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Unlike the last two first flight days, for the 787-8 and the 747-8f, today was bright and clear. The bright sunshine belies the temperature, however, which was only just above freezing. Hundreds of Boeing employees and media are parked on the burms between Paine’s main runway and the Boeing flight line as the 747-8i taxis out for takeoff.
After coming inland from the initial foray out to the western coast of Washington, the crew ventured to Mount Baker for some air-to-air photography. During the press conference Captain Feuenstein indicated that they had originally wanted to use “Mount Boeing” – presumably Mount Rainier – but Rainier was covered in fog on Sunday.
The flight ended with an approach from the south and west and an initially very nose-high descent.
Slowing to a halt after landing at Boeing Field, the 747-8i shows off the GeNX thrust reversers, raked wing tips, double slotted inboard flaps, and Krueger flaps.
At the press conference, 747-8 program manager Elizabeth Lund revealed that tomorrow, March 21, will be Joe Sutter’s 90th birthday. Sutter is known as “the father of the 747” for his extremely significant role in the 747’s original design. As soon as pilots Feuerstein and Stemer had descended from the aircraft, they immediately conversed with Sutter.
Left to right: Stemer, Sutter, Feuerstein.
“This is a great day for the 747-8 team and for all of Boeing. What an honor it is to see such a beautiful airplane fly.”
Elizabeth Lund, vice president and general manager of the 747-8 program, spoke briefly about the flight and it’s impact on Boeing’s customers. She also noted that the second 747-8 Intercontinental, the first aircraft bound for an actual airline (Lufthansa, the first 747-8i will go to a VIP Business Jet customer) will join RC001 within a couple of weeks.
The test program will continue with the second flight (and continuing tests) coming as soon as later this week.
During the post-flight press conference, Capt. Mark Feuerstein (center) noted that the 747-8i has greatly benefitted from the development lessons learned in the -8f program, noting that the aircraft “is actually ready to fly right now” and noting that 747-400 crews would have little difficulty transitioning to the new plane.
During the test flight, Capt. Feuerstein and his colleague Capt. Paul Stemer (acting as first officer) put the plane through it’s pace with directional and stability tests as well as a series of controlled stalls at as little as 105 knots. In all of today’s tests, Feuerstein indicated that the aircraft had performed easily and predictably.
One interesting test noted in the press conference was the “steady heading side slip” in which directional control is maintained by rolling while the rudder is put into a fairly extreme angle, essentially flying the plane in a straight line while sideways.
Following the press conference, it was right back to work for Feuerstein and Stemer, for extended post-flight debriefing.
Left to right: Elizabeth Lund, 747 program manager, Capt. Mark Feuerstein, Capt. Paul Stemer.