This scene looks suspiciously similar to what the Paine field flight line looks like today – in late April, 2011 – but this is May of 1993, and the brand-new 747-400F is doing some ground testing here, in front of a slew of 747-400s bound for Asian airlines including Malaysian, ANA, China Airlines, EVA, and JAL. Today’s flight line gets you 747-8F’s bound for Cathay, Korean, and Air Bridge, so go figure.
1993 was a busy year for new types on the cover of Cargo Facts – The Airbus A340-200 was on our January cover, the 747-400F had May, the PS-90 powered Ilyushin IL-96M was featured in June, and an artist’s rendition of the 777-200 was seen in July.
Because the 747-400 passenger version came first and had been in production for nearly five years, the gestation of the 744F was relatively short – just over five months from first flight to EIS. Combis had been flying since 1989 with KLM.
The first 747-400F was built with Air France in mind, but ultimately the first aircraft, msn: 25632, was stored for two years and finally delivered to Cargolux on September 13, 1995. #25632 is now flying for UPS.
Cargolux became the first airline to put the 747-400F into service in November, 1993, with msn# 25866 (at the time LX-ICV). CargoLux has since operated 19 744’s (including two BCF’s) and is, as is well known, the launch customer for the 747-8F.