Boeing's 747-8 Freighter is performing roughly at industry averages six months after first delivery, although it still falls short of the lofty expectations set by the launch customer for the passenger version. Fourteen 747-8Fs delivered to five operators since 12 October have posted a dispatch reliability rating slightly below the 97.9% mark achieved by the 777 after its first year of operation in 1995, the airframer says.

"The 777 was kind of our benchmark programme so everybody internally compares themselves to the 777 because it was such a great introduction," says Leslie Lauer, Boeing's director of 747-8 support and services. "We're not at that point, but we're very close."

The 747-8F performance beat the company's internal estimates for dispatch reliability, which Boeing officials declined to share. So far, the number of parts removals has been less than half of Boeing's targets. Launch customer Cargolux, which has operated two 747-8Fs since 13 October, declines to comment.

Boeing still faces the introduction of the first passenger 747-8I into airline service, with German flag carrier Lufthansa.

Lufthansa has indicated the first 747-8I will be handed over this week. It wants the jet to match the performance of its last all-new aircraft, the Airbus A380.

"When we introduced the A380 in June 2010 we had, for the first months, 100% technical dispatch reliability," Lufthansa says. "So we are working very close with Boeing to make sure the 747-8 performance is matching the A380 performance." There are important differences between the two examples. The first A380 entered service with Singapore Airlines nearly three years before the type made its debut in Germany.

Lufthansa will be inaugurating airline service with the 747-8I with only six months of in-flight service accumulated by a different version of the aircraft. The A380's first customers were unable to boast a perfect dispatch reliability rating in the first few months. Singapore Airlines reported dispatch reliability scores of 97-98%. Emirates, another early A380 customer, reported reliability of 96-97%. Airbus had guaranteed a 98.5% rating for the A380's debut.

Source: Flight International