Ten Years Ago The Boeing 747-8I Made Its Debut

In February 2011, the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental was revealed. The plane is the last passenger variant of Queen of the Skies and was met with a standing ovation when it made its debut.

Lufthansa Boeing 747-830 D-ABYT
Lufthansa continues to fly the 747-8I on long-haul missions. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The Boeing 747-8I performed its first flight on March 20th, 2011, and was introduced with Lufthansa on June 1st, 2012. The flag carrier of Germany first flew the aircraft to Washington, D.C. from Frankfurt. Even though this was the first commercial service with the Intercontinental variant, the freighter version, the 747-8F was introduced with Cargolux on October 12th, 2011.

High hopes

In the year of the 747-8’s reveal, Boeing was excited to promote the benefits to be had with the aircraft. Along with an abundance of space, the company emphasized the efficiency advantages when compared with the Airbus A380.

“The new 747-8 Intercontinental carries 467 passengers in a three-class configuration. The airplane features a new wing design and an upgraded flight deck. The airplane interior incorporates features from the 787 Dreamliner including a new curved, upswept architecture that will give passengers a greater sense of space and comfort, while adding more room for personal belongings. The architecture will be accentuated by lighting technology that provides smooth transitions for a more restful flight,” Boeing said in a 2011 press release seen by Simple Flying.

“Using 787-technology GEnx-2B engines, the airplane will be quieter, produce lower emissions and achieve better fuel economy than any competing jetliner. The 747-8 Intercontinental is more than 10 percent lighter per seat than the Airbus A380 and consumes 11 percent less fuel per passenger. That translates into a trip-cost reduction of 21 percent and a seat-mile cost reduction of more than 6 percent compared to the A380.”

Korean Air 747-8I
Only a handful of commercial carriers took delivery of the 747-8I. Photo: Boeing

New uses

Boeing highlighted the 10-year milestone on its Twitter today. The manufacturer also noted that the plane will have the honor of becoming the new Air Force One, following on from its predecessors.

Two modified 747-200 aircraft currently fulfill the role of being the US president’s jet transport. This will soon change with a pair of new 747-8s under development. Former president Barack Obama ordered these units. However, it will be Joe Biden that will debut the aircraft.

A new era

Passenger 747s are increasingly disappearing from airports and the skies across the globe. Airlines have been phasing out the type in favor of more cost-effective, modern options. Moreover, only three commercial airlines operate the 747-8I. These carriers are Lufthansa, Korean Air, and Air China. However, with the 747-8’s future is secured as a presidential jet, and cargo specialists still seeing success with the 747-8F and others in the 747 family, it is great to see that the jumbo will still have a prominent role going forward.

747-8 launch
Last year, Boeing announced that it will cease production of the 747 in 2022, marking the end of a five-decade journey. Photo: Getty Images

The sight of the 747’s distinguished hump invokes feelings of familiarity and nostalgia. So, the appearance of one will always be welcome by aviation enthusiasts around the world.

What are your thoughts about the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental? How has your experience been when flying on the model over the last decade? Let us know what you think of the aircraft in the comment section.