Skip to comments.Boeing's Intercontinental flies into the limelight (747-8 Sydney to DFW)
Posted on 05/25/2006 8:53:37 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative
BOEING'S newest version of its 747 is turning heads at Qantas as the airline searches for solutions to reduce fuel costs while increasing the range capability of its fleet.
Qantas had been examining the Boeing 777-200LR, which can fly from London to Sydney with a payload of 250 passengers, but the return journey requires a fuel stop in Singapore for at least half the year because of headwinds.
According to Qantas sources, the 777 has been dropped from consideration.
Also on the airline's radar is Sydney-Dallas non-stop capability to link into alliance partner American Airlines' headquarters and largest hub.
Last week, Boeing advised Qantas that the latest wind-tunnel tests for its new 747-8 Intercontinental have shown that the aircraft would have greater range than originally thought and would be capable of flying Dallas-Sydney all year.
For Qantas, which is facing soaring fuel costs, the 747-8 would appear to be a good solution, offering more range capability while cutting fuel costs.
While the A380, which will start operations for Qantas in May next year, will replace some 747s, Qantas is not planning to replace its older 747-300s and -400s with A380s.
Boeing is promising a dramatic performance improvement with the 747-8 over earlier 747 models.
According to Jeff Peace, vice-president and program manager for 747, the "747-8 burns 40 per cent less fuel than the first 747 and is 30 per cent quieter than the 747-400s in service with Qantas".
Boeing marketing vice-president Randy Baseler says: "Why invest in an A380 (which Boeing claims involves 25 per cent higher trip costs) when the 747-8 will deliver 3 per cent lower seat-mile costs?"
The economics form a major part of the sales pitch and the new model has some significant advantages, says Baseler.
He claims the 747-8 "will burn 13 per cent less fuel per seat than a 416-seat 747-400 and 12 per cent less than a 542-seat A380" - figures that Airbus strongly disputes.
Key to that performance is the 66,500 pound thrust General Electric GEnx derived from the 787 program.
Aside from the dramatic fuel efficiency of the engine, Baseler says the key to the 747-8's fuel economy is structural efficiency, with "an operating empty weight of 985 pounds per passenger compared to 1161 pounds for the A380" making the A380 17.9 per cent heavier per seat.
He concedes that Airbus's own figures are lower but still 11.3 per cent heavier than the 747-8.
The A380 was designed from the outset to be stretched to carry up to 1000 passengers in an all-economy layout or 650 mixed-class, and thus carries extra weight and a large wing for that mission.
By comparison, the 747-8 wing and structure are optimised for its capability of 450-480 passengers in a mixed-class configuration.
While Baseler says that the A380 has an advantage with its all-new wing, he argues that Boeing is closing the gap with work from the 777 and 787 programs.
Jeff Peace adds that "while the 747-8 wing is (internally) structurally the same it is aerodynamically all new". The 747-8 has raked wingtips borrowed from the 777-300ER/-200LR program and now sports double-slotted inboard flaps and single-slotted outboard flaps.
The outboard wing has been re-lofted and the flap tracks and fairings redesigned.
Peace also says that Boeing is also looking at fly-by-wire control for a number of the 747-8's control surfaces.
Wheels, tires and brakes from the 777 complete the structural enhancements.
The 747-8 is the first fuselage stretch of the 747 - possibly a testament to the fact that the aircraft that ushered in the jumbo era was way too big in 1970.
Since then, airlines have expanded its capacity by shrinking the seating from nine across with 34 inch pitch to today's 10 across with 31/32 inch pitch, while Boeing tossed in a bit more room upstairs on the -300 and -400 versions.
Offsetting the squeeze in the back has been the trend in the last few years to add beds in both first and business class, cutting capacity in the front and driving a desire for more floor space.
To meet this demand, the 747-8 Intercontinental will have an 11.7ft stretch and the cargo model will be lengthened by 18.3ft. The passenger model will be able to carry up to 15 per cent more passengers and 21 per cent more cargo than the 747-400 and fly 1150 nautical miles (2127km) farther to 8300 nautical (15,355km). This gives it Dallas-Sydney, even London-Perth, capability.
