Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Air China Takes Delivery of Its First 747-8 Intercontinental

By Brandon Farris / Published September 30th, 2014

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Air China  took delivery of its first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental Monday, becoming the second operator in the world of the passenger variant of the Boeing 747-8.

“Air China has been operating 747s since the 1980s,” said Song Zhiyong, president of Air China, “This iconic airplane has played an important role in Air China’s international development and has also witnessed many milestones of the reform and opening-up of China. We are very proud to introduce the new 747-8 into our fleet to continue its tradition into the future.”

Mr. Zhiyong, a certified 747 pilot, will fly the carrier’s new flagship aircraft home with one of his pilots. Coincidentally, the 747-8 will fly to China on the same day that the first 747 rolled out back in 1968.

With seven additional 747-8 aircraft on order, Air China will initially use the aircraft domestically in October for training purpose, before expanding internationally with service to Frankfurt, Los Angeles, and New York as they take delivery of more 747-8is. Service to Frankfurt will begin in January 2015, but exact dates for the latter routes have not been officially disclosed.

“We are extremely honored to partner with Air China to introduce the first 747-8 Intercontinental into Asia,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner, “The 747-8 Intercontinental will deliver improved operating economics, efficiency and environmental performance in support of Air China’s growing long-haul fleet. This historic delivery demonstrates the continuity of our long and enduring partnership with Air China.”

Air China has configured its 747-8i with 365 seats in a four-class configuration ( 12F / 54J / 66y+ / 233Y ). The premium economy cabin will feature 38 inches of seat pitch while the economy class will feature a 33 inches of pitch. Additionally, the first class suite will actually be located behind the flatbed business class seats as Air China feared the suites would be constrained by the narrow nose. The plane was not open for media tours and no photos were available from the carrier at the time of publish.

Sales of the 747-8i have been extremely disheartening for Boeing, causing the airframer to reduce production to 1.5 aircraft per month. However, Boeing executives are upbeat that  the type will win new orders soon. Korean Air will be the next airline to receive the Boeing 747-8i.

See below for additional photographs from the Air China event

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