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PICTURE: Boeing 747-8 chief pilot prepares for first flight

Boeing is in final preparations for the first flight of the 747-8 Freighter which will flown by 747 chief pilot Mark Feuerstein and the senior test pilot Tom Imrich.

Feuerstein, pictured on the flightdeck of a 747-8F, will captain the first flight. He was at the controls of the first 747-8F (RC501) yesterday as it underwent some final rigorous tests as the new Jumbo is prepared to fly. These closed-loop "gauntlet" tests trick the systems into believing the aircraft is flying, and test the responses.

With over 7,000 flying hours, Feuerstein was previously assistant chief pilot for both the 747 and 787 programmes and has also served as Boeing's deputy military/special projects pilot. This saw him flight-testing various military derivatives of commercial aircraft such as the KC/RC-135, E-6 and E-767.

747 chief pilot Mark Feuerstein, Boeing
 © Boeing
Chief pilot Mark Feuerstein on the flightdeck of a 747-8F 

Imrich will be co-pilot for the first flight and has a vast amount of 747 experience. He has flown the original "747 Ship 1" - now in Seattle's Museum of Flight - and during his time with the US Federal Aviation Administration issued the first type-rating for the 747-400, in 1988. He was also co-pilot for the production flight-testing of the final 747-400 (line no 1,419), early last year.

Once gauntlet tests are complete, RC501 will be prepared for taxi tests and then its first flight, which could take place before the end of January. The test programme will involve three 747-8Fs and the bulk of the flying will be operated from Palmdale in California. Certification and first delivery to Cargolux is due before year-end.

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