Randy's Journal: Archives
Shape of the future
There's a great expression that applies very well to events this week: "The future is now."
Or better yet, the shape of the future is a beautiful, iconic airplane called the 747. With the fabulous endorsement from Lufthansa of the 747-8 Intercontinental, clearly passengers are going to be flying in this amazing machine for many years to come.
Lufthansa is the first airline to place an order for the 747-8 Intercontinental.
I, for one, never gave up on the 747. There was a time not too long ago when the media was writing the epitaph for the Queen of the Skies. Some have even been quoted this week as saying the 747 is on its "last legs." But does an airplane that has had 73 orders since its launch just over a year ago sound like it's on its last legs?
I'm reminded of what Joe Sutter told me earlier this year, when he pointed out that there have been lots of airplanes designed after the 747, but none have been able to fly faster or adapt better over the years. As Joe put it: "It's been able to absorb technology in every area - structure, aerodynamics, power plant, cockpit systems. It's just as modern as any airplane flying out there because Boeing has continued to invest in the product, and the basic product was right, so the investment pays off."
And the fact is, with the breakthrough engines from the 787 Dreamliner, an aerodynamically advanced wing with newly designed raked wingtips, an upgraded flight deck, and a longer passenger cabin that's completely redesigned based on the 787 interior, this is going to be a great airplane, and will be the most efficient large airplane out there, on a per seat basis.
A few words about the Lufthansa order. You couldn't ask for a better launch customer for the passenger model of the 747-8. Beginning in 2010, they'll take delivery of 20 747-8 Intercontinentals.
The new 747-8 interior is on display at the Customer Experience Center in Renton. It incorporates 787 innovations such as curved, upswept architecture, bigger bins, and mood-lighting technology.
Not only will the new 747-8s mean further efficiency through fleet modernization and a reduction of fuel and operating costs, but as Lufthansa stated this week, the 747-8 is a sustainable investment in environmental efficiency.
The 747-8 features advanced technologies from the 787, including the breakthrough new GE-nx67 engines. These technologies allow the 747-8 to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by 15% compared to the 747-400s it will replace. In addition, the -8 will generate 30% less noise than its predecessor, and meets the London QC2 airport noise level standards.
Lufthansa says its 747-8s will be configured to about 400 seats, and that the -8 "slots neatly capacity-wise between the A380 with around 550 seats and the A340-600 with around 300 seats."
This is exactly how we envisioned the 747-8 fitting with A380 operators. Other 747 operators who may not need an airplane as large as the A380 will see the -8 as a perfect airplane for the top of their fleet.
Our new 747-8 Website features some pretty cool flight videos and further details on the Shape of the Future. Click on the image to go directly to the site.
Remember, the 747-8 Intercontinental remains in the 400-500 seat market. It is not a direct competitor in the over-500-seat market, where the A380 is offered. We've been saying for some time that we've positioned the -8 in the traditional 747-size market and timed it correctly for the 747-400 replacement cycle. For those few operators that need a larger airplane, sure, the A380 may be a choice.
But clearly, Lufthansa's order validates the market for the 747-8 Intercontinental. The 747-8 program now has orders for 49 freighters and 24 Intercontinental airplanes (20 to Lufthansa, and four split between two unidentified customers) in just over a year.
Joe Sutter's vision truly became the shape of the future for millions of travelers around the world. And today we're proud to be partnered with Lufthansa to help shape the future, once again.