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Boeing Swings 747-8 Gear
Sep 11, 2009
Guy Norris firstname.lastname@example.org
Boeing has successfully completed initial gear swing tests on the first 747-8, marking a major milestone in the ground systems and function test phase.
The initial actuation test was completed on Sep 10. The aircraft, RC501, is expected to be lowered off the jacks later today so that the main gear door load tests can get underway.
Boeing is also conducting tests of a drain system built into the engine struts which is designed to prevent potentially flammable fluids accumulating in the pylon attaching the engine to the wing. However all four of the struts connecting the new GE GEnx-2B engines are believed to have failed this test when attempted on Sep 10, and engineering work is underway to rectify the issue so the test can be repeated.
The strut drain system on earlier 747s was the subject of an FAA airworthiness directive applicable to GE CF6-powered models in 2003. The AD called for inspections, checks and replacements where needed to "prevent leaking fuel line couplings, chafed fuel lines, restricted or clogged strut drain lines, fluids or vapors migrating to ignition sources, and flashback of external flame into the strut, which could result in uncontained engine strut fire."
Boeing also continues to work toward door rigging test of the ram air turbine (RAT), the drop-down unit which is designed to feed additional hydraulic power to the 747-8 in the event of a main hydraulic system loss.
Boeing last hoped to perform the RAT door tests earlier this week, but engineering sources now say the tests won't even be attempted until Monday Sept. 14 at the earliest.
All three 747-8s 'alive'
Posted by Guy Norris at 10/1/2009 9:40 AM CDT
Boeing began the first systems tests on the third 747-8, RC522, on Sep 29. This means that all three of the 747-8F test aircraft are now theoretically ‘alive’ and in the process of some sort of functional factory testing - a milestone for the program. The work on RC522 is extremely basic and so far has been restricted to checks of the line replaceable units in preparation for upcoming flow balance tests in the electronics equipment bay. Systems test work on RC521, the second in the assembly flow, is due to ramp-up in early October, while tests on the first aircraft RC501 are scheduled to involve a test pilot on Oct 5. The pilot will help with tests of rudder, aileron and elevator functionality, assuming work to check cable slack on all these control surfaces has been completed by this coming weekend. First flight is now widely expected towards the end of November.
October 6th, 2009
•Second delay in program
•747-8 program now in loss position
•Few deliveries seen in FY10
A second delay in 747-8 program is bad news for Boeing - not that any of 2009 has been easy or indeed, going to get any easier, however the $1bn charge is an unpleasant turn for the worst but now Boeing may have some breathing space to deliver on the 787.
After that, there is no excuse for what has been a dire year for the company on failing to achieve pre-designated targets.
With the 747 program already stung with a $685m charge earlier this year, this new financial burden has in part freed up some engineering and flight-related resources aimed at getting the side of body repair complete on the 787 and that should still take to the air by years end.
If it doesn’t, then the scrutiny that will befall Boeing is one that will be self-inflicted.
747-8F production line, taken during my Everett visit last week
Images copyright/owned by FleetBuzz Editorial.com
Having visited the 747-8 line just last week, condition of assembly appears excellent and with the first 747-8F over 90% complete, the delay into the fourth quarter of next year for service entry will probably work well for launch customer Cargolux, who like other freight operators are still haemorrhaging loss on earnings and yields in the wake of a worldwide traffic collapse that shows little, if any sign of recovery.
That is of no consolation to a beleaguered aerospace company that has thus far failed to deliver on the 787 program after five crippling delays and now runs the risk of damaging the biggest cash cow it has had for over three decades by weighing it down with this new financial burden.
Granted, this is the second delay in this program, but one would be forgiven that with less than 10% to complete on the first airframe that an “unknown unknown” would crop up to somehow stifle first flight into next year poses some questions about the timing of this news, particularly since the 747-8F, despite its engineering challenges, has come a long way in contrast to the new methods of construction employed on the 787.
The 747 is a legacy program, one that has delivered over 1400 units with over 100 yet to deliver while being fortunate that the freighter orders have for now, remained solid.
Add in the appeal that the 747-8F has no competitors; the model has unique monopoly positioning so this setback in the grand scheme of things isn’t yet a “total disaster” by any account.
The immediate pressure will however mean the 787 comes into play.
If this delay to the 747 does not see the 787 fly by the close of play this year, ultimately new BCA CEO Jim Albaugh is starting his tenure under a shadow of doubt and his critics and sceptics will revel in this only too well.
