New Airfreight Carrier Successfully Completes Testing

08/08/2011

Last week, the new Boeing 747-8 Freighter successfully completed the planes’ certification flight test program. The new airfreight carrier will give express transport cargo operators the lowest operating costs of any freighter airplane while also providing enhanced environmental performance. The key feature of the new 747 is its increased size over its predecessor. It measures 5.6m longer than the previous 747-400 Freighter and this extra length will provide customers with 16% more revenue cargo volume. This extra volume equates to four additional main-deck pallets and three additional lower hold pallets. Originally designed as a basic upgrade to the 747-400, the 747-8 is roughly 85% new, including all new engines, cockpit avionics, a redesigned wing and increased use of composite materials.

The 747-8 freighter has flown more than 1,200 flights over 3,400 hours since its first flight Feb. 8, 2010. During the testing, the five-airplane test fleet was used to gather data for more than 1700 U.S Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification requirements. The capabilities of the
airplanes were tested far beyond what would be expected in normal service. These tests included pushing the aircraft to almost the speed of sound, testing the aircraft’s takeoff performance by dragging its tail on a runway, simulating a rejected takeoff situation by breaking hard at 200 miles per hour and throwing it into stalls to see how it would handle such an emergency. A number of the tests are required in relation to the transport of dangerous and hazardous goods as well as other sensitive consignments. Flight test airplanes completed testing of the flight management computer and function and reliability testing. After certification from the FAA, the aircraft will remain well on course to meet its September launch date.

The final stage of testing involved a phase known as F&R testing in which an aircraft must accumulate 300 FAA approved flight hours in its final delivery configuration. Boeing has taken 76 orders for the Freighter, which lists for $319 million.

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.”