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The World’s Largest Boeing Takes Flight | Autopia

June 1, 2012

Boeing’s largest airplane began passenger service today as Lufthansa enlisted the service of the new 747-8 Intercontinental on a flight from Frankfurt, Germany, to Washington, D.C. The newest 747 is a bigger, quieter and more efficient version of the iconic jumbo jet that first flew passengers under the Pan Am banner back in 1970. The 747-8I uses much of the same technology found on the 787 Dreamliner, along with an all-new wing and engines.

One of the first changes airplane aficionados will notice about this newest 747 is the iconic hump and its stretched profile. The fuselage has been stretched around 18 feet compared to the 747-400 that preceded the 747-8. The extra length allowed Boeing to add about 50 more seats for a total of 467 in the standard layout.

Lufthansa opted for a much more spacious seating setup for its configuration, utilizing just 362 seats in total. One of the main reasons for the reduced seating capacity is the increased use of new lay-down business class seats filling the top deck on the 747. And for passengers who want a positively plush experience, Lufthansa offers just eight first class seats in a closed-off section at the nose, with luxuries usually reserved for private jets.

Additionally, Boeing made improvements for the pilots. The flight deck is a familiar place for any Boeing jumbo jet pilot and the transition for an existing 747 pilot requires only three days. The latest avionics are displayed on multiple glass panel displays in the cockpit and a partial fly-by-wire flight control system means the airplane that first flew more than 40 years ago is no Luddite.

For those operating the new 747-8, the most important improvements may be the engines and aerodynamics. The new wing and four engines suspended beneath it mean much better efficiency. Boeing says the new jet uses 15 percent less fuel than its predecessor and uses 11 percent less fuel per passenger than the Airbus A380.

For most passengers the important things are on the inside. And we recently had a chance to walk through Lufthansa’s new baby before it left Boeing’s home airport next to its production center in Everett, Washington. We had a look throughout the plane, but being aero-geeks, we wanted to start up in the cockpit.


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