Boeing's new jumbo makes ‘perfect' maiden flight

PTI Seattle (Washington) | Updated on March 21, 2011 Published on March 21, 2011

US aerospace giant Boeing's newest and biggest jumbo jet, the 747-8 Intercontinental, made its maiden flight, watched closely by aviation fans and European rival Airbus.

The new version of the classic double-decker 747 took off into nearly cloudless skies yesterday at 9:58 am (local time) from the Paine Field airport near Boeing's Seattle headquarters, watched by thousands of workers and guests.

The red, white and orange-liveried aircraft landed just over four hours later having been taken through its paces over Washington state, on the northwest Pacific coast.

“It just went perfectly,” said chief test pilot Mr Mark Feuerstein after the flight, adding that, while it still faces months of test flights before being certified, “the airplane is actually ready to go fly right now.”

Boeing's largest passenger plane, the 747-8 can carry 467 passengers in a three-class configuration and is designed for long-haul routes — with a range of 8,000 nautical miles (14,815 km) it can fly direct from New York to Hong Kong, Los Angeles to Mumbai or London to Singapore.

The plane is a longer and more fuel-efficient update of Boeing's double-decker 747 jumbo jet, and will compete with European rival Airbus's A380, the world's biggest passenger plane.

Among those watching the maiden flight was Mr Joe Sutter, the chief engineer of the original 747.

In a tribute to Mr Sutter — celebrating his 90th birthday on Monday — the initials “JFS” were painted on the landing gear bay door of the first 747-8 Intercontinental.

“It makes me feel real good. The fellas are telling me I'm part of the team,” he said.

The double-deck A380 entered service in 2007, and can carry 525 passengers in the same configuration.

Boeing insists the 747-8 is not a rival to the A380, but complementary to it — noting that both Lufthansa and Korean Air have ordered both.

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Published on March 21, 2011
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