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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lufthansa, Boeing, Debut 747-8 Intercontinental

By Woodrow Bellamy III

Lufthansa’s first commercial flight of its Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental touched down in Washington, D.C. last week with much fanfare as airline officials touted the aircraft's upgraded in-cabin amenities and potential operational efficiencies.

The $317 million aircraft features an upgraded exterior from its 747-400 predecessor, with raked wings and four GE GEnx-2B67 jet engines optimized for reduced fuel consumption. The 747-8 Intercontinental fuselage is 250 feet, 2 inches long, which is 18 feet, 4 inches longer than the 747-400, which provides Lufthansa with 26 percent more cargo volume.

Additional features include enhanced LED lighting, and a three-class configuration that can seat 362 passengers, starting with the eight business class seats that stretch out to full beds with privacy shields. The 747-8 is also equipped with Wi-Fi and personal TV monitors for every seat on the plane.

“We think that this probably, design-wise, is the most innovative aircraft of its time,” said Christoph Franz, CEO of Lufthansa. “Fifteen percent less fuel is not only a very important cost-saving issue, but at the same time it means 15 percent less carbon-dioxide emissions, and 30 percent quieter compared to its predecessor, the Boeing 747-400.”

Franz was joined at an event at Washington Dulles International Airport by Elizabeth Lund, vice president of the Boeing 747 program; John E. Potter, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority; and Francisco J. Sanchez, under secretary for International Trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Lufthansa has ordered 20 of the 747-8 Intercontinentals from Boeing, and both companies say the agreement will create more jobs. Lufthansa is expected to take delivery of five in total this year. The airline will roll-out service to gateways throughout the United States and India.

“Lufthansa’s order of 20 of these airplanes will generate billions of dollars in U.S. exports over the next three years,” said Sanchez. “And we estimate that this order will support more than 10,000 jobs for American workers.”

Lufthansa’s newest flagship aircraft will provide service between the Berlin and Washington initially six days a week (excluding Tuesdays), and will increase capacity on this route by 6.3 percent, the airline said.

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