Raked wing tip up close of RC501 in Everett
Financially, this is a deep blow to Boeing – with money being spread across this and the 787 program, compensation payments and costs attached to the Charleston plant purchase, Boeing has it all to do in 2010 - a year which will likely prove more challenging than this year with the expected queue of airlines ready to knock on Boeing’s door for more financing of their orders contrast to what has been seen so far in 2009.
The saving grace is that the 747-8F will draw on lessons learned by the 777 Freighter and aim to enter service with minimal interruption once the three flight test airplanes get to work and chew through some 1700 hours in flight testing along with 2100 hours for ground tests.
As we have seen with the A380, the biggest risk to the 747-8F is that of deferrals if the freight market continues to wane and if any further orders do not appear on the horizon. The 747-8 Intercontinental may be approaching the third year year without a new airline customer, but Lufthansa’s commitment is intact although that program is also in need of a boost with a new airline order.
By delaying the 747-8F’s first flight, Boeing has inadvertently drawn more pressure to itself and that of the 787 program – the financial burdens will inevitably be overcome, particularly since there haven’t been any 747-8F cancellations – however, with the stark possibility of fewer than five deliveries next year, Boeing can ill-afford to push the 787 at the expense of the 747-8 program, especially when both need deliveries so Boeing gets paid.
The time has come to stop these self-inflicted injuries and start the healing process.
Earnings due later this month will hardly be the catalyst for any recovery at Boeing, but seeing the 787 emerge from repairs in a few weeks will likely be the first “green shoot” of recovery that has become an industry buzzword, followed by its long awaited first flight.
This is yet another bad day that Boeing could have avoided and should have avoided.
747-8F: What went wrong?
By Jon Ostrower on October 7, 2009 9:32 PM
Yesterday's announcement of a fresh delay to Boeing's 747-8 Freighter program wasn't triggered by a single large event but rather the accumulation of small issues that added up to an additional three month slip in first delivery to Cargolux to the fourth quarter of 2010.
"It is more akin to death by a thousand cuts," says one program engineer of the latest delay.
At its heart, the delay was attributable to resource constraints driven by the engineering responsibilities diverted by the 787 program.
"Consequently", the engineer says, "more engineering errors escaped than what could be considered normal."
For example, the leading edge Krueger flaps had to be reworked because they weren't fairing properly.
For those on the assembly floor, "workers are adjusting to building a new airplane. A lot of them have been moved around...so their work lacks continuity which leads to production errors," says the engineer.
747 vice-president and general manager Mohammad 'Mo' Yahyavi said in May, "I have all the resources I need now for both the freighter and the Intercontinental."
Program executives addressed this central question about resource allocation for the 747-8 after the 787 was grounded in late June for the side-of-body fix:
"The 787 will identify the requirements they need to address their challenges, but that won't have an impact on the 747," Todd Zarfos, the vice president of engineering for the jumbo-jet program, said in an interview today. "Over the last two years we've aligned our engineering resource ability to make sure we meet all our commitments."
Despite the planning that was put into effect to avoid such a repeat of previous resource starvation, the 747 again fell victim to the engineering demand of the 787.
747-8I launch customer Lufthansa, whose passenger variant entry into service remains unchanged, expected that a further program delay would result because of the 787 resource shift.
Lufthansa CFO Stephan Gemkow was quoted on June 25th as saying:
"I'm sure again the delay of the 787 will mean that they have to pull in more engineering resources, and that will have even further delays, as a consequence, for the 747-8. I would not be surprised to learn this some weeks or months in the future."
Prior to yesterday's announcement, RC501, was set to leave the 747 final assembly line for the paint hangar around October 11th, with first flight planned for December 9th.
Of the total number of tasks required to build a 747-8 from structural build up all the way to pre-flight activities, just over 50% had been fully completed at the time the delay was announced, according to company sources.
Of the balance of tasks or "jobs" that have yet to be completed or "sold" many remain "open" or partially completed, paced by engineering changes. As a result, the total level of completion was far above 50%, but the open and unfinished jobs created a critical path bottleneck that has to be overcome before moving forward.
CATIA and the IRON BIRD
Boeing decided against a full systems integration lab (SIL) for the 747-8 derivative aircraft, due to the influence of the legacy systems on the current design. However, because a SIL was unavailable, says a second 747-8 program engineer, many of the system level issues were encountered on the aircraft, rather than being caught in the lab.
In addition, without a universal computer model derived from Dassault Systemes CATIA v5 software, Boeing has found itself "trying to bridge the gap between 1969 and 2009," says a veteran engineer based at one of Boeing's 747-8 suppliers.
