Having taken on a new registration several weeks ago, a 10 year old Boeing 747-8 has taken its first significant flight in its entire lifespan. On November 6th, MSN 37826 took an eight-and-a-half-hour flight to Hamburg in Germany, marking the first time it has left US soil since its construction. We take a look at where this aircraft has been, and where it’s going next.
The unwanted 747-8
Back in 2011, Boeing was building a fleet of new technology 747-8s for German airline Lufthansa. The airline had ordered 20 of the type, set to be delivered between 2012 and 2015, as passenger carriers. But Boeing needed a test aircraft and requested that one remain in the United States for flight testing and demonstrations.
Lufthansa obliged, and MSN 37826 never did go to Germany. It had been painted in basic Lufthansa color scheme and was due to take on the registration D-ABYE, but instead was given US registration N828BA. Although Boeing retained it, the 747 hadn’t undertaken much flying at all, until now.
Back in 2015, N828BA was noted by BOEFamilyFlights as taking six test flights from Paine Field, the last of which landed at Pinal Airpark. After a couple of years on the ground there, it returned to Paine Field in 2017. It undertook another test flight in early 2018, but was then ferried to Victorville for long term storage.
N828BA departing Paine Field on a test flight with the FAA pic.twitter.com/R1Bx5aQ9by
— Paine Airport (@mattcawby) April 27, 2015
Since 2018, this relatively new 747-8 has languished in the desert with no home to go to. It looked to be a sad ending for the jumbo as the world fell out of love with the quadjet configuration. But then, earlier this year, Boeing booked an order for a single 747-8 from an unnamed customer. The aircraft in question was this very one.
Going to Egypt
As revealed in September, the aircraft has been allocated a new registration number. MSN 37826 now sports the registration SU-EGY, an Egyptian designator. The plane is set to become Egypt’s new presidential transport, replacing its aging Airbus A340, but will require some modifications before it can go to its new home.
N828BA – Boeing 747-8i returns to PAE from storage at VCV. I wasn't sure if we would ever see a pax 747 here again. pic.twitter.com/G1NxovCiAU
— Chris Lee (@propandkerosene) August 22, 2021
According to flight tracking service RadarBox.com, the 747-8 was ferried from Victorville to Paine Field on August 22nd. Since then, it has undertaken three test flights, two in late September and one in October. BOEFamilyFlights notes that it was ‘delivered on contract’ on November 6th, which is the same date this Queen got to spread its wings for the first time in a decade.
At just after 15:00 Pacific Time on November 6th, the 747 took off from Everett, headed east. It was in the skies for eight and a half hours before it touched down at Hamburg in Germany. Although Germany was supposed to be its original home, it won’t be staying there permanently.
— NiclasHCO (@NiclasHCO) November 7, 2021
It’s still set to go to Egypt, but will be spending some time with Lufthansa Technik in advance of its arrival. Depending on how much technology Egypt wants to pack into the 747, it could be there weeks, months or even years before it’s ready.
When it does head to Egypt, the Egyptian government will be joining the ranks of China and the United States, which have also ordered up 747-8s as VIP governmental transport. With so much space on board, Egypt could go for some interesting features inside. Whether they ever reveal details of those to the public remains to be seen.