By Devesh Agarwal and Vinay Bhaskara
Late on September 4th, 2011, the first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental rolled out of a paint hangar near Boeing’s Everett Factory in Seattle in full Lufthansa colors. This first aircraft, which will be registered as D-ABYA, will undergo stringent ground tests ahead of planned initial test flights beginning in November.
As per Boeing, this first aircraft is tentatively scheduled to be delivered to the German airline on Feburary 13, 2012 and enter service in spring of 2012.
“The Boeing 747-8 has been stretched by six metres compared with the Boeing 747-400. The new Jumbo measures 76.3 metres in length, making it the world’s longest passenger airliner. The Boeing 747-8 is also setting new standards in terms of sustainability. For example, the redesigned wings with their state-of-the-art profile and ranked wingtips give the aircraft an aerodynamic advantage. In addition, the newly developed GEnx-2B67 engines offer greater fuel efficiency as well as reduced emissions and noise levels. The Boeing 747-8 consumes 13 per cent less fuel than the Boeing 747-400.”
Lufthansa has firm orders for 20 Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental aircraft, which are scheduled to be delivered between 2012 and 2015. The carrier also has further purchase options for 20 more examples.
India is a large recepient of Lufthansa’s existing Boeing 747-400 fleet, with the carrier operating the Jumbo jet to Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai out of a total six destinations to India. Clarification: Lufthansa will be suspending service to its seventh destination Hyderabad next month.
With the Government of India sitting on the carrier’s request to operate the Airbus A380 super-jumbo on the Delhi-Frankfurt route for over a year, there was hope that Lufthansa would upgrade certain India routes to the 747-8i. However, a spokesperson for the airline indicated that the carrier “has no concrete plans yet for any changes in our existing fleet serving India” seeming to indicate a certain negative sentiment within the corridors of power within the civil aviation authorities following the rebuff of Air India by the Star alliance, an effort in which Lufthansa was the mentor to the national carrier.
Photos courtesy The Boeing Co. and Lufthansa A.G.