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One year ago this week, Boeing’s first 747-8 freighter took to the skies over Everett for its maiden flight.
Pat Shanahan, Vice President of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said “I didn’t think anything could be more beautiful than the 787, but this is such a beautiful airplane, a big airplane,” after watching the 747-8 freighter’s first flight.
On Feb. 8 last year, Boeing’s 747-8 Freighter took off from Paine Field and returned to the Everett airport three hours and 39 minutes later. Since that first flight, Boeing’s 747-8 program has added four test planes to help move the freighter closer to certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. The 747-8 freighter flight test program is two-thirds complete, Jim McNerney, Boeing’s CEO, told media members during the company’s earnings call in late January.
Following the freighter’s first flight last February, the 747-8 program had its share of disappointments. In September, Boeing pushed back the first delivery of the freighter to mid-2011 from late 2010. The first 747-8 passenger plane will be delivered by year’s end.
Orders for the 747-8 have been scarce in recent years. From 2008 through 2010, Boeing received a total of four net orders for its 747-8 program. Altogether, the 747-8 program has won 107 orders since its 2005 launch.
Still, “I think it’s a promising aircraft,” said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group, in an interview in late January.
Although the 747-8 passenger plane has just 33 orders, Boeing’s Nicole Piasecki, Vice President of business development, said in an interview late last year that she felt confident about the future of the 747-8 passenger plane. “We think heads will turn when that airplane starts to fly,” she said.