Boeing 747-8 set to spread its wings for passengers this year and rival A380
Boeing's year of flight tests on the 747-8 freighter may help it meet a goal of delivering the passenger version by year-end, removing the stigma of delays from its newest jumbo jet.
Boeing has targeted the end of March for the first flight of the aircraft, which it calls the Intercontinental, said Todd Zarfos, vice-president of engineering for the 747-8.
Work on the freighter during the past year was expected to make regulatory certification for the passenger version easier, he said.
"Those fixes have been incorporated in the Inter-continental," Mr Zarfos said after Boeing showed the new aircraft (above) to customers and investors yesterday in Everett, Washington.
Meeting benchmarks such as first flight and delivery is important for Chicago-based Boeing, with the plastic-composite 787 Dreamliner delayed by three years, the 747 freighter about two years late and the passenger jet a year behind schedule, analysts said.
The fifth variant of the 747, the Intercontinental was rolled out from the same Everett factory that made the first version of the plane 40 years earlier.
The newest version carries 467 passengers -- fewer than the usual 525 in the larger Airbus SAS A380.
The Intercontinental, with an average list price of $317.5m, has 33 orders to date, with 20 of them from Lufthansa and five from Korean Air Lines. Carriers typically receive discounts for large orders.