Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Is The 747-8 Quietly Taking-Off?

Remember Boeing rolled out the 747-8i as an alternative for the A-380, at about the same time the 787 started flying away from Paine Field. Those big four engines quietly ply the airways from Europe to other destinations not making as much noise as Boeing would like. Quietly it hauls the freight the world around, and will be appearing in Korea as an adjunct hauler of persons seeking mass transportation in luxury.   The only thing missing is the intrigue from a name like the "Orient Express", is a full meal deal on tthe 747-8i  deck with Alfred Hitchcock.

The question arises, has the 747-8i quietly faded into obscurity? Or will it emerge as the Queen of the Skies once more? Boeing has spent billions working towards its Renaissance as the great lady it was meant to be. But, holy cow, Bat Man, four  fuel sucking engines on its wings. Two engines is now the new point of thrust when four engines likes alot of kerosene. What has Boeing done for you lately spews out of airlines boardrooms around the globe? The answer quietly surges forth, "quiet engines, and fuel sipping compliance, that matches and exceeds the A-380  per seat fuel burn. Boeing quietly strives to achieve better fuel performance out of the GE engines. The question before the aviation crowd, what does Lufthansa say about the 747-8i? What do its passengers say? The answer is in resent articles and its all good!

Boeing says it has reasons to be optimistic about 747-8

Please watch video in this King 5 Link

"Boeing saw five cancellations for its upgraded version of the 747, the 747-8.  But it also saw five firm new orders for an official net gain of zero.  But Boeing points out that it has 11 commitments from Korean Airlines and Air China, along with an unannounced customer that has never operated 747s before, all for the passenger version known as the Intercontinental.  

Airbus reports no new orders and three cancellations, but over time has received well over 200 orders for its giant fully double-decked A380 that typically seats 525 passengers in a three class configuration to 467 in the lengthened 747-8i."

Looking at this prospectus puts Boeing in the Jumbo game again. Only 58 seats under the Airbus with its longer frame, where it squeezes more economy out of the 747-8i frame. It fits in most dynamic and large airports. It haul freight in mass quantity in an efficient manner as it does passengers. This observation, pin-points the Boeing strategy for the 747-8. "Well played", could be the aviation aficionado remark of the year.  As the glamour for the A-380 rescinds into an expectation of just being massive, the 747-8i is carving out a significant niche in a new world. The follow-on orders will come about, after evaluation, as customers digest the performance and its on business plans. The next question comes in with a cliche query, What can we do with an old concept 747-8 verses the new behemoth on the block? Boeing makes this appeal, "We can do everything the A-380 can do with less seats to fill, in a Jumbo sort-of-way, and do it cheaper and more efficiently with great effect (succinct sales team talk)." You know that statement is couched nicely, but what does its primary customer, Lufthansa, say? 

We are doing things more efficiently and effective with the 747-8i and our customers love it. 

The A-380 is a showman's airplane, while the 747-8i is a "get it done experience", with a flair of comfort and quality.

Article Quote:

"So why is Boeing hopeful that more orders will come?   Part of the reason is that the first customer for the 747-8 passenger liner is reporting good results now that it's been flying a small fleet of the planes for a year.  In fact, executives with Germany's Lufthansa were willing to do a video testimonial for Boeing that's on Boeing's website

In it, one of Europe's top airlines, also considered by Airbus to be its best customer, touts the fuel economy, passenger amenities and cooperative working relationship in dramatically upgrading the long running 747 that first went into service in 1970. Lufthansa operates A380s as well as the new 747.

 "Based on the testimonials of our launch customer, that's really going to give us a lot of traction in the market place," said Bruce Dickinson, Boeing's Chief Project Engineer for the 747-8."

The door has been wedged open for the 747-8i. A handful of sales staff move out with the Lufthansa endorsement. This is a most important statement from a legacy customer that breaths life in the indomitable "Queen of The Skies". The relevancy endorsement propels the 747-8i forward more than all the new technology, engines and design features, even though they are key in its elongated life. Lufthansa owns the A-380, and knows in a side-by -side kinda of way, the comparative value for each competing type. Having made a commercial for Boeing on its web site is no accident. Its a validation of Boeing's effort for the 747-8i. It takes years for a customer to figure out buying a new type for its fleet. A customer may have to change its business footprint, plan, or operation, in order to buy an aircraft type. Now airlines are examining how could this 747-8i be a difference maker in its operation? How could its intrinsic value as a Jumbo beat the competition? Many of these questions are answered through Lufthansa 747-8i statements.

"In it, one of Europe's top airlines, also considered by Airbus to be its best customer, touts the fuel economy, passenger amenities and cooperative working relationship in dramatically upgrading the long running 747 that first went into service in 1970. Lufthansa operates A380s as well as the new 747.

 "Based on the testimonials of our launch customer, that's really going to give us a lot of traction in the market place," said Bruce Dickinson, Boeing's Chief Project Engineer for the 747-8.

But the story doesn't end there.  Another 747-8i has logged 300 hours in flight testing as part of a Performance Improvement Package (PIP) and is nearing certification.  The PIP program is designed to two things. One includes an upgrade to its General Electric engines boosting fuel economy additional  two percent.  Engines with the improvements are already arriving at the 747 flight line in Everett and existing 747-8 engines can also be upgraded.  The second upgrade is to put the plane's so-called "wet tail" to use.   The horizontal stabilizers hold additional fuel which Boeing says will increase range to 8,000 nautical miles. The freighter version of the 747-8 does not offer a wet tail option."


by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 Aviation Specialist
Bio | Email | Follow: @GlennFarley
Posted on October 9, 2013 at 6:27 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 9 at 7:00 PM




In closing, King 5 reporting has opened up a very valid news article. The 747-8i is alive and well in Puget Sound and may be coming to an airport near you. The aviation Renaissance for the 747-8i is a key player in this part of history. The A-380 has an Achilles heal and probably Boeing can exploit that weakness with an accommodating 747-8i. The customers will write the next story for the jumbo. Boeing has done all it can for the Queen of The Skies, and they have done well enough to make the difference. Lufthansa agrees and does not hesitate.