US – The continuing story of the development of Boeing’s new 747-8 Freighter aircraft took a major step forward this week with the successful landing at Paine Field in Everett, Washington of two of the aircraft following completion of the planes’ certification flight test program. Flight test airplane RC522 completed testing of the flight management computer and RC523 completed function & reliability testing, meaning the first of the giant cargo carriers is on schedule for its delivery to specialist freight airline Cargolux in September, after certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The 747-8 Freighter has flown more than 1,200 flights and 3,400 hours since its first flight Feb. 8, 2010. During that time, the five-airplane test fleet was used to gather data for more than 1,700 FAA certification requirements. Boeing tested the capabilities of these airplanes far beyond what they are expected to encounter in normal service. Tests concluded with F&R testing, a final phase in which an airplane must accrue 300 FAA-approved flight hours in its final delivery configuration.
Tests included dragging the airplane's tail on a runway to test its takeoff performance, throwing it into stalls to see how it would handle such an emergency, slamming on the brakes while travelling at over 200 miles per hour to simulate the ultimate rejected takeoff and pushing the jet to almost the speed of sound.
The 747-8 Freighter is the new high-capacity 747 which Boeing is confident will give cargo operators the lowest operating costs and best economics of any freighter airplane while providing enhanced environmental performance. It is 18 feet and 4 inches (5.6 m) longer than the 747-400 Freighter and this extra length provides customers with 16 percent more revenue cargo volume compared to its predecessor. That translates to four additional main-deck pallets and three additional lower-hold pallets. The 747-8 Freighters will be powered with GE's GEnx-2B engines. 747 Chief Pilot Mark Feuerstein said after the trials:
"My team and I had the pleasure of spending hundreds of hours in these airplanes. We can truly say this airplane is a joy to fly, and our customers are going to love it. It flies like a 747, but one from the 21st century."
You can see a video of the 747-8 in action HERE.