Boeing today announced the first passenger-carrying 747-8 Intercontinental has entered the last stage of the assembly process.
"We now have the first real look at the size and distinctive shape of the 747-8 Intercontinental," says Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager of airplane programmes.
The step called final body join, which mates the fuselage and the wing, for the stretched 747-8I shows the aircraft is making progress in assembly slightly faster than the smaller freighter version.
Boeing workers started joining the fuselage and wing of the 747-8I about a month after the final assembly began on the forward fuselage. The 747-8F needed six weeks after forward fuselage assembly began to move to final body join last year.
The 747-8I, which features a 5.6m (18ft-4in) plug to accommodate 51 more seats in three-class configuration, is scheduled to be delivered in late 2011. The delivery schedule for the passenger version was not affected by a recently announced delay for the freighter programme, Boeing says.
First flight for the 747-8I could occur within seven months if the programme's history is any guide. The 747-8F moved from starting final body join in late June, 2009, to first flight on 8 February, or about seven and a half months.
Eight VIP customers and two airlines - Lufthansa and Korean Air - have ordered a total of 33 747-8Is.