It’s April now, and that means it is theoretically spring in North America – but that didn’t stop an unexpected snow shower from erupting right as B-LJD (msn: 39241) returned from its first flight a few days ago. LJD is an early build 747-8F, and was stored for a time at Paine Field, but went into refurbishment some time ago and is now on the cusp of being delivered. B-LJC (msn: 39240), another early-build 747-8F for Cathay Pacific, is also in rework and should be doing test flights this spring – engines were recently hung on all four of LJC’s pylons. Delivery of these two aircraft will bring Cathay Pacific Cargo’s 747-8F fleet to ten total.
In other 747-8 news, today, Boeing announced that it will cut the production rate of the 747-8 to 1.75 airplanes per month from 2 airplanes per month, citing lower than expected demand for large passenger and cargo airplanes (at least in the near term). This is not a particularly significant decrease (3 aircraft per year), but it was notable enough for the company to issue a statement about the reduction. A total of 46 747-8s have been delivered (including BBJ and Passenger aircraft) with a backlog of 64 aircraft yet to be produced.
On the positive side, GE said earlier this week that testing was nearly concluded on the GEnx-1B PIP II package, for the 787’s version of the GEnx, and that certification of the GEnx-1B PIP II should be coming soon. GE will soon be shipping the third of four GEnx-2B PIP II engines to Boeing for evaluation in-situ on a 747-8 in the next few months. GEnx Program General Manager Chuck Nugent said, in an interview with Aviation Week that the engine maker had expected a 1.6% improvement on fuel burn with the upgraded -2B, and that “based on test data, we’re optimistic we will be at or better than that.”
© Photographer: Alex Kwanten