Boeing has done considerable work on the interior which needed a facelift to bring it up to date with current design trends.
It will have an entry more like that of a cruise ship, with the staircase offset to the far side of the main-deck cabin.
The entry area also features a domed ceiling and a concierge station that doubles as a mini lounge during the flight.
From the 777 comes the sculptured interior that gives passengers 15 per cent more storage space, while those on the popular upper deck will get a 100 per cent increase in storage space.
Boeing is adding 777 windows to give a little more window area. The 747-8 will have LED mood lighting, lighter 787 interior components and 787 space-age toilets, and it will be e-enabled.
The currently vacant crown space in the 747 has come in for special attention, with the manufacturer proposing to use the area for beds, a business centre, or more likely storage for galley carts.
Boeing sees other advantages in the 747's layout. The aircraft has First Class in the nose area where the serenity cannot be compromised by boarding passengers, which leads to the industry saying: "only on the 747, First Class passengers always turn left".
That serenity is extremely important to airlines such as Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, which are all taking a long hard look at the 747-8.
Another plus for the 747 is the intimate upper deck, which is more like a private executive jet and is the first zone of business class to fill up.
The company expects the 747-8 to make its first flight in 2008.
It puts the market at 450 aircraft over the next 20 years, of which 300 will be freighters.
unfortunately outside of the freight community who likes the nose-loading capability, the 747-800 is only attracting minimal interest among mainstream airlines. The bottom line is at roughly the same price as the 777-300, the airlines would rather have the 777.
Delta abandoned DFW as a hub because it was far more expensive than hubbing in ATL.
QANTAS and American are both in the oneworld alliance. American has no interest in flying its own planes to Australia or New Zealand. They would be very happy to feed QANTAS's flights to DFW. They already do this to LAX.
DFW is too expensive an airport to opperate from unless you absolutely have to, most of the connections to be made can be made from Los Angeles - the only traffic that makes sense out of DFW is traffic terminating there, or connecting in the southeast.
I no longer work at the "Lazy 'B'," but, believe it or not, composits do not always result in lower weight. It all depends on what the structural considerations dictate.
As to adding volume for fuel - the plane has a "wet wing," which means that there are no tanks in the plane, per se. The first 747 model had a dry weight of some 360,000 pounds and could carry some 53,000 gallons of fuel, if need be.
That was utilizing a center main tank which was in the wing section right under the fuselage. The old bird had plenty of available volume for fuel, the limiting factor was weight. If it was completely full of fuel, there wasn't much carrying capacity left over for payload.
The DFW international terminal is really nice. I started using it as a quiet area last summer when it first opened.
Airbus Has A Bad Case Of Jet Lag.
I love the 747.
The hump is optimally shaped. If it were any longer it would cause more drag. Notice the hump ends just as the wings begin. That's why it minimizes drag.
learn something new every day.
Can't the 747-8 hold more passengers than a 777-300?
And I've heard that Quantas, Singapore, and JAL are very interested in the 747-8. The Japanese airlines especially don't like Airbust. They love Boeing planes.
The cargo version of the 747-8 has a lot of interest as well.
Actually, Singapore Airlines is watching how well the A380-800 does when it comes to still-air range at standard mean takeoff weight (MTOW). If the A380-800 can demonstrate the original 8,000 nautical mile still-air range at standard MTOW, then Singapore Airlines would end up buying more A380-800's than buying the 747-8I. However, the air cargo division of Singapore Airlines would definitely want to buy the 747-8F, though.
I believe that besides Qantas (which will use the 747-8I on the Sydney-Dallas and Sydney-Johannesberg routes), the primary customers will be Japan Airlines and British Airways, since both of these airlines are least affected by landing slot restrictions at their own home airports.
I am flying home tomorrow - then I will stay there.
They want longer flights?
I know very little about aviation. However, why couldn't tankers be used?
I would imagine Qantas would add, at most, two flights a day in and out of DFW. They would use existing gates at the new international terminal and would share ticketing and clubs with America.
I don't see the need for a significant build-out.