Boeing is intensifying its efforts to secure a launch customer for the passenger version of the 747-8, following the manufacturer’s decision to standardise on the freighter version’s longer stretch.
Boeing denies that it has settled on the 76.3m (250ft)-long body length of the 747-8F for the -8 Intercontinental passenger variant, but industry sources have told Flight International the manufacturer has decided to develop the two models with the same fuselage length.
Boeing briefed Asian carriers on the 747-8’s latest specification last month during an update meeting in Hong Kong, as part of its efforts to add passenger airlines to its growing list of cargo customers (Flight International, 22-28 August. Additional orders for the freighter are imminent, say sources, but the manufacturer is now redoubling its efforts in the airline sector with Korean Air and Qantas seen as among the leading candidates to place launch orders.
Boeing says the original 74.1m-long version of the -8I offering additional range is still very much alive. The airframer says that data indicating a definitive shift towards the stretched aircraft revealed in a new airport planning guide was a “preliminary document. We didn’t make any official ‘roll-out’ because we haven’t confirmed the final length, and we are still definitely having discussions with the airlines about it.” Boeing adds: “We are not going to build two -Intercontinental sizes. The length will be determined either at firm configuration [due in mid- to late 2007], or when the first customer makes an order at a certain length.”
The potential launch customers at the Hong Kong meeting showed that “some are more interested in capacity and some are more interested in range – and that’s what the question is coming down to”. Boeing adds that “although the range impact is only a couple of hundred miles, that can be important for some of the airlines”.
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