For example, the new wing design and enlarged empennage were designed through CATIA v5, while a portion of of the internal fuselage structure and other parts of the aircraft were built using legacy engineering drawings.
Some parts and their associated engineering drawings, the engineer says, have not changed since the 747-100, which in some instances has led to a loss of tolerance control in some areas.
Any gaps in the structure are typically addressed with structural shims to align and help parts fit together. However, as the resources have been stretched so thin, the engineering for those shims has been slow to take hold, say the engineers.
"The scope of this delay doesn't compare to what the 787 has been going through, but it is still disappointing," says the first engineer. "Boeing and its employees so desperately need something to celebrate right now."
747-8 - Gearing up for Gauntlet
Posted by Guy Norris at 10/30/2009 5:35 PM CDT
Boeing says final testing getting underway this weekend on RC501, the first 747-8, should clear the way for the start of ‘factory gauntlet’ tests in early November. Ground vibration tests were successfully completed earlier this month, and preparation work is building up on the other two flight test aircraft, RC521 and RC522. RC521 is being prepared for the start of factory functional tests, having this week undergone final aerodynamic configuration checks and work on the on-board weight and balance system. Test engineers on RC522 are meanwhile checking out the aircraft’s electronic cooling sub-system, presumably in advance of the complete installation of remaining avionics. Assembly of the first aircraft to be delivered to Cargolux, the fourth 747-8 and the 1,423rd 747 to be produced, is progressing with the aircraft now in the wing-body join position. RC501, the 1,420th 747, will be refurbished after flight tests and will be the airline’s second 747-8. The remaining 747-8 flight test aircraft will be delivered to Nippon Cargo after refurbishment.
According to sources, Boeing has target dates for the first flights for the 747-8 and 787-8.
The first flight for the 787 is targeted for December 22, 2009.
The first flight for the 747-8 is targeted for January 14, 2010.
I do have independent confirmation of these dates but as with everything with regards to these two airplane programs, the question remains if these dates are achievable. Time will tell.
http://boeing.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=942First Boeing 747-8 Freighter Leaves Paint Hangar
EVERETT, Wash., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing moved the first 747-8 Freighter out of the paint hangar in Everett, Wash., Tuesday night sporting a special "light" livery.
Painted white with blue accents, the 747-8 Freighter unveiled a new twist on the Boeing Commercial Airplanes livery. It features an oversized "8" on the background of the tail as well as "747-8" on the belly.
The light livery, which saves time and expense compared to the full Boeing livery, will remain on the airplane until the flight-test program is completed. After flight test, it will be refurbished and delivered to a customer.
The first freighter will begin preparing for the necessary tests leading up to first flight in early 2010.
Boeing ahead of plan on 747-8 Intercontinental
Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental (Boeing image)
Boeing reached 90 percent design for the passenger version of its 747-8 this week, Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, wrote Thursday.
"One of the great stories here is that we reached this important point a week and a half ahead of the plan we laid out a year ago for the program," Tinseth wrote. "What that says is that we're learning some good lessons on the 747-8 Freighter. We've been able to change the way we approached the design of the Intercontinental."
Boeing announced in October that it expected a pre-tax charge against third-quarter results of approximately $1 billion due to increased production costs and the difficult market conditions affecting its 747-8 program, and was delaying first flight of the 747-8 Freighter from late 2009 to early next year, while keeping first delivery of the 747-8 Intercontinental passenger variant in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The 747-8 Freighter design effort led to improvements for the 747-8 Intercontinental that "gave the program greater visibility on all steps in the engineering development, and that helped the program quickly identify areas that needed extra focus," Tinseth wrote. "Bottom line is that we're in a better place on the Intercontinental. The program's goal now is to keep up the progress and carry it over to production which is planned to begin the middle of next year."
Posted by Guy Norris at 12/4/2009 9:22 PM CST
Korean Air’s signing on the dotted line for five 747-8I passenger models plus purchase rights on a further five (see this Fleetbuzz.com analysis) comes in a busy week for the program. News of the Asian marketing breakthrough emerged within hours of Boeing reaching the 90% design release point for the Intercontinental model. Outside work meanwhile continues on readying the first 747-8F for flight in mid-January, while General Electric’s 747 flying testbed is meanwhile heading to Seattle to look for natural icing to wrap up certification testing on the GEnx-2B engine. The irony is that GE’s flight test team hope to find exactly the sort of horrible ice-laden weather that the 787 flight test team wants to avoid – at least for a few days around mid-December when they hope to finally get airborne.
http://boeing.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=986Boeing Successfully Completes 747-8 Freighter Engine Runs
Boeing successfully completed the first engine runs for the 747-8 Freighter. The milestone marks another step in the 747 program's steady progress in preparing for flight test.
