Boeing goes long with new 747-8 jetwww.STLtoday.com
February 14, 2011
EVERETT, Wash. -- Eighteen feet.
That may not sound like much. But it’s the length added to Boeing’s newest version of its 747 jumbo jet - the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental commercial passenger jet - unveiled here Sunday as a crowd of several thousand people waved red and white thundersticks to the blare of rock music.
The added length, 18.3 feet to be precise, makes the 747-8 the longest jetliner in the world.
The new Intercontinental has other distinguishing features: Its tell-tale hump, which covers double-deck seating inside, stretches 13.3 feet longer than before. Its re-designed wings, which begin near the base of the fuselage and sweep upward as they slope away from the cabin, give it the appearance of a soaring bird.
The redesigned plane gives passengers larger windows to look out and reconfigured overhead storage bins to hold more bags than before.
But Boeing’s “stretch” version of the 747 is not so much about size as important strategic objectives for the company.
It’s about trying to keep Boeing, which introduced the word “jumbo jet” into aviation lexicon with its first 747 more than 40 years ago, in the game of manufacturing the world’s biggest class of passenger jets against competition from European rival Airbus and its giant A380.
“There’s no question that we were coming to a decision that it was either going to be close or near the end of the line for the airplane or we had to figure out something new,” says Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
The Intercontinental’s debut also represents Boeing’s bid to re-establish itself as the world’s pre-eminent maker of passenger jets at a time its prestige has been dented by its struggles to deliver its break-through jet: the revolutionary 787 Dreamliner that’s made mostly from lightweight composites.
And it comes as the U.S. aircraft manufacturer faces competition not just from Airbus but from other parts of the world.
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