Boeing rolled out the first 747, the 747-100 in 1968 and since then there have been numerous variations, the latest being the 747-8I.
Boeing's first 747-100 rolled off the company's Everett, Washington assembly line in 1968. The 747-8 Intercontinental being unveiled by the company today is unrecognisable from that first jumbo jetliner.
The 747-8I features an all-new supercritical wing design with roll-axis fly-by-wire controls, a larger empennage, new avionics for precision navigation, a 787-inspired interior, new General Electric GEnx-2B engines and a 5.6m (18.3ft) stretch over its predecessor the 747-400.
Launched in December 2006, the 747-8 Intercontinental and Freighter are the culmination of an almost decade-long debate about Boeing's future strategy for the largest jet segment.
Capable of accommodating 467 passengers in three classes, the -8I is Boeing's largest jetliner in the airframer’s near-100-year history and the first production stretch of the jumbo.
The 747-8F made its maiden sortie on 8 February and has accumulated 1,800h of flight testing over more than 680 flights. The stretched freighter, which is the lead variant in the 747-8 family, paved the way for the -8 Intercontinental as it continues to validate the core new technologies also found in the passenger version.
The Intercontinental marks another first for the company in that it has a non-airline launch customer. The first 747-8I, set to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2011, will be handed over to a completion centre for conversion to a VIP Boeing Business Jet configuration, the first of eight the company has in its backlog.
German flag carrier Lufthansa expects to take delivery of its first of 20 747-8Is in early 2012. Boeing has accumulated a total of 33 orders for the -8I.
A planned two-aircraft flight campaign for the latest iteration of the jumbo will kick off before the end of March, with certification validation to run for approximately four months.