"We are very pleased with the engines' performance during this test," said Mo Yahyavi, vice president and general manager of the 747 program. "The engines and all the systems performed as expected."
Engine runs began slightly before 10 a.m. (PST) Tuesday. During initial engine runs, the engines are started and operated at various power settings to ensure all systems perform as expected. The engine run test began with the auxiliary power system providing power to start the first of four General Electric GEnx-2B engines. The remaining three engines were started using the cross-bleed function.
Basic systems checks continued throughout the test. The engines were powered down and inspected and will be restarted following a technical review. The team completed a vibration check and monitored the shutdown logic to ensure it functioned as expected.
"This milestone is an exciting one for the GEnx-2B team and we anticipate the engines will continue the same high performance that we have experienced in our ground and flight tests," said Tom Brisken, general manager of the GEnx Program at GE Aviation.
The GEnx-2B engine is optimized for the 747-8. It helps provide customers with improved fuel efficiency, reductions in emissions and noise and a lower cost of ownership.
http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90778/90860/6841482.htmlHongdu to produce parts for Boeing 747-8 airplane
Jiangxi Hongdu Aviation Industrial Shareholding Company recently signed a production sub-contract with Vought Aircraft Industries in Nanchang which allows the two companies to co-produce parts for the 48th section of Boeing 747-8 airplane.
The contract involves 116 million U.S. dollars and the sole supplier for the project is Hongdu. The first delivery of products to Vought Aircraft Industries is scheduled for the first quarter of 2011. Vought Aircraft Industries will undertake 90 percent of the Boeing 747 structural parts production.
The successful signing of this production contract between Hongdu and Vought is an important step for Hongdu to enter the international aviation industrial chain and to show Hongdu's unique advantages in manufacturing key structural parts for large planes. It will play an important role in promoting the development of Jiangxi province's civil aviation industry and the construction of Nanchang's aviation industrial city.
Boeing is working through a long list of system checks, or engineering work authorizations (EWAs), on the first 747-8F before clearing the way for the start of flightline gauntlet tests of the type so familiar to anyone who has been following the saga of the 787 on its way to first flight.
747-8 - flight test update
Posted by Guy Norris at 1/7/2010 11:31 PM CST
RC501 awaits further ground tests at Everett (Guy Norris)
The fact that testing on RC501, the first 747-8F, has yet to reach the systems gauntlet stage suggests that first flight is still weeks away. Given the status of current work it seems Boeing is not likely to open up the first flight window until around the end of the month rather than mid-January as was speculated late last year. Officially all Boeing is saying is that “first flight will occur early in the year in the first quarter.”
Ground crews are currently working through tests of the air data inertial reference units (ADIRU), a key component of the 747-8’s navigation avionics suite. The ADIRU is the great-great-great grandson of the inertial navigation system (INS) which Boeing engineers were tweaking 41 years ago as they prepared the first 747 for flight in early 1969. The 747 was the first commercial aircraft to have an INS designed in it from the outset and was the first civil application of then brand-new technology originally hatched for the U.S. nuclear submarine and Apollo space programs.
Other ‘EWAs’ are underway on the angle-of-attack sensor system, primary flight control system, flight management computer and the on-board processor which works out the aircraft’s center-of-gravity. The fact that the EWAs are edging closer to the gauntlet tests is backed by evidence that the flight control system evaluation late last week was supported by Boeing’s patented flight emulation test system (FETS), which provides the simulation scenarios required for the flightline gauntlet.
RC521 - the second 747-8 - outside for the first time at Everett. (Matt Cawby)
Work is also underway on the second aircraft, RC521, which is now on the Everett ramp after rolling out of Building 40-22 earlier this week. The current tests are focused on early calibration of the same center-of-gravity processor that will be used during flight tests. Early test work is also underway on RC522, now in the slant position nearest the door inside Building 40-22. The current work is aimed at operating tests of the aft 104 inch x 66 inch lower lobe cargo door on the aircraft’s right hand side, and design verification tests of the larger 122 inch x 134 inch main deck cargo door on the aft left side.
Boeing begins final gauntlet tests on 747-8F
By Jon Ostrower
Final Gauntlet tests are currently underway on the first Boeing 747-8F, marking another step forward toward the aircraft's maiden sortie, the airframer confirms.
