December 2005/January 2006
Volume 04, Issue 8
It's a launch!
Boeing launches new 747-8 program; NCA, Cargolux place orders
BY LESLIE HAZZARD
With a nod from two longtime customers and access to some of the latest airplane technologies in the world, Boeing last month launched the newest 747 airplane, the 747-8 Intercontinental and the 747-8 Freighter.
The airplane received a dual-continent welcome from European cargo operator Cargolux and Tokyo-based Nippon Cargo Airlines. Cargolux, an all-Boeing operator with 14 747-400 Freighters, placed orders for 10 747-8F airplanes and has purchase rights for another 10. NCA, which flies 13 747-400 Freighters, ordered eight 747-8 Freighters and has options for an additional six.
"With the launch of the 747-8, we have now fully transformed our product line and have a better offering for our customers in every segment between 100 and 450 seats," said Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "And our customers' response couldn't be better."
Mulally said he anticipates the first order for the passenger version, the 747-8 Intercontinental, next year: "The interest in the plane is phenomenal." He added that the primary markets for the new airplane will be Europe and Asia.
Though Boeing had been talking with customers for years about further improving the 747, the company needed a breakthrough to be able to launch a new 747, given the relatively small size of the market for big airplanes. That breakthrough came with the 787 Dreamliner, launched last year, and its advanced technologies.
"The 747-8 will use the technologies of the 787 to significantly increase the passenger and freighter capabilities of the 747 and offer greater fuel efficiency and improved operating economics and be friendlier to the environment," Mulally said.
Both versions of the new 747 are slightly longer and will use GE's 787-technology GEnx engines. They also will have an upgraded flight deck and an improved wing.
Mulally said the 747-8 will have the lowest operating costs and best economics of any large passenger or freighter airplane (see box below). The new 747s also fit in today's infrastructure, flying into more than 210 airports worldwide that are ready to accept them with no additional, expensive infrastructure changes required.
The 747 freighter family currently constitutes more than half of the world's total freighter capacity. Boeing freighters of all models make up more than 90 percent of the total worldwide freighter lift.
Boeing forecasts that large widebody freighters (59 metric tonnes and above in capacity) will make up 34 percent of the freighter market by 2024. Boeing also forecasts the need for about 900 airplanes the size of a 747 or larger over the next 20 years. The company anticipates it will share roughly half that market with Airbus, or about 450 orders; of that number, about 60 percent will be for 747-8 passenger airplanes and the remaining 40 percent for 747-8 Freighters.
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