Monday - Aug 21, 2017

A sneak preview of Boeing’s new 747-8 intercontinental airliner

A sneak preview of Boeing's new 747-8 intercontinental airliner

Boeing have been talking about their wide bodied version of their 747 Jumbo jet for more than five years now, and in early February went as far as providing a preview of what the plane will look and feel like when it goes into service in its passenger carrying version towards the end of this year.

With its fuselage considerably lengthened, making it the longest airplane in the World, and its wings totally redesigned to increase fuel efficiency, the Boeing 747-8 has earned the distinction of being the largest commercial aircraft ever constructed in the United States.

Before the passenger version of the 747-8 hits the skies, there will already be a number of freighter aircraft in operation, as the first versions of this super jumbo will already have been in operation by mid-summer of 2011. Despite being plagued by a number of setbacks, Boeing are currently processing orders for 74 freighter versions of the 747-8, and 33 passenger versions.

With a lot of eyes on energy consumption and environmentally friendly efficiency, Boeing based their design philosophy for the 747-8 on their design standard 787 Dreamliner, which the company is the most fuel-efficient airliner in their stable, mostly due to the break through decision to use composite materials in the larger part of its construction.

Boeing’s 747-8 will face some strong competition for the long distance carrier’s business from Airbus’s A380, which has been flying commercially for more than three years now, and has earned very positive reviews for its spaciousness and comfort. The airlines who have already placed orders for the 747-8 will for sure have been attracted by some of the professional statistics that Boeing have provided such as that the 747-8 is more than ten percent lighter than the Airbus per passenger carried and proportionately more fuel efficient. Some of these energy costs saving will be passed on to the customer, nut it is yet to be seen how the Boeing airliner competes with the Airbus in terms of comfort, something that will sometimes take precedence for the inter-continental traveler over cost savings.

One thing that could be learned from Boeing’s recent preview is that when the first passengers do set foot on the new 747-8, they will be able to see that Boeing has made some fairly considerable changes to the interior layout of the aircraft compared to the original Jumbo, which is reasonable to expect, considering that the Jumbo first took to the skies 37 years ago. The first impression that passengers will get when they embark is sure to be that the main passenger entrance, a notable cause of bottlenecks on the Jumbo, is considerably more spacious. The famous curved stairway to the upper deck is still there if not also a little wider.

Boeing have taken the lead from the 787 mid range airliner when it came to designing cabin lay-out on the 747-8, with dramatically curving overhead bins. Window designs on the 747-8 are very similar to that on Boeing’s 777, making them almost 10% larger than the Jumbo’s. The 747-8 will feature a new LED lighting system has been installed throughout the 747-8, which provides all the light a passenger could need as well as considering reducing energy and maintenance costs.

A feature that Boeing intend to introduce when the 747-8 takes off, is the possibly of a “SkyLoft” passenger facility in the second floor crown space, including luxury suites for the high powered business or high profile passenger. The suites will come with either sliding doors or curtains, and will include de-luxe seating that will convert to full sized beds, top quality entertainment facilities and the latest in cutting edge technology business equipment. Initial reactions among the long distance carriers has been that SkyLoft may be regarded as a bit of a luxury during these austere times, and the chances are that the concept may be “mothballed”, at least for the time being.

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