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The first Boeing 747-8 Freighter to enter service looked like a hungry child eager for more food.
Just hours after it was delivered to launch customer Cargolux Airlines, the jumbo jet was at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport with its nose door up and mouth wide open for the first of many cargo pallets.
"Economically, it's quite important to have a load on the first flight," said Captain Marcel Funk, vice president of flight operations at Cargolux.
The Luxembourg-based carrier had lined up more than 100 tons of cargo for the airplane's flight back to its headquarters. Intent on generating income as soon as possible, Cargolux made what is traditionally an airplane's delivery flight its first revenue flight as well.
"We will be your ambassadors to show that you not only construct great planes but that your customers can make money with these planes." David Arendt, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Cargolux Airlines
The team of cargo handlers quickly got to work. Through the nose and the side of the airplane, they carefully loaded the brand-new jet with pallets of electronic equipment, plants and other items.
It seemed the 747-8F was never satisfied as pallet after pallet disappeared into its cavernous fuselage.
The 747-8 is the latest version of the iconic Boeing 747, replacing the 747-400. Stretched 18 feet or 5.5 meters longer than its predecessor, the 747-8F can fly 147 tons of cargo - 22 tons more than the 747-400F. The elongated fuselage is joined with a new advanced wing and next-generation engines, allowing the 747-8F to use less fuel per ton and reduce carbon emissions.
"The new 747-8F is a real game changer in the air cargo market and will replace our 747-400s as a reliable workhorse," said Frank Reiman, president and chief executive officer for Cargolux.
Cargolux, Europe's largest all-cargo airline, has 13 747-8 Freighters on firm order.
"The new 747-8F is a real game changer in the air cargo market and will replace our 747-400s as a reliable workhorse." Frank Reiman, Chief Executive Officer, Cargolux Airlines
During the delivery ceremony at Boeing's facility in Everett, Wash., Cargolux's executive vice president and chief financial officer said the carrier looks forward to flying more of the freighters in the coming years.
"We will be your ambassadors to show that you not only construct great planes but that your customers can make money with these planes," David Arendt told his Boeing partners. "That is what we will prove now."
Cargolux is not wasting any time proving their case. It plans to enter the first freighter into international long-haul service immediately.
"It's going to go full speed in operation," said Capt. Funk. "For the first five, six weeks, we will fly this [airplane] an average of 14 hours a day."
A second Boeing 747-8 Freighter was delivered to Cargolux a day later.