Boeing unveils 747 Intercontinental

US company hopes longer, more fuel efficient update of its emblematic jumbo jet, will offer competition to Airbus A-380.

    The 747-8 keeps its predecessor's humped shape, but is longer to allow for more seats and cargo space [GALLO/GETTY]

    Boeing, the US aerospace giant, has unveiled its 747-8 Intercontinental, a longer and more fuel efficient update of its emblematic jumbo jet, which it hopes will compete with the Airbus A-380.

    The plane can carry 467 passengers, 51 more than the current 747, and is designed for long haul routes.

    So far, Boeing has only 33 orders for the passenger version of the new plane, including from Lufthansa and Korean Air, and 74 orders for the freight version.

    The 747-8 keeps its predecessor's humped shape, but is longer to allow for more seats and cargo space.

    "Of all the airplanes that we've built, there is one that is identified more closely with Boeing than any other, and that's the 747," said James Albaugh, head of Boeing's commercial airplane unit.

    Upper deck

    An estimated 10,000 people attended the unveiling of the plane in Everett, Washington, which was also broadcast on the company's website.

    The plane's new red and orange livery, a departure from its standard blue, was chosen in honour of the cultures of Asian clients for whom the colours symbolise prosperity and good fortune.

    Lufthansa, which has ordered 20 of the planes, will be the first to receive the new model, expected in early 2012.

    The 747-8 uses some technological innovations from Boeing's troubled 787 Dreamliner, whose completion is three years late because of technical problems. 

    The Dreamliner should be delivered late this year.

    The 747-8's interior was inspired by that of the 787, with a rounded staircase to the upper deck, higher ceilings and elongated windows.

    The Dreamliner was heralded as a new generation of highly fuel-efficient  mid-sized aircraft, but Boeing has encountered difficulties in bringing the plane to market due to its use of composite materials as well as integrating production at various sites.

    In December, Boeing said it had installed updated power system software and conducted rigorous reviews to confirm flight readiness for the 787 after it had to halt tests due to an electrical fire that forced an emergency.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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