Boeing puts 747-8, its largest plane ever, in air

Posted Feb. 8, 2010 at 3:40 p.m.


Spectators gather to watch the new Boeing 747-8 freighter during taxi tests for the new airplane on Saturday. (AP Photo/, Joshua Trujillo)

Associated Press | Boeing Co.’s giant 747-8 freighter — the biggest plane the company has
ever built — took off on its first flight Monday, a year later than
originally planned.

The huge plane took off from Everett’s Paine Field after a weather
delay. It was to land later in the day at Seattle’s Boeing Field.

Hundreds of employees and other airplane fans gathered to watch the
plane take to the air. The flight came just one day short of the 41st
anniversary of the first flight of the original 747 model.

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At 250 feet long, the plane is about 18 feet longer than the existing 747-400 jumbo jet. The company conducted taxi tests on the freighter Saturday, with the aircraft performing well, Boeing said.

Boeing also is developing a passenger version of the plane. It lists 76 orders for the freighter and 32 for the 747-8 passenger jet, with the vast majority from international customers.

The company says the jets will be much quieter, more fuel efficient and have lower emissions than current 747-400 models.

Boeing launched the freighter program on Nov. 14, 2005, with firm orders for 10 planes from Cargolux of Luxembourg and eight from Nippon Cargo Airlines of Japan. The jet has a list price of more than $301 million, though airlines commonly negotiate discounts.

After completing the test program, the first freighter will be refitted and delivered to Cargolux.

The freighter version is to enter service late this year. The first delivery was to have been in late 2009 and the first passenger version in late 2010, but Boeing pushed back the dates due to design changes, limited engineering resources and an eight-week strike that shut down factories.

Boeing’s European rival Airbus had planned a freighter version of the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger jet. However, that program was put on hold in 2007 after FedEx Corp. and UPS Inc. canceled their orders, leaving Airbus with an empty order book for the cargo plane. The A380 airliner made its first flight in April 2005 and went into service in October 2007.

The 747-8 freighter and passenger jets are much smaller than the A380, which Boeing says is an advantage. It says its planes will cost less to operate and will be able to serve more markets.

The 747-8 passenger version will carry up to 467 people in three classes, with a range of just under 7,000 miles. Boeing says assembly of that plane is to begin around mid-2010, with the first delivery in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Boeing said in October that it was recording a $1 billion charge because of delays in producing the new freighter.

The company also is conducting the flight test program for its new 787 passenger jet, which made its first flight in December, more than two years behind schedule.



  1. inLaw Feb. 8, 2010 at 11:50 a.m.

    Title on Home Page incorrectly states “Boeing Nears 1st Flight of Largest Plane Ever”. The title does not imply largest “Boeing” plane. It implied largest plane PERIOD.
    Anyone who knows anything knows that the A380 is the bigger aircraft, which is.
    Makes one wonder if that was simply the press feed out of the mouth of Boeing?

  2. D Feb. 8, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Article title:
    “Boeing near 1st flight of 747-8, its largest plane ever”
    Its refers to Boeing…

  3. inLaw Feb. 8, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    I guess the Trib “corrected” the home page title after seeing my post.
    BTW I can read perfectly well, thanks.

  4. inLaw Feb. 8, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Now that the article is more complete, it might be worth noting that the only major book order for the passenger version was placed by Lufthansa, which is expecting deliveries of its first A380s this year.
    Many feel that this was a less costly route for Boeing to compete with the A380 for Cargo fleets many of which will be replacing their 747-400s, MD-11s and 767s in the next decade.
    If there is any irony to the 747-800 first coming on line in Cargo version, it is that was the initial marketing and design intent for the for the original 747-100 was as Cargo aircraft.

  5. A. M Berger Feb. 8, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Just remember that Airbus is supported by the members of the EU. I flew the original 747 and also some later models. Don’t care what Airbus says. Boeing is the best. Not a cheap aircraft that is supported in cost by the EU.

  6. Luis P. Lim Jr. Feb. 8, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Boeing is the best, that’s all.

  7. Hoagie Feb. 8, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    If its not a Boeing, I’m not going.

  8. George Feb. 8, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    The Boeing 747-8 is supposedly a little bit longer than the A380-800, but the Airbus is taller, longer and a lot heavier.
    But the Russian AN-225 dwarfs both of them… The AN-225, a cargo plane designed to ferry the Russian BURAN Space Ship, is presently the largest aircraft in the world… even larger than the US Air Force’s giant C5 cargo aircraft.

  9. in Feb. 8, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    I find it humorous that all Americans aspire to Mercedes Benz or Rolls Royce automobiles while those same Americans despise Airbus aircraft.
    We are referring to the very Airbuses made largely by British Aerospace, which co-developed the Concorde, and Daimler Aerospace, yep a subsidiary of Daimler-Benz which owns Mercedes Benz.
    Humorous given that a subsidiary of the Indian conglomerate Tata, maker of the ultra-cheap $2500 Nano car, makes the floor trusses for the Boeing 787.
    That French companies, Thales, Messier-Dowty and Latecoere, respectively make the flight displays, landing gear and doors for the 787. SAAB Aerospace makes emergency doors while Alenia-Italia SpA makes most of the tail assembly for all Boeing aircraft.
    Oh and Mitsubishi (Japan) makes the wingbox even for current 747-400 (they are shipped over the Pacific via a huge barge). And Kawasaki builds a significant portion of the forward fuselage.
    The launch engines for the 787? Rolls Royce’s (UK) Trent 900.
    Oh and Boeing doesn’t get local (State and Municipal) subsidies in the US?

