Forty five years (and a few months) after the first flight of the 747, Boeing marked a milestone for the program on Saturday when Lufthansa took delivery of 747 #1,500. The German carrier was the launch customer for the 747-8 Intercontinental, which we first brought to you on Cargo Facts back in February of 2012. The new aircraft (D-ABYP, msn: 37839) is Lufthansa’s 14th of the type. In recognition of the event, the pilots on board the aircraft did a low pass at about 40 meters over runway 16L at Paine Field, during which the photo above was taken.
The majority of orders for the 747-8 have come on the freighter side, but five carriers have committed to the 747-8i – Lufthansa (with 13 aircraft already delivered), Air China, Korean Air, Transaero, and Arik Air of Nigeria. Air China’s first 747-8i has been rolled out but has yet to be painted. The first aircraft for Korean Air is expected later this year. The -8i has also seen several VIP/Business jet customers. With competition from Boeing’s own 777-300ER (and upcoming 777-X) beneath it and the Airbus A380 above it, the 747-8i is in an appreciably narrower niche than its predecessors. Interestingly, two of the 747-8i customers are also A380 operators (Lufthansa and Korean Air) and one more has the A380 on order (Transaero) as well.
The delivery of #1,500 is just the latest milestone for the long-lived program, coming…
– three years after the first delivery of 747-8 (msn: 35806) – a freighter for Cargolux;
– 21 years after the delivery of #1,000 (msn: 27068), originally delivered as a passenger plane to Singapore Airlines but now flying with Southern Air as a 747-400BCF;
– 33 years after the delivery of #500 (msn: 22381) – a 747-200B delivered to SAS as a Combi which later became a freighter for UPS;
– 44.5 years after the first delivery of a 747 (msn: 19640, the fourth 747 built), to Pan Am on December 12, 1969. Much later, this aircraft flew as a converted freighter for Evergreen.
Lufthansa was also the launch customer for the original 747-200 Freighter (msn: 20373) built in 1971 and delivered on March 9, 1972 after certification.
© Photographer: Alex Kwanten