Our colleague Max Kingsley-Jones on Friday interviewed Elizabeth Lund, Boeing’s 747-8 programme manager, on Lufthansa’s inaugural 747-8 flight to Washington-Dulles.
Somewhere over the Atlantic, Lund was asked by journalists about the possibility of a “747-9″ — ergo, a new stretch of the 747-8, which itself is a 5.6m (18.4ft) stretch of the 747-400.
As Kingsley-Jones reported yesterday (for Pro subscribers only), Lund hinted such a project could follow the 777-8X/9X. Said Lund:
“The 747 could [be stretched], some day. Once in a while on the drawing board we toy with a few things, but it is not imminent. Boeing’s product development priorities are to finish the 787-9, look at a 787-10X, the 737 Max and what to do with the 777. So the 747 [has to wait its] turn on the product development board – we need to wrap up and fly for a little while, while the other models are developed.”
The history of the 747-8′s development is intriguing, as Kingsley-Jones also notes.
Flight International reported in July 1995 (download pdf page) the first details of new 747 stretch concepts dubbed the 747-500X and 747-600X. The former was described nearly 17 years ago as a 6m stretch of the 747-400, or only about a foot longer than what became the 747-8. The 747-600X, on the other hand, was a much larger beast, with a 79m wingspan and seating more than 600 in a three-class configuration and more than 800 in a high-density lay-out. The 747-600X, of course, never advanced beyond the concept stage, despite great anticipation of a possible launch at the 1996 Farnborough Air Show.
Who knows? After another decade — perhaps after the demise of Airbus A380 production — there will be room for yet another stretch of the venerable 747.
[Updated at 3:26pm with 747-600X photo and credit.]