Designated RC501, the first 747-8F is undergoing a rigorous series of closed loop tests that will trick the new 747's systems into believing the aircraft is flying, and then testing the responses.
The aircraft will be "flying" a standard B1 first flight profile, simulating potential failures that confirm the effectiveness of the built-in design redundancy of the aircraft's systems.
Mark Feuerstein, 747 chief pilot, is on board the flight deck of RC501 for the tests that began on 21 January at the company's Everett, Washington facility. The continuous testing will last for 40h, and conclude on 23 January.
Feuerstein will be joined by senior test pilot Tom Imrich for the aircraft's first flight, which is expected early this year.
Following the Final Gauntlet the aircraft will spend about a week in post testing layup as it prepares for taxi tests and formal flight readiness review, as well as issuing of an experimental airworthiness certificate by the US FAA.
Boeing holds orders for 108 747-8 aircraft, split between 76 freighters and 32 passenger aircraft. First delivery of the 747-8F is planned for the fourth quarter of 2010 to Luxembourg-based Cargolux.
The milestone comes 40 years to the day after the first commercial service of the 747-100 with Pan American World Airways between New York City and London
Number Crunching: What JAL's bankruptcy does to the 747-400
By Jon Ostrower on January 20, 2010 6:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBacks (0) |ShareThis
Tuesday's bankruptcy filing by Japan Airlines (JAL) ended weeks of speculation about the airline's uncertain financial future. As part of the upcoming restructuring that will see more than 15,000 jobs eliminated, the airline is retiring its fleet of 35 747 passenger aircraft (27 -400s & 8 -400D) .
The retirement decision came juxtaposed to the 40th anniversary of the 747's entry into service. With the help of Flightglobal's ACAS database I crunched some numbers about the 747 fleet today.
Currently, of the 1418 747s built and delivered since 1970 ( RA001 was never delivered), the worldwide active fleet of 747s (all variants) stands at 810, this includes military and governmental VIP customers as well, compared to the 633 active -400s. Japan has been a vital market for this airplane over the years with 1 in 10 747-400s in the world flying with a Japanese operator today.
However, as a result of the economic downturn and a progressive retirement of older 747s, 56 -400s of all types are parked, nearly 1 out of every 10 747-400 built.
By 2013, Air New Zealand, Air India, Singapore Airlines will no longer fly passenger 747s, all opting to replace their models with smaller 777s or larger A380s. With the coming retirement of the 37 JAL -400s, the number of parked -400 aircraft will more than double when combined with other airlines' future fleet plans.
With surplus 747-400s available, the result will be to hasten a steady and precipitous drop in purchase and lease rates for -400s. The introduction of the new -8F and -8F will only serve to drive those prices lower and lower. There are two ways to look at this:
The retirement of older 747-400s means that less efficient large aircraft will be replaced with equally large or larger more efficient aircraft meaning future competitions for Airbus and Boeing to sell the A380 or 747-8I, respectively. Boeing vice president of marketing, Randy Tinseth, said at the Dubai air show in November that "ultimately we believe that market is going to pick up when airlines...this coming cycle...start to replace their older 747s."
However, with 747-400 values dropping, the incentive to purchase a new 747-8F drops (where Boeing believes the market is) making it potentially cheaper to convert passenger -400s to freighters even if they are less efficient. Steve Rimmer, chief executive for Guggenheim Aviation Partners, which recently canceled two of four 747-8Fs on order, said in October that "we've never seen this quantity of freighters before in the desert" and added that "this time we won't see the market pick up fast because there's a lot of good quality aircraft in the desert".
Too many aircraft?
While a difficult point to concede for this aviation geek, there are perhaps too many aircraft in the world. I would add that this point extends to narrow-body aircraft (which are also dropping in value) also. Boeing and Airbus responded to staggering demand for aircraft big and small hiking production to potentially unsustainable rates. As a long term business the immediate benefits of hiking production are weighed against long term impacts (positive and negative) on future sales.
In the run-up to the first flight of the 747-8, Boeing is conducting a further series of primary flight control system checks as well as a final weighing of RC501 – the first flight aircraft – before commencing taxi testing.
The weighing process follows the completion of flight line system ‘gauntlet’ tests the previous weekend, as well as a range of specific system checks, one of which included tests on the engine indicating and crew alerting system (EICAS). The signal for the start of imminent taxi trials has yet to be made, but is expected to come when Boeing performs the ‘safety of flight’ test which checks the aircraft in its final configuration for any potential electro-magnetic interference.
