Airframer says sales effort will soon result in orders for passenger version of stretch

Boeing has sales campaigns for its stretched 747 derivatives under way at more than a dozen airlines for a total of nearly 100 aircraft and remains confident of securing its first commitment for the passenger version this year.

Cockpit changes 747-400 to 747-8 W420
 © Flight International

“We’ve probably got close to 80-90 aircraft-worth of proposals out, that we’re close to [order decisions on],” said Boeing vice-president and 747 programme manager Jeff Peace, speaking in London last week while visiting European airlines. “In some way or another those have all been asked for,” he said, adding that proposals have been made to “in the neighbourhood of 15 customers”.

Although only the -8 Freighter has attracted firm orders to date – a total of 34 commitments including options from Cargolux and Nippon Cargo Airlines – Peace said interest between that model and the Intercontinental passenger version is “running about half and half”. Boeing aims to capture 50% of what it predicts will be a market for 900 aircraft in the 400-plus seat class – including freighter versions – over the next two decades.

Boeing remains on track to confirm the configuration of the General Electric GEnx-powered -8 variants by October, said Peace. “Our focus has been on the power–plants because we need to go to first engine test next year. We’re very close to finalising the nacelle lines. We’ve continued work on optimising the wing shape and in May we finish reducing data out of the windtunnel testing.”

The current configuration includes fly-by-wire spoilers and Boeing is considering switching to fly-by-wire for the outboard ailerons. “Fly-by-wire for these controls gives us the capability to incorporate manoeuvre load alleviation into the wing, reducing weight and improving efficiency,” said Peace, adding that there are only five -400 slots available before production of the type ends in September 2009.


Common type-rating pledge

The 747-8 flightdeck will retain a high degree of commonality with today’s -400 to preserve a common type-rating.

“What we’re doing is trying to meld into a 747-400 fleet,” says Boeing vice-president and 747 programme manager Jeff Peace. “We’ve made commitments on the number of days of transition training – it’s going to be less than four days.”

The -8 cockpit incorporates improved flight management computers with cursor controls, new display features such as vertical situation and electronic checklists, optional Class 3 electronic flight bags and integrated electronic standby instruments.

Source: Flight International