  10. Guest Feb. 9, 2010 at 8:44 a.m.

    Boeing is the best, hands down. On a side note I can see the Boeing HQ in Chicago from my office window. Because of this proximity Boeing is the best.

  11. ttj Feb. 9, 2010 at 8:45 a.m.

    What’s truly humorous is that an article like this can work some simple-minded dude into a frenzy of nationalistic rivalry and pride.
    It’s a plane. Get over it.

  12. Paul Feb. 9, 2010 at 10:50 a.m.

    Hey in, I trust you do know that the Concorde was a passenger version copy of the North American Aviation XB-70, designed, built, and flown in the late 50’s and early 60’s?
    In general, I can remember when Airbus first announced the 380, saying they would sell something like 1000 in the first ten years. At that time Boeing had just completed the 1200th 747, after 30 years of production – without competiton.

  13. JimBob Feb. 9, 2010 at 10:53 a.m.

    ttj — “It’s a plane — get over it” ?? Very humnorous. Your total lack of understanding about any part of the aviation industry is noted by all. Most will just ignore you — I could not.
    To bring you up to speed in a few comments, let’s begin by confirming that Boeing is an American business and Airbus is a company started by Euro-governments to create employment and economic growth for THOSE countries. Aviation and software are two of the few genuine industries where we excel. I will not concede that position without a fight– to the death if necessary.
    The playing field is NOT level — only one is a capitalistically supported enterprise while the other is practically a government agency.
    I take it you are a democrat.

  14. SVL Feb. 9, 2010 at 11:06 a.m.

    Forget the big plane…I want to know more about the giant white 6 legged 2 tailed dog in the picture.

  15. Super Monkey Feb. 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    JimBob – Boeing is largely a U.S. government subsidized company through their huge multi-billion defense industry contracts – especially since the absorption of McDonnell Douglas. So to point a finger at Airbus as a government-subsidized company is a bit disingenuous.
    In fact Boeing’s biggest customer is the U.S. government.

  16. InLaw Feb. 9, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    The US excels at aviation, owing much of the development of modern aerospace to the English (Sir Frank Whittle, developer of the modern jet engine) and the countless German engineers and physicists brought to the US under orders of President Truman, at the end of WWII.
    In that respect we remain indebted to the socialist totalitarianism of the Soviet Union which forced our hand in securing those German scientists in an attempt to deny the Soviets military superiority.
    Whatever criticism anyone wishes to level at EADS for receiving loans (which they are required to pay back with interest) from the EU, Airbus pioneered the most popular long-haul aircraft of the late 1980s and beyond: the twin-engined long haul wide-bodied A300 series.
    Once McDonnell Douglas folded, due to their reliance on the less fuel efficient tri-engine wide-body layout, the air traveling public needed a viable competitor to, if anything, keep Boeing on its toes.
    Any claim of American complete superiority in the industry is simply hyperbole. The proof is on the foreign subcontractors which Europe and Asia which Boeing relies on to supply major components of the aircraft which it performs final assembly on.
    The Russians with Tupolev and Sukhoi Design Bureaus have created some the world’s finest military aircraft and are only now making efforts to penetrate foreign markets.
    The Chinese are also making advances preparing to launch their own designed passenger aircraft to compete with the head on A320/ B737 series by the end of the decade.
    Whatever “arguable” lead the US holds in the commercial aerospace industry will likely be eroded by the fact that the only significant growth in commercial aviation exists in Asia.
    If anyone has bothered to notice, the US and European passenger airline industry is simply not expanding. Airlines are consolidating and fleets are being reduced.

  17. RealityCheck Feb. 9, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    So sad to hear someone saying “Airbus may be subsidized by governments, but Boeing gets U.S. military contracts and that’s the same thing.” Bull!
    First, Airbus (or anyone else) is free to contract with the government for those jobs. If they can provide a superior product, they’ll get the work and the money.
    Second, working on a government project entails using materials, a factory and manpower, all of which need to be paid for.
    The subsidies that Airbus receives is just money handed to them without providing anything in return (i.e. a PRODUCT). Boeing works for the money they earn.
    There is a BIG difference between taking a handout and earning money.

  18. Rex Feb. 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Everything old is new again. The 8 has the three window upper deck like the 100 did, and has also gotten rid of the winglets.

  19. Mustafa Feb. 9, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    “The Russians with Tupolev and Sukhoi Design Bureaus have created some the world’s finest military aircraft and are only now making efforts to penetrate foreign markets.”
    Really InLaw? Why don’t you ask the Iranians who, being barred from being able to buy Boeing have to use the Tuplolev’s, have lost thousands of passenger’s lives in the past few decades
    It was very telling after the fall of the Soviet empire and the privatization of Aeroflot, the pilots who had the majority of the stake in the new venture refused to buy anything but Boeing.

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  26. Venapro June 17, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Is this plan actually being used regularly now? I remember the historic day when it took flight for the first time.