Lufthansa debuts first 747-8 passenger jumbo jet
German flag carrier Lufthansa readied its first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental to fly to Frankfurt after a delivery ceremony in Everett.
Seattle Times aerospace reporter
Boeing's largest passenger jet debuted Tuesday at a delivery ceremony in Everett as German flag carrier Lufthansa readied its first 747-8 Intercontinental to fly to Frankfurt. The new jet will enter passenger service June 1 with a flight from Frankfurt to Washington, D.C.
Though the original 747 first flew more than 43 years ago, Nico Buchholz, Lufthansa's executive vice president in charge of fleet management, emphasized the plane's newness: A new wing and new engines make it more fuel efficient and quieter; a new 787-style interior provides a sense of space and light for passengers.
"It's even beyond up-to-date," said Buchholz at the ceremony. "It's highly sophisticated."
The father of the 747 and lead engineer at the program's inception, 91-year-old Joe Sutter, was there to celebrate this latest iteration of his original design.
"We finally got it right," he quipped to a reporter. "We felt we had a vehicle that was good for the future. It turned out that way."
The plane's interior styling features high ceilings, LED lighting and a spiral staircase to an all-business-class upper deck.
Lufthansa's spacious cabin layout seats just 358 passengers, compared with Boeing's much denser standard layout, a 467-passenger configuration. This first jet has eight first-class seats, 92 business-class, and 258 economy.
The jet has the same 100 premium seats as Lufthansa's larger Airbus A380 double-decker jets. The airline will use that superjumbo on routes more popular with tourists, such as New York and San Francisco, deploying the Boeing jumbo jet on routes with more business travelers.
This year, Lufthansa plans to take five of the planes, introducing them on flights out of Frankfurt to Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago, then Delhi and Bangalore in India.
The first jet's business-class seats are a new premium product for the airline, featuring lie-flat beds oriented so that two neighboring seats are angled toward each other converging at the feet.
In economy class, the lower part of the seat is designed so that even though the seat tops are a standard 31 inches apart, a 6-foot-tall passenger has about a 3-inch gap between his knees and the seat in front.
One of the new features of the airplane is a flight system that adjusts for wind gusts to give a smoother ride.
Elizabeth Lund, 747 vice president and program manager, said Boeing had confirmed the system's efficacy in flight tests — and not only by using high-tech measuring equipment: The test crew installed in the cockpit a bobblehead doll of chief 747 pilot Mark Feuerstein, and watched it stay still in flight.
It's the third "first delivery" for the 747-8. The first freighter version was delivered in October to Cargolux after last-minute disputes over compensation for delays and performance. In February, the first passenger version was delivered to an undisclosed VIP customer, thought to be a ruling family in the Middle East.
Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information in this article, originally published May 1, 2012 was corrected May 3. A previous version misspelled the last name of chief 747 pilot Mark Feuerstein.