1st Boeing 747-8 Freighter flight set

By Michelle Dunlop Herald Writer

EVERETT — The Boeing Co. could fly its new 747-8 Freighter as soon as Monday, the company said Wednesday.

The jumbo jet’s flight date hinges on several preflight tests, including high-speed taxi testing. Those tests are scheduled to take place in the next few days. The 747-8 Freighter could take off from Everett’s Paine Field at 10 a.m., Feb. 8, if the preflight tests go well.

Boeing’s updated jumbo jet features a new wing design and improved engines. The company says its 747-8 will be about 16 percent more fuel efficient than the 747-400s currently in service.

The company will introduce the cargo version of its 747-8 before the passenger plane debuts. Boeing has won 76 orders for its 747-8 Freighter and orders for 32 of the 747-8 passenger plane, dubbed the Intercontinental. The passenger plane can be configured for up to 467 passengers, 51 more than the 747-400.

The company plans to deliver the first 747-8 Freighter late in 2010, nearly a year behind schedule. Delays in Boeing’s 787 program prevented the company from transferring engineers earlier to the 747-8 program. Its passenger plane will be delivered in late 2011.

Boeing will Web cast live the first flight of its 747-8 on its Web site: www.747-8firstflight.com. The Web site is scheduled to be active 24 hours before the scheduled flight.