Boeing is confident it will convert the 30 commitments it has for the 747-8I passenger variant into firm orders, and also expects to secure near-term incremental sales.
The 30 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) for 747-8Is that Boeing holds are from a mix of announced and undisclosed customers including Air China (five), Transaero (four) and an undisclosed operator (15).
Boeing vice-president and general manager of the 747-8 programme Elizabeth Lund, who was on board the 747-8I's first passenger service flown by Lufthansa between Frankfurt and Washington Dulles on 1 June, says she expects more sales in 2012. "These will come in two versions: we hope to get confirmation of some of the MoUs and I believe we will see additional sales as well," she says.
Air China has a memorandum of understading for five 747-8Is
"We're in active sales campaigns for the passenger variant. I would like to announce some orders this summer, but I don't know if it will be before or after Farnborough [air show]."
Lund expects that in the longer term the sales lead the 747-8F freighter variant has enjoyed will be redressed and the order book will eventually become a 50/50 split with the passenger model.
The next airline that will receive a 747-8I is still being finalised, says Lund, but it is likely to be either Korean Air or Air China - the latter customer was announced in March last year but the deal is awaiting government approval.
Another significant yet-to-be-confirmed order was the deal for 15 aircraft from an undisclosed customer, announced at the 2011 Paris air show. This MoU, which is understood to held by China's HNA Group, still stands, says Lund: "This is still going through the formalisation and approval process."
Meanwhile, Lund suggests that a further stretch of the 747 has not been ruled out. "It could [be stretched], some day. Once in a while on the drawing board we toy with a few things, but it is not imminent," she says. "The 747 [has to wait its] turn on the product development board."