Given the normal weight growth of the aircraft during development (a max take-off weight growth from around 960,000 lb. in 2005 to 975,000 lb. today), there has been extra scrutiny on the empty weight and the weighing-in results will be keenly awaited. Actual numbers for RC501 will be complicated by the large amounts of specialized test equipment and wiring, but for the production freighter the operating empty weight (with standard cargo system interior) is expected to be 421,000 lb.
SINGAPORE 2010: Boeing targets 8 February for 747-8F maiden sortie
By Jon Ostrower
Boeing has targeted 8 February for the maiden sortie of its 747-8 Freighter, one day shy of the 41st anniversary of the type's first first in 1969.
The company says that the first flight window will open at 10:00 PST (1800 GMT).
Sources close to the programme say that taxi tests are planned for Saturday and Sunday before the new freighter is cleared to fly on Monday, at which point weather will be the deciding factor for the green light to fly.
© Jim Larsen
Chief project pilot Mark Feuerstein and engineering test pilot Tom Imrich will take the first 747-8F, designated RC501, on it's first flight from Paine Field at the company's Everett, Washington facility.
The first flight will kick off a certification campaign that will culminate in the first delivery to Luxembourg-based Cargolux in the fourth quarter of 2010.
http://boeing.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=1064Boeing Completes 747-8 Freighter Taxi Tests
EVERETT, Wash., Feb. 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) completed taxi tests on the first 747-8 Freighter today. With Chief Pilot Mark Feuerstein at the controls, the airplane reached a top seed of approximately 90 knots (103.5 mph, 166.6 kph).
"The airplane performed well," said Mo Yahyavi, 747 program vice president and general manager, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Based on early indications, the airplane is ready to fly."
This was the last functional test planned before first flight. The first flight of the 747-8 Freighter is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 8.
Boeing 747-8 "met or exceeded" expectations in first flight
Boeing's first 747-8 Freighter flew great and flew like a 747 in its first trip Monday, according to its pilots.
"It's a big day for a big airplane," 747 Chief Pilot Mark Feuerstein said in a post-flight news conference. "We were able to accomplish everything on the flight plan, every single test condition, and every single test condition went very well."
The pilots did tests touching all of the airplane's systems, said 747 senior test pilot Tom Imrich, who was first officer on the flight. "They met or exceeded all of our expectations."
Here's a photo gallery.
The pilots tested the basic handling qualities of the aircraft, checking all of the configurations at various speeds and cycling the landing gear several times, and ran into few issues, Feuerstein said. "We only had four systems-related squawks, none of which would prevent the airplane from flying again right now."
The airplane, as expected, kept it simple in the first flight, reaching a top speed of about 230 knots and an altitude of about 17,000 feet, he said. "Probably the second or third flight we'll probably start opening up the envelope and go quite a bit faster."
Feuerstein acknowledged the front landing gear bounced a bit on the landing.
"It might have been a timing issue on my part, quite frankly," he said. "I was pretty excited to land."
The aircraft now will go into a previously planned layup to ensure it's ready for high-rate test flights and should fly again in two to three weeks, Feuerstein said.
Jim Albaugh, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said getting the 747-8 through first flight is just one milestone.
"It does reduce the risk, but there is a lot ahead of us in terms of the flight-test program," he said.
One noticeable aspect of the airplane was its lower fuel use than existing 747s, Imrich said. The 747-8 is more efficient thanks to new wings and engines, and also has upgrades to the flight deck, flight management computer and flight controls, in addition to being more than 18 feet longer and able to carry 24 percent more cargo than the 747-400.
Despite these changes, Boeing aimed to make the 747-8 fly like earlier 747s, so pilots don't need new training. The company accomplished that, Feuerstein said.
"Any 747 crew in the world could have flown the flight that Tom and I just did," he said. "Two things haven't changed: It still looks like a 747 and it still flies like a 747 and, quite frankly, it just doesn't get any better than that."
Noting all the changes, 747 program General Manager Mo Yahyavi said: "It is pretty close to a new aircraft, but it's still a 747."
Boeing has 108 orders for the 747-8: 76 for the freighter and 32 for the 747-8 Intercontinental passenger version.
The airplane will sell well, Yahyavi predicted. "We foresee and believe that this airplane is going to be really successful in the market."
Albaugh also gave a rosy assessment of the market for the 747-8 Freighter.
"When the market comes back this is going to be the freighter that people are going to have to have," he said. "We've had a history of making a pretty good profit on our programs."