Boeing's new 747-8: Same, but different


Boeing's new 747-8: Same, but different

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Water cannons greet the arrival of the first 747-8 Intercontinental to Hong Kong in April. The latest version of the fabled jumbo jet, the 747-8 Intercontinental rolled out last year and is currently being built at a rate of two per month. Each 747-8 is made up of about 6 million parts and has a list price of $351.4 million.

Lufthansa is the only airline flying a passenger version of the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. The carrier took delivery of the first of 19 planes in May 2012. Boeing changed its naming convention for the latest 747. The plane's "747-8" designation highlights the technology connection between Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and its new 747. An older 747-400 appears in the background of this photo.

If you didn't notice it in the first two images, this photo taken through a rain-stained window shows the new wing. The Boeing 747-8 has done away with its recognizable winglets. The new raked wingtip design improves aerodynamics, reducing fuel use. The same design is used on the 787 Dreamliner. The 747-8 is 14% more fuel efficient than its predecessor, according to Boeing. Lufthansa says fuel efficiency has been 1% better than forecast. The noise footprint of the plane is about 30% smaller than for the 747-400.

Though the cockpit has been upgraded, it's based on the same technology used in the Boeing 747-400 and 787. This means existing flight simulators can be used and conversion training is minimized. Aileorns (a hinged surface used to control lateral balance) and flaps on the wings are operated by fly-by-wire technology.

A rest area for pilots is located at the back of the cockpit area, but behind the security door. A rest area for cabin crew is located at the very rear of the 747-8.

Lufthansa's first-class cabin is touted as the quietest in the world. Suede walls, floors and curtains are designed to absorb or insulate sound. This plane is fitted out with eight first-class seats; each is 80 centimeters wide and when flat offers 207 centimeters of space.

Sure, first class has suede walls and more than 100 video options on its 17-inch monitors, but, for us, the coolest feature is automatic window blinds! Like kids in a new car pressing all the buttons, we just couldn't help ourselves.

Our fill-in model demonstrates a fully reclined first-class seat. When properly set up for flight, there's a mattress on top of the seat. A partition can be raised between seats to increase privacy. We don't recommend sleeping in a business suit.

With the new aircraft, Lufthansa is launching a new business class. This 747-8 is kitted out with 80 business-class seats. There are 32 in the upper deck, 48 below (pictured here). The lower area sports a V-shaped 2-2-2 configuration. Upstairs it's 2-2.

Lufthansa's business-class seat can be flattened to make a 1.98-meter bed. It felt a little snug for our 188 cm model (wearing shoes), but lowering arm rests and a hollow center console added to the comfort. Lufthansa says 1,340 passengers tested its new seat.

The 747's famed staircase has been redesigned. With a new "flared" shape, the area is a lot brighter and feels more open than it used to. The entire entryway area at the base has also been redesigned.

The economy class seating plan sports a 3-4-3 configuration and can accommodate a total of 298 passengers. An improvement is extra head space -- some overhead storage space has been relocated into the curved walls.

Economy-class seats are 52 centimeters wide and can be inclined 113 degrees. Lufthansa says it has added 5 to 7 centimeters more leg room than its 747-400. All seats on the plane are set up for inflight power and can handle iDevices. In economy, each has a 9-inch monitor with 50 video options.

Lufthansa is currently flying six 747-8s, serving Frankfurt, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Bangalore and New Delhi. Korean Air and Air China are the only other airlines to date that have ordered the 747-8 Intercontinental. A freighter version, the 747-8F, is in operation with Korean Air, Cathay Pacific, Atlas Air and other cargo carriers.















747-8 Intercontinental is latest version of the iconic 747 jumbo jet
Only five are in operation at the moment, all operated by Lufthansa
The 747-8 is the longest commercial aircraft in the world

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Few feats of engineering are synonymous with an entire industry.
But Boeing's 747 jumbo jet revolutionized air travel, adding to the glamour, romance and, most significantly, affordability of commercial flight, while simultaneously slapping it in the face by ushering in the bovine era of mass tourism.
Monumental in size, the shape of the 747 is iconic itself -- the enormous wings, four engines and that front end "hump" make it one of the world's most recognizable aircraft. To this day, the "upstairs" seating area -- reserved for a lucky few each flight -- imparts a sense of prestige and exclusivity.
Boeing has delivered more than 1,400 of the aircraft to airlines around the world -- not bad for a plane now into its fifth decade.
Since its historic debut at the Paris Air Show in 1969, the company has introduced a number of variations to the 747 family, including the 747-100, 747-200 and 747-300. The most common variety for international travelers today are versions of the 747-400.
Each new version has brought enhancements. The 747-400's most noticeable change was the addition of winglets, which Boeing describes as "wing tip extensions which reduce lift-induced drag and provide some extra lift."

