8 February 2010: At 12:39 p.m. PST (20:39 UTC), the prototype Boeing 747–8F advanced freighter, N747EX, took off from Paine Field’s Runway 34L. Chief Pilot Mark G. Feuerstein and Senior Engineering Test Pilot Captain Tom Imrich were on the flight deck. The prototype’s call sign was “Boeing 501 Experimental Heavy.”
Almost a completely redesigned airplane, the 747-8F incorporates a stretched fuselage; a more flexible wing with increased span, new airfoils, and raked tips; more powerful and efficient engines; and fly-by-wire systems similar to those of the Boeing 787 airliner. The freighter has two cargo decks and the nose can open for easy access to the cargo bays.
During the 3 hour, 39 minute flight, N747EX reached an altitude of 17,000 feet (5,182 meters) and a maximum speed of 230 knots (265 miles per hour/426 kilometers per hour). The prototype landed back at PAE at 4:18 p.m. PST (00:18 UTC). Mark Feuerstein said, “The airplane performed as expected and handled just like a 747-400.”
N747EX was one of three new freighters used during the fourteen month flight test and certification program. Most of these flights took place at Moses Lake, Washington, and Palmdale, California. the three -8Fs flew more than 3,400 hours. The Federal Aviation Administration type certificate was approved 19 August 2011.
N747EX is designated as a 747–8R7F, serial number 35808. It is a very large, swept wing, commercial cargo transport powered by four engines. The minimum flight crew consists of a pilot and co-pilot, though on long flights there may be six or more pilots aboard. The 747-8F is 250 feet, 2 inches (76.251 meters) long, with a wingspan of 224 feet, 5 inches (68.402 meters), and overall height of 63 feet, 6 inches (19.355 meters). The length is an 18 foot, 4 inch (5.588 meters) stretch over the previous 747-400. The cargo decks have a volume of 30,288 cubic feet (858 cubic meters).
The new freighter has an empty weight of 434,600 pounds (197,131 kilograms). The Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) is 987,000 pounds (447,696 kilograms). The payload is 303,700 pounds (137,756 kilograms).
The –8 is powered by four General Electric GENx-2B67 high bypass turbofans. These are dual-rotor, axial flow engines with a single fan stage; 13-stage compressor section (3 low-pressure and 10 high-pressure stages); and an 8-stage turbine (2 high- and 6 low-pressure stages. The fan has a diameter of 104.7 inches (2.66 meters). Each engine weighs 12,396 pounds (5,623 kilograms) and produces 66,500 pounds of thrust (295.8 kilonewtons).
The cruise speed of the 747-8F is Mach 0.845. Its maximum speed, VMO, is 365 knots (KCAS) (676 kilometers per hour). The maximum Mach number, MMO, is 0.9 Mach. The freighter’s maximum operating altitude is 42,100 feet (12,832 meters).
The airplane has a maximum fuel capacity 63,034 U.S. gallons (238,610 liters), giving it a range of 4,390 nautical miles (5,052 statute miles/8,130 kilometers).
N747EX was de-registered 23 May 2012 and exported to Luxembourg for CargoLux. It was re-registered LX-VCA, and given the name City of Vianden
The 747 first flew 9 February 1969. As of December 2020, 1,562 have been built. On 12 January 2021, Boeing announced that the final 747s, four Boeing 747-8F freighters, had been ordered by Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc. The final Boeing 747, N632UP, made its first flight on 4 January 2022. The production of the “jumbo jet” has come to a close.
© 2022, Bryan R. Swopes