An anomaly

HONG KONG - Hello from the Asian Aerospace International Expo, where our new Intercontinental made news this week after Air China announced it would become the first Chinese customer for the plane. When we started work on the 747-8, some people asked me if we ever considered naming it something other than 747. My answer was simple: how do you name anything that looks like that anything but a 747?

I remember some research that showed the most recognized flight vehicle in the world is the space shuttle, followed by the 747. Passengers have always loved its grace and elegance.


The 747-8 Intercontinental at its premiere.

As we get closer to the Intercontinental’s first flight, I wanted to share my thoughts on what makes this plane so special. It starts with a great experience for passengers. While the Intercontinental looks different on the outside with its new technology, it also looks different on the inside. It has two special areas that no other airplane has.

“Zone A” in the front of the plane has always been a favorite of passengers traveling in first class because of its peace and quiet. There are no stairs in front of it like the A380, so the aisle isn’t used by flight attendants or other passengers going back and forth. On the upper deck, you’ll still find a combination of privacy and exclusivity that can’t be matched. Top it off with architecture used on the Dreamliner including better lighting, bins, and bigger windows than the portholes the competition uses.


The 747-8’s stretched upper deck in business class configuration.

All the technology we added to the 747-8 Intercontinental makes the airplane do something that’s almost magical. It allows the new 747-8 to carry 50 more passengers than the 747-400 at no additional cost, giving it the lowest operating cost per passenger in the industry - as well as the smallest environmental footprint. Although painted in the Sunrise livery, it’s the new “green machine” both financially and environmentally. We have an airplane that’s been stretched with new technologies to be very optimal, while the competition has a sub-optimal plane that’s meant to be stretched.

Our redesign has also made for a spectacular wing. We have a newer generation engine on the Intercontinental that makes it more efficient than the A380. The deck and a half design of our plane compared to the two-deck design of the competition makes the Intercontinental weigh somewhere between 10 and 12 percent less per passenger. All of this adds up to nearly a double digit advantage in fuel burn per passenger.


The 747-8 Intercontinental rolls out of the factory in Everett.

When you think about it, the 747-8 is an anomaly. It goes to show that a smaller plane with an incredible heritage and newer technologies can still beat out a larger plane.

Check out the video below showing all the work that has to be done on the road to the Intercontinental’s first flight. Also check out our new First Flight website.

Comments (17)

James Stevenson (London, England):

Isn't the 747-8 Intercontinental's real competitor the 777-300ER, not the A380?

Kevin (Los Angeles, CA):

If you build it, they will buy.
If you fly it, they will buy more!

Vivant (Los angles):

when the A380 was built it was buitl with the aim of replacing the aging 747-400. So why can't the 747-8I not compete with the A380? Is it just because it is a double deck or because it takes more passengers?
The 747-8I is a great competitor vs the A380.

Tom (Germany):


"An anomaly" - you might be right:
- four engines
- small displays
- old cockpit design (the tankers get the 787 cockpit!)
- no standard HUDs (or?)
- no US customers (perhaps in the future?).

But I wouldn't call it an "anomaly" as long as it wasn't in the air and certified...
(The wings... aren't there some anomalies with the 747-8F...)
Numbers, numbers,... ,anomalies...

Jun Leido (Manila, Philippines):

The 747-8 Intercontinental. Incredible. Always.

I think the 747-8 Intercontinental is a class by itself. As we have softly agreed on, this airplane is NOT a direct competitor to the A380 - just because the equally outstanding airliner will be be good on several points, where contesting is not required.

One fight the fights that can be won. And the fights worth fighting.

On size - we have to cede this to Airbus. Just because Boeing's business case is that the market is not big enough for a many planes of such size. It was a business decision made with intelligent assumptions. Right or wrong? Only time can tell.

Admittedly, we were late on a newer VLA. This is why while the A380 was already a launch concept, ours was still a sales pitch. As we missed this opportunity, we gained a new ( and maybe better one ) in the 787. Here Airbus played catch-up with the A350.

