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Snapshot: The Boeing 747-8

[Photo: JP Santiago]

In the photo above, B-LJK, one of Cathay Pacific Cargo’s fourteen Boeing 747-8F aircraft, heads out for departure at DFW. This particular -8F was delivered to Cathay Pacific on 18 December 2013.

Throughout the 1990s, Boeing studied stretched versions of the 747-400 and at the Farnborough Air Show in 1996 proposed the 747-500X and -600X which would have had a 777-based wing. Airline interest was lukewarm at best and the project was shelved. When Airbus revealed the A3XX program in 2000 (which later became the A380), the stretched 747 was resurrected as a more modest upgrade to the 747X and 747X Stretch, but airline interest was limited.

The 747-400ER and -400ERF incorporated some of the systems and ideas from the 747X work, but the -400ER and -400ERF were only produced in small numbers with QANTAS ordering the only passenger -400ER. Continued design work proceeded through the early 2000s on the 747-400QLR (Quiet Long Range) that made use of raked wingtips and noise reducing chevron engine nozzles.

In 2004 the QLR project was redesignated the ‘747 Advanced’ with the addition of 787-based systems. By 2005, Boeing launched the 747 Advanced as the 747-8 program with the passenger -8i Intercontinental and the -8F freighter. Interestingly, when Boeing introduced the long range Boeing 707-320B/C variants in the 1950s, they too were promoted as the “707 Intercontinental”.

Watch B-LJK arriving at AMS in 2016 below:

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2 Responses

  1. It took Boeing nine to eventually launch a highly modified and larger 747. Flightglobal called it the “nine-year wait.”

    Of course, it was telling that the freighter was the launch vehicle for the programme — the winds had shifted in the industry, and the 777-300ER had assumed duties at the upper end of the market, while the 787 moved in to the middle of the market. But the 747-8F is the ultimate expression of the 747 in its cargo guise; an aircraft capable of delivering ~140 tonnes of payload further than anything else in the skies, faster and more efficiently – it’ll take 100 tonnes twice as far as the Antonov An-124, about 1,000 km further than the giant An-225.

  2. This latest variant is flying on the passenger airlines as the Intercontinental, as a freighter and as a Boeing Business Jet for high-meet individuals and heads of state. As a platform, the 747’s varied roles places it a class of its own.

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