Boeing rolls out its 747-8 Intercontinental

EVERETT — Awesome.

That’s the word many people chose to describe the unveiling of the Boeing Co.’s new 747-8 passenger plane Sunday.

“I was shocked by the color, but I think it’s awesome,” said Monte Estey, a manufacturing engineer on the 747-8 program. Estey brought his son, Carter, who wants to be a pilot.

“You were thinking it was going to be a blue livery,” said Pat Shanahan, vice president of airplane programs, during the jumbo jet’s rollout Sunday. “My favorite color is Boeing blue.”

But the color that has epitomized Boeing wasn’t anywhere to be seen on its new 747-8 passenger plane, dubbed the Intercontinental.

Instead, a reddish-orange adorned the lower half of the iconic 747 — the jet that brought Boeing to Everett more than 40 years ago.

In breaking from Boeing blue, the company sought to underscore one point: This isn’t the same 747 of four decades ago.

The 747-8 Intercontinental is bigger than its predecessors, including the 747-400. But the new jumbo jet is both more fuel-efficient and can fly farther than the 747s that have come before it.

“I often say that great companies do great things,” said Jim Albaugh, president of Boeing’s commercial airplanes division. “What you’re going to see here this morning is another expression of greatness.”

If all goes as planned, the 747-8 passenger plane could make its first flight as early as next month. Boeing plans to deliver the first 747-8 Intercontinental by year’s end.

Germany’s Lufthansa is the launch airline for the passenger version of the 747-8. The carrier helped convince Boeing that an upgrade to its 747-400 was needed.

The new Intercontinental has lived up to Lufthansa’s expectations, said Nico Buchholz, executive vice president of Lufthansa’ fleet management program.

“I think the passengers will like it,” he said.

The 747-8 passenger plane got the approval of most of the 10,000 people on hand Sunday. Boeing hasn’t had a rollout event like the Intercontinental’s since introducing its 787 Dreamliner in 2007.

The company deferred engineering resources from the 747-8 to the 787, which struggled through numerous global supplier setbacks. Both jet programs have suffered several delays.

“While we’ve gone through struggles getting here, this is going to be an airplane that changes the world again,” Albaugh said.

Boeing’s original 747 jumbo jet is credited with making the world smaller by enabling people from different corners of the globe to see and ship goods to one another.

Joe Sutter, the original 747’s chief engineer and the man commonly referred to as the father of the 747, got the biggest applause at Sunday’s event.

“This building might not exist if not for Joe,” Albaugh said.

The jumbo jet is what brought Boeing to Everett more than 40 years ago. The men and women who worked to get that original 747 out the door have been called the Incredibles.

On Sunday, Boeing insisted its 747-8 passenger plane is “Incredible again.”

Boeing borrowed some of the Dreamliner’s technology for the 747-8, adding a new wing and engines as well as some passenger comforts. After the new plane’s unveiling, the 89-year-old Sutter told reporters that the 747-8’s quietness is one of his favorite features. Boeing has delivered 1,418 of the various versions of the jumbo jet.

After the unveiling, Aida Falloria of Mukilteo pointed admiringly at the row of rivets on the underside of the 747-8’s front fuselage section.

“I’m so proud of him,” Falloria said, of her husband’s work.

Adam Falloria is a machinist on the 747-8 program and has worked at Boeing for more than 20 years. However, Sunday’s rollout was the first for his wife, who has been at many Boeing family days.

“This one, I can touch,” she said. “I love the color.”

The colors red and orange signify prosperity, success and fortune, Boeing’s Shanahan said. Those are the qualities Boeing hopes the 747-8 Intercontinental will bring for Boeing and its customers, he said.

That success is due to the thousands of workers who showed up Sunday to admire Boeing’s new jumbo jet.

For the Kiesz family of Marysville, Sunday’s event was their first rollout of a new airplane. Tanya and husband Kelly Kiesz both have worked at Boeing for more than a decade. The couple brought their son, Daniel, to the 747-8’s unveiling.

“It’s awesome,” said Daniel Kiesz, 12. “It’s just a once-in-a-lifetime event.”

747-8 stats

Seats 467 passengers on average.

Flies up to 8,000 nautical miles.

Powered by four General Electric GEnx-2B67 engines.

Has a wingspan of 224 feet, 7 inches.

Is 63 feet, 6 inches tall.

Source: The Boeing Co.

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