The "747-8" designation is intended to call attention to the connection between similar technologies employed in Boeing's 787 and its new 747.

The 747-400 is no longer being built -- production ended in 2009.
Its successor, the 747-8 Intercontinental, rolled out last year and is currently being built at a rate of two per month. Each 747-8 is made up of about 6 million parts and has a list price of $351.4 million.
Lufthansa is the only airline flying the passenger version of the 747-8. It has six in the skies serving cities such as Frankfurt, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Bangalore and New Delhi. The first was delivered in 2012, one of 19 of the aircraft the European carrier ordered, with deliveries expected to be completed in 2015.
This month, the airline added the 747-8 to its Hong Kong-Frankfurt route and invited CNN to tour the latest version of the classic jumbo jet.
So what's different?
No surprise that the 747-8 Intercontinental looks like a 747. Though 70% of the airplane's structural weight is brand new, it has the same iconic shape, though with some noticeable external differences.
The wings are new -- an upgrade Boeing hadn't originally intended for the new design. Gone are the winglets, replaced by raked wingtips Boeing says increase aerodynamics and, thus, fuel efficiency.
The same design is being used on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. Boeing says the 747-8 is approximately 14% more fuel efficient per seat than its predecessor.

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The engines are new, too. There are still four, but the new design features a scallop-edged casing around each newly developed General Electric engine.
As important, though less noticeable to the typical passenger, the plane has been stretched. It's 5.6 meters (18 feet) longer than its predecessor, with a total length of 76.3 meters (250 feet). Boeing points out this makes the 747-8 about a meter longer than the Airbus A340-600 and thereby the longest commercial aircraft in the world.
The upper deck is also stretched.
"We chose this location (for additional room) because it is here that the airlines benefit the most -- both from the premium seating on both the upper and lower decks, as well as in the cargo hold," says Boeing's Joanna Pickup.
Inside, the plane still has that exhilarating new airplane smell (kind of like new car smell, but a lot more expensive), with windows and surfaces joyously free of the scratches, smudges and hair goo residue all too typical of the commercial flying experience.
When we toured it was also free of other passengers -- no screaming kids nor (sadly) smiling cabin crew manning the drinks cart.
While we can't comment on the flying experience, the Lufthansa 747-8 interior is sleek, comfortable, modern and efficient. In other words, German -- designed to get you from A to B in good shape without over the top frills.
In economy class, where seats are naturally skeletal compared with their fat cousins up front, nothing feels tacky or about to break. Or worse still, like your father-in-law has been sitting in it for 20 years.
'Wow factor'

Lufthansa's new business class seating.

With the plane comes Lufthansa's new business class, which will be retrofitted on the rest of the airline's fleet.
We've reeled off some of business class' features and other enhancements in the gallery above. Expect the mod cons -- fully flat seats in biz and first, video on demand, power plugs and iDevice ports and new features such as sound-insulating curtains and cool automatic window shades in first class.
On the whole, the plane feels spacious. Admittedly, this is easier to pull off when no one else is aboard, but relocating some storage area to sidewalls (not in overhead spaces) adds a lot of cabin room and makes it less likely passengers will bash their heads on compartments above in that frantic post-landing-must-touch-my-carryon-immediately moment of choreographed (and mystifying) panic.
Lufthansa can carry 386 passengers on its 747-8 in its 8-80-298 (first-business-economy) arrangement.
The upper deck is home to 32 business class seats in a 2-2 configuration -- the width of the area is roughly the same as the interior of the 737-700.
It's here and at the front of the plane that Lufthansa is aiming to attract customers in the competitive but lucrative East Asia-Europe route.
"This gives us a competitive shift. We have been here for 52 years and we know that customer expectations are high. That's why we are the first to bring the 747-8 to Hong Kong," says Andrew Bunn, Lufthansa general manager for Hong Kong, South China, Taiwan and Macau.
"It brings a unique element to our brand. From an economic point of view, it gives us more capacity and is more cost effective. For customers, they will notice and appreciate the enhancements on board.
"More than anything, it is exciting. It is a new experience. It is a new aircraft. There is certainly a 'wow' factor, not just for our customers. People all over the airport are taking pictures of the aircraft every day."
Still capturing attention, this legend of the skies is showing no signs of retirement. Rather, the 747-8 is the latest chapter in a legendary chunk of aviation history.

Source: Boeing's new 747-8: Same, but different

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