We all know and respect the Boeing 747 range and specially the big 747 400 and 400ER, but when Boeing announced the 747-8 series, it left many wondering. With the existing 747’s and now with the advent of the formidable Airbus A380 the experts around the world failed to calculate if there was any need for yet another biggie in the very limited and somewhat saturated Super Jumbo Jet market. So now let’s analyze why Boeing is still hoping so high about the 747-8 and what makes it so special.
Boeing 747-8 is an evolution from the 747 400 series which takes many inspirations from the revolutionary 787 Dreamliner range and adds on them, in fact the “8” in the name 747-8 denotes the contribution of the 7”8”7 Dreamliner towards the new 747. Boeing 747-8 is planned to debut in two versions, the passenger version incarnated the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental and the cargo version the 747-8 Freighter, though it was initially decided that the passenger version will be shorter than the freighter, eventually the decision was overruled.
747-8 is actually a stretched by 5.6 m, the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental has a great seating capacity and it seats 467 passengers in three-class configuration and it has a non stop range of 8000 Nautical Miles. It uses the existing series of engines from the 747-400 range and further refines and upgrades them for very low noise, highly economic performance and ultra low emissions.
If compared to the 747-400, 747-8 is 16 percent more fuel efficient, will cost 10 percent lesser per seat, per mile, and has room for 26 percent more cargo. Compared to the Airbus A380, the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental has better operating economics, consumes 11 percent lesser fuel per passenger than the Airbus A380 and is also 10 percent lighter per seat than the 555 seat present market leader.
Apart from these the biggest advantage that the 747-8 will have over the A380 is the fact that it can easily operate with the existing infrastructure and technical ground equipments at majority of the airports internationally. Also as the Boeing 747-8 is very similar to the previous 747’s on the structural and behavioral ends, very little or no extra training will be required for the ground staffs, this is one area for which the Airbus A380 had to face many difficulties for its huge proportions.
For the Interiors, the 747-8 borrows heavily from its smaller sibling the 787 Dreamliner with curved overhead bins giving a feel as if the floor is attached to it. On the whole the passenger experience will be refreshingly new, with cabin lighting features so signify a sunset, dawn or a starry night. Amongst the innovations from the 747-400, the inside staircase design is new and now it’s curved and positioned near door 2 i.e. in front.
Also the crown area is now designed to accommodate cabins for the pilots and crews which previously was used for air conditioning machineries. On the whole with highly innovative construction using carbon fiber reinforced materials and an entirely new advanced wing design ( both inspired from the 787 Dreamliner ), the new 747-8 Intercontinental has come new age and the competition including the A380 better watch out, as far low market viability is concerned, Aren’t Boeing known for creating their own market ? Just have a look at the Boeing 787 3, if you still have a doubt.