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FAA gives nod to Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted Boeing an amended type certificate (ATC) for its 747-8 Intercontinental, the largest passenger aircraft in its history and the third Boeing commercial aircraft certified in 2011.

The certification validates that the 467-seat 747-8I complies with all aviation regulatory requirements and Boeing's production system is capable of manufacturing a conforming design that is safe and reliable. The ATC clears the way for the first 747-8I to be delivered to a VIP completion centre early next year.

The European Aviation Safety Agency is expected to follow the FAA's approval on 15 December.

Boeing completed certification flight testing on 31 October.

The General Electric GEnx-2B-powered 747-8I joins the 787 and 747-8 freighter in Boeing's stable of certified products, both achieving US regulatory validation in August.

The 747-8I's certification comes approximately after two years of delays incurred by its freighter sibling, which entered service in October, following supply chain issues, design changes and flight test discoveries that slowed the development of both models. The delays to the 747-8F, as well as the 787 slowed the 747-8I's development, pushing it a year beyond its original late-2010 first delivery target.

Boeing holds firm orders for 38 747-8 passenger aircraft, including nine VIP configured aircraft and 20 for airline launch customer Lufthansa, which expects its first 386-seat aircraft in the first quarter of 2012. Arik Air and Korean Air hold orders for two and five, respectively. 

Air China, which announced an order for five 747-8I aircraft in March, is currently pending Chinese government approval, while Hong Kong Airlines is believed to be responsible for an undisclosed customer order for 15 aircraft announced at June's Paris air show, but have not yet been firmed by the carrier.

The aircraft, the largest passenger aircraft ever built by Boeing, features a 442t (975,000lb) maximum takeoff weight and a nose-to-tail length of 76.3m (250ft 2in) and a wingspan of 68.5m (224ft 7in).

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