Boeing says a number of potential customers for the passenger Intercontinental version of its 747-8 have expressed an interest in using the 'SkyLoft' area in the crown of the main deck abover the economy cabin as a galley, but few seem convinced by the prospect of installing premium class 'SkySuites' cabins in the same space.

Speaking during a briefing today, 747-8 programme vice-president Dan Mooney said that several of airlines being courted by the airframer with the aircraft had factored in overhead galley into their plans, thus freeing up 12 seats on the main deck, taking the Boeing nominal passenger count to 479 passengers in three classes. However, no carrier has found commercial reasons to pursue the first class cabin concept touted by Boeing in its initial 747-8I publicity.

A video walk-through of  the entire aircraft including the overhead area is presented below (or follow this link if the video fails to appear).

The admission comes as Boeing refused to rule out definitively offering two fuselage lengths of the stretch. It says it has yet to commit fully to offering only a single fuselage length for the 747-8I, but indicates that the present demand strongly favours only a length matching that of the freighter.

The airframer is concentrating on a 220in (5.6m) stretch over the 747-400, having previously planned that the passenger version would incorporate a shorter 140in (3.5m) stretch.

Emirates has been among the carriers keen on the 140in stretch because of the additional range this shorter version offers. Mooney says that, although airline opinion on the longer stretch was “not unanimous”, the airframer was still setting the 220in-stretch version as the baseline model.

“We felt that the broader market placed a higher economic value on [increased capacity],” he says. “We felt that was a better trade, economics versus range.

“Some customers have challenging long-range missions – which made them prefer [the higher-range version]. But this is the current baseline.”

Boeing has yet to rule out offering both fuselage options to passenger carriers, but Mooney indicates that this is currently unlikely.

“It’s primarily a business decision, whether it makes sense to offer and develop two different configurations – does the market size justify that?” he says. “We like to minimise variability. Right now we think the right answer is ‘one’.”

Although the airframer has VIP customers for three passenger aircraft, it has not secured an airline launch customer for the type. Mooney says that the company could “potentially” have an order by the end of this year, but is backtracking on Boeing’s earlier confidence over sealing an agreement in that space of time.

He points out that the 747-8 has only been around for a year and that carriers have been “very engaged” in examining the mid-size Boeing 787 and 777 models, adding: “To some degree it’s a matter of time to evaluate where the 747-8 might fit into their strategy.”

Boeing has firmed the configuration of the 747-8 freighter version which will feature the 220in stretched fuselage.