with the 3D 747-8I tour, videos and more.
Lufthansa's Boeing 747-8I taxiing next to the Future of Flight. Photo by Chris Sloan / Airchive.com.
â€œWe are excited and thrilled to welcome the 747-8 Intercontinental to our fleet,”Â 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.â€
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 Boeingâ€™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.
Portland Airport (via the Port of Portland), Emirates Boeing 777 and Lufthansa Boeing 747-8I (via Jeremy Dwyer-Lindren)
This last week and a half has been super busy already for me and it is only going to get a bit crazier (in a good way) for the next week.
I am off to Portland to give a talk on tourism and technology at the GWTTRA Conference. Very excited to share the concept that technology has really improved the experience and I think ushered a new Golden Age of flight. If you have any ideas on tourism, travel, airlines and technology, please share them in the comments and I might be able to add it to my presentation.
Then heading all the way around the world with Emirates on their new non-stop flight from Seattle to Dubai. I am excited to check out Emirates service on their Boeing 777-200LR, as well as seeing what Dubai has to offer.
I will be keeping up on Twitter and Facebook on my aviation themed adventures as always, so please join along.
While on the road, I will be making use of guest blogs and hopefully be able to remotely cover the delivery of Lufthansa’s first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, which is rumored to be delivered around the 24th of this month (nothing official has been announced from Lufthansa or Boeing).
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,Â 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.
The first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental (A7-HHE) sits next to ANA's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner (JA801A) in September 2011 at Paine Field. Photo by Jon Ostrower.
Tomorrow, the very first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental will be delivered to its owner, but who is it? There have been many rumors and guesses about the plane’s owner, but nothing has officially been announced. Boeing is not talking and even though the delivery event is scheduled for tomorrow morning, there is no plan to announce the owner tomorrow and that the owner will not be present during the event. We know that the 747-8I is a Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) and most rumors have speculated that the aircraft is going to a head of some government.
I have gathered enough information and feel confident in announcing that the owner of the first 747-8 Intercontinental will be Qatar Amiri Flight, which is a VIP airline owned by the government of Qatar. According to Wikipedia, they operate, “worldwide charters on demand and caters exclusively to the royal family of Qatar and other VIP government staff.” Qatar Amiri Flight currently has two 747-8I’s on order.
The delivery event is set to start at about 11:00am PST tomorrow, the 28th and I am told the aircraft should depart by Noon. Make sure to follow me on Twitter and the hashtag #7478VIP as is covered live.