Boeing Co. (BA) said the first 747-8 Intercontinental, the passenger version of the planemaker’s biggest jumbo jet, needs only five to seven days of test flying toward certification for commercial duties.
Once paperwork is completed, the plane will be delivered to Germany’s Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA) in the “very near future,” Elizabeth Lund, the 747 program manager, said today at a ceremony in Everett, Washington, where the plane is built. The 747-8 Freighter entered service late last year.
Boeing delivered the first 747-8 Intercontinental today to an unidentified private customer. That jet will undergo more than two years of work on the interior before it’s used. The commercial version needed more testing because it’s full of seats and in-flight entertainment equipment, Lund said.
The company has sold nine 747-8 Intercontinentals to such “VIP customers” and plans to deliver the bulk of those this year, said Steve Taylor, president of Boeing Business Jets. They’ve mostly been sold to heads of state in the Middle East who don’t want to be identified, he said.
The plane delivered today will spend six months having a sleeping loft installed at the same Boeing facility in Wichita where the U.S. president’s Air Force One modifications are done, Taylor said. Then it will be at a Lufthansa Technik facility in Hamburg for about two years to outfit the rest of the interior.
Boeing is increasing the production rate to two 747s a month as it anticipates a rebound in demand for freight traffic next year. Lund said the Chicago-based company is “bullish” on orders for the plane.
The 747-8 is about two years behind schedule for the freighter version and more than a year for the Intercontinental. Engineers were diverted to the 787 Dreamliner, which was even further behind, and then Boeing needed to design a new wing to accommodate changes made to the 747-8, which include a longer fuselage and a stretch of the iconic hump on top of the passenger version.
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