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February 10, 2010

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Home » Business » Transport

Boeing's 747-8 flies a year later to success

BOEING Co's giant 747-8 freighter - the biggest plane the company has ever built - successfully completed its first flight on Monday, a year later than originally planned.

Boeing estimated that more than 5,000 employees, customers, suppliers and other airplane fans gathered to watch the plane take to the air from Everett's Paine Field for a three-hour flight. The flight came just one day short of the 41st anniversary of the first flight of the original 747 model.

At 76 meters long - more than twice the length of the Wright Brothers' first flight - the plane is about 5.5 meters longer than the existing 747-400 jumbo jet. The company conducted taxi tests on the freighter last Saturday, with the aircraft performing well, Boeing said.

"The airplane performed as expected and handled just like a 747-400," said 747 chief pilot Mark Feuerstein.

Monday's flight around western Washington state began a testing program that will involve more than 1,600 flight hours. As pilots checked basic handling and engine performance, the plane reached a cruising altitude of 5,180 meters and speeds as high as 425 kilometers per hour.

Boeing also is developing a passenger version of the plane. It lists 76 orders for the freighter and 32 for the 747-8 passenger jet, with the majority from overseas customers.

Boeing says the jets will be much quieter, more fuel efficient and have lower emissions than 747-400 models.

Boeing launched the freighter program on November 14, 2005, with firm orders for 10 planes from Cargolux of Luxembourg and eight from Nippon Cargo Airlines of Japan. The jet has a list price of more than US$301 million, though airlines commonly negotiate discounts.

After completing the program, the first freighter will be delivered to Cargolux.


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