Jun Leido (Manila, Philippines):

May I add my comment on the 747-8 Intercontinental competing with the 777-300ER.

I say no. Just because I think airline routes are decided by factors other on what brand of aircraft there is. The advent of point to point services has made flights " thinner " in a sense, since we are no longer putting more passengers, ultimately going to different destinations, into one plane. This was the concept 30 years ago, with the classic 747. It worked then. It's the same concept followed by the A380. Whether it still works today is only true in some routes.

Today, we have more passengers - 250 to 300 passengers - all flying into one place. This is where the 777-300ER excels. It's twin engine efficiencies are unbeatable. The 747-8I is optimized on routes where four engines can be better suited for full passenger and cargo load. Here, only the 747-8I and the A380 can compete. What Randy is saying above is simple - is you can fill a flight with 500++ passengers, then maybe you're better off with the Airbus jumbo. But if you are looking to fill flights of only 400-450 passengers, then the 8-I is the better aircraft.

Simon (The Netherlands):

Seeing a lot of potential for this one, as not every airline needs the extra capacity of an A380 and all the hassle it comes with, special parking bays and the hassle of boarding and de-boarding so many passengers. Let alone the 747-8 looks so much better!

EB (Paris, France):

Randy.....what was that you were saying about the games people play with the numbers?

It's a beautiful plane, and I'll always think it looks better than an A380, but the orders say it all. Whatever way we twist the statistics the A380 has more than 240 orders against less than 40 for the 747-8i.

The marketeers can play with the numbers all they want but what counts is orders and revenue.

Carl Gritzmaker (Atlanta):


I am surprized at comments as they don't represent as the person that I have met several times at Farnborough and Paris. The comments sound like sour grapes. Go back to being your old self.

Randy Tinseth:

The 747-8 Intercontinental was specifically designed to complement the 777-300ER in terms of seating, range, economics, and passenger appeal.

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):

That was fantastic news. Anyone care to see how Boeing built up 1,500+ orders for the 747? Go to the orders & deliveries page at, file a user report starting April 1966. Lot's & lot's of one-two orders. You may do so for other programmes too, with similar results. If it's good, the one-two orders add-up.

The 777-300ER has been & continues to be a massively impressive plane that will no doubt take many 747-400 positions - at the lower end of capacity requirements. It is quite the unique player in its category.

Regarding Sunrise & "green machine" both financially & environmentally, green fingers will have you know that the Sun is the largest source of energy in the Solar System. Our job here on Earth is figuring out a way to tap that limitless potential, which we see in the oceans - waves, sky - wind, and as a source of heat, light. I think green sounds about right.

Gary Gerfen (Fort Greely, Alaska):

I have had the pleasure of flying in all Boeing twin aisle airplanes (recent vintages of course) including the 767-400ER, 777-300ER, and the 747-400. Without a doubt the best ride for long haul services is the upper deck in the 747! Can't wait to fly in the 787 and the 747I. Really don't care about getting on an A380 whale.

Dan (France):

Ah yes, the wonder of the 747 upper deck. Who needs all that widebody space when you can travel in single aisle style. Lets hope the airlines cotton on to this, and start ordering the -8I.

Randy Tinseth:

Hi Carl,

Thanks for the feedback. I always try to take the high road but sometimes you just have to set the record straight.

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

A plane with graceful lines it is great to see. I look forward to seeing the 747 go through the pre flight gauntlet, perform taxi tests and make it's first flight. Congrats of the new order for the Intercontinental from Air China.

rsal (LA):

A beautiful plane, far better than the previous ones in all aspects, I am looking forward to fly it soon. No doubt it is far safer, much more economical than A380 & the twin planes for long trips.

greg (denver, co):

When is KLM, JAL, SAA, ANA, THAI, Qantas going to buy this beast! What about Delta and United?

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