Now that the first A380 took off, real competition started in the huge plane segment of the market. While Airbus developed the supersize A380, Boeing was working in parallel on Dreamliner and some facelift on the good old Jumbo jet, the Boeing 747. The Boeing company has completed firm configuration of the new Jumbo – B747-8 Intercontinental. This milestone marks the completion of the major trade studies needed to finalize the airplane’s performance and interior features.
The 747-8 program, which includes the 747-8 Intercontinental and the 747-8 Freighter, was launched in November 2005 by Cargolux Airlines and Nippon Cargo Airlines. Lufthansa was the first airline to order the 747-8 Intercontinental in December 2006 and it is expected to be delivered in 2010.
“We have designed the 747-8 Intercontinental to be the ideal airplane for serving the 400- to 500-seat market between the 777 and the A380,” said Michael Teal, deputy chief project engineer for the 747 program. “The airplane will provide airlines significantly lower operating costs, as well as improved economics and environmental performance compared to the 747-400. It also will feature a new interior that will increase passenger appeal and create a strong and very favorable first impression.”
Many of the trade studies for the 747-8 Intercontinental focused on the airplane’s interior. The airplane will incorporate interior features from the 787 Dreamliner, including a new curved, upswept architecture that will give passengers a greater feeling of space and comfort, while adding more room for personal belongings. The enhanced interior architecture is accentuated by new lighting technology that creates a perception of airy brightness and provides smooth lighting transitions to offer a more restful environment.
The 747-8 also will integrate features from the 777, including windows that equal those on the 777 (15.3 inches/38.8 centimeters tall and 10.76 inches/27.3 centimeters wide), and are larger than those on the 747-400.
“The 747 family’s unique interior and structural design have provided passengers with memorable flying experiences for decades,” said Doug Ackerman, engineering interior team leader for the 747-8. “With the newly applied 787 features, passengers will know they are on a brand new airplane the moment they step on board, and enjoy a more relaxing flying experience.”
As for the airplane’s performance, the 747-8 Intercontinental will be stretched 5.6m (18.3ft) from the 747-400 to provide 467 seats in a three-class configuration and approximately 14,815-km (8,000-nmi) in range. It will provide nearly equivalent trip costs to those on the 747-400 and 10 percent lower seat-mile costs, plus 28 percent greater cargo volume. The 747-8 Intercontinental also will be 16 percent more fuel efficient and 30 percent quieter than its predecessor.
With firm configuration complete, Boeing and its suppliers can begin detailed design of parts, assemblies and other systems for the 747-8 Intercontinental. The detailed designs will then be released to Boeing suppliers and factories to begin production of the airplane.
The new Jumbo is also available as a Business Jet. Above you can see some interior pictures.