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.
If you want on or off my aerospace ping list, please contact me by Freep mail.
The current CEO of Airbust said that not a single order for the new 747 will happen this year.
He's like the guy from the fedex commercial who thinks you get "french" benefits.
It's like the B52. It's never gonna die. What a testament to the engineers of the 1960s.
"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?"
Makes sense to me....
Joe Sutter: father of the 747:
I think it's likely that Qantas is seriously looking at buying 5-6 747-8I's to fly between Sydney and Dallas and possibly from Sydney all the way to Johannesberg in South Africa.
They're going to sell a good number of them..
Roke or Puking Dog do know what caused that crash. Also any word out yet on the South West 737 that skidded of the runway this winter.
To think that there was no CAD/CAM back then. They basically designed it with sliderules.
Why stop at that number. DFW is American's largest hub and is just one stop away from most cities east of the Mississippi. QANTAS could divert much of the North American traffic that currently requires two connecting flights to DFW and require just one connecting flight. DFW has a brand new international terminal that is mostly empty. LAX is very close to capacity. If the DFW-SYD flight works out, why not add a DFW-MEL flight? With the addtional range, MEL-SFO should be easy.
If it ain't Boeing, I ain't going!
The military has the B-52 on it's books ( correct me if I am wrong ) up until 2040.
I'll take that as a compliment!
(Mechanical Systems Staff, Landing Gear Mechanism and Control Systems, 747 project.)
The only restriction on flights between SYD and JNB is ETOPS - a 747-400 could fly that route today if they were so inclined.