The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Boeing 747-800 information and other observations

Just a quick post and a break from the usual rants lately involving Obunglercare and the other political shenanigans happening on DC on the Potomac,

 I went camping with the cub scouts and ran the BB range for them this weekend.  I just came back and had to get some stuff handled then get ready for work tonight.  I figured I would post pics and information of my favorite airplane.  I shamelessly cribbed this stuff off "Aviation News"

October 18, 2013
Credit: Boeing
Facing weakened demand for big passenger and freight aircraft, Boeing has opted to reduce the 747-8 production rate from 1.75 aircraft per month to 1.5 through 2015.
The move comes as the company passes the half way point of its accumulated order backlog for the aircraft, the vast majority of which are for the freighter model. To date, the 747-8 has accumulated 107 orders, 56 of which have been delivered.
The sustained slow down in the cargo market is the main reason for the cutback, even though Boeing’s market forecast calls for long-term average growth in the air cargo market to begin returning in 2014. Overall the company forecasts global demand for 760 large aircraft in the 747-8 and Airbus A380 category over the next 20 years, valued at $280 billion.
Boeing’s outlook for the 747-8 market could also be impacted by the development of the 777X, which is expected to enter service at the turn of the decade. For the moment Eric Lindblad, vice president and general manager, 747 Program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes says “this production adjustment better aligns us with near-term demand while stabilizing our production flow. Although we are making a small adjustment to our production rate, it doesn’t change our confidence in the 747-8 or our commitment to the program.”

May 21, 2013
Credit: General Electric
Boeing has begun flight tests of a 747-8 passenger model powered by upgraded General Electric GEnx-2B engines, which are expected to improve fuel burn by a further 1.8%.
The flight tests, using RC021, an aircraft formerly destined for Lufthansa, began on May 20 with a four-hour flight from Everett, Wash. The flight evaluated the initial performance of the GEnx-2B Performance Improvement Package (PIP), as well as upgrades to the flight management computer (FMC) software. These latter changes—incorporated as FMC 3.0—will add improved required navigation performance and “quiet climb” functionality.
The FMC changes also are related to the activation of the aircraft’s horizontal tail fuel tank, the design and operation of which will also be validated in the test program. The 3,300-gal. tailplane fuel tank, which is a feature only in the passenger version, was de-activated before the first aircraft entered service when analysis indicated that, under certain fuel load circumstances, the tail tank could induce flutter.
Re-activation of the tail fuel tank will provide added range and improve the aircraft’s performance says Lufthansa, the launch customer of the 747-8. The extra weight of the fuel in the aft of the aircraft can be used to assist in trimming the 747-8 to lower cruise drag. As a result, the airline asked Boeing to make minor software changes to the fuel transfer system which would extend the length of time the fuel remains in the aft tank, thereby increasing the trim benefit.
Boeing says that as a result of the latest batch of enhancements—plus other upgrades introduced since the aircraft entered service in 2011—it will have produced a combined 3.3% improvement in efficiency. Eric Lindblad, vice president and general manager of the 747 program, says the 1.8% fuel-burn improvement from the package now under test will save airlines “approximately $1 million per year in fuel per airplane and reduces the carbon footprint.”
To combat the original GEnx-2B’s fuel-burn shortfall of more than 2%, GE designed an all-new low-pressure turbine, and added compressor, combustor and turbine improvements derived from the second batch of upgrades devised for the GEnx-1B engine on the 787.
Flight tests of the -2B PIP were conducted on GE’s 747 flying testbed earlier this year, and a final round of ground tests are nearing completion with FAR Part 33 certification expected by mid-year.
Boeing says the new configuration will first be delivered in early 2014 and be available for retrofit. Entry into service of the new engines and FMC software will take place in late 2013. The test aircraft, originally destined to be Lufthansa’s fifth 747-8, will be used for flight testing throughout 2013 and refurbished for onward sale in 2014, either as a standard airliner or for a possible business jet modification.

December 20, 2012
Credit: Joe Walker
Lufthansa and Boeing have agreed that a 747-8 previously allocated for delivery to the airline will now become a dedicated test aircraft for a set of airframe, system and engine improvements due for delivery in late 2013.
The aircraft, Line Number 1435, first flew in April 2011 but has already been used for some upgrade testing and will now continue in this role rather than be refurbished for Lufthansa. The move, which was triggered by the need to flight test a revised tail fuel system for activation on later aircraft, means that Lufthansa’s firm order book backlog reduces from 20 to 19, though the airline hints that this may only be a temporary reduction.
Lufthansa is still scheduled to take five 747-8s as planned in 2013, and 10 more aircraft by the end of 2015 that will incorporate the lighter structure and improved systems and engines. The airline currently has four 747-8s in service.
Explaining the decision, the German carrier’s 747-8 chief pilot Elmar Boje says the extensive flight test modifications already made to the aircraft would mean that, even after post-test refurbishment, the unit would be a non-standard “white elephant” in the Lufthansa fleet. However, he adds the airline’s long-range fleet group is due to decide on adding additional aircraft by the third quarter of 2013, some of which could include 747-8s.
Although the decision effectively shrinks Boeing’s overall 747-8 backlog to 71, the manufacturer is putting a brave face on the move because a variety of upgrade testing, including the General Electric GEnx-2B performance improvement package (PIP), can now be bundled into one dedicated certification effort. “The plan was to use a 747-8F freighter for the PIP flight test, but when we de-activated the tail fuel we needed an -8 Intercontinental” to flight test the revised system, says 747 vice president and general manager Elizabeth Lund. “That’s when we started our conversation with Lufthansa.”
The aircraft, originally destined to be Lufthansa’s fifth 747-8, will be used for flight testing throughout 2013 and refurbished for onward sale in 2014 as either a standard airliner or for possible business jet modification.
“Lufthansa opted to take a new aircraft instead in 2014,” says Lund. “So as a result, we had to pull this one out and delay delivery to next year. Lufthansa reserves the right to add another at the end. We asked to use it, and it was already instrumented for tail fuel testing. So all in all it’s a good business decision by them,” she adds.
Improvements to be tested next year are concentrated on the upgraded engine configuration and tail tank fuel system, though also include updates to the flight management computer (FMC) to incorporate additional required navigation performance features and a ‘quiet climb’ function.

The FMC 3.0 load is scheduled for the end of 2013


  1. Interesting 'behind the scenes' look... Friend that works at Boeing is 'proud' of the fact he works on "Metal" airplanes, not the composite ones... LOL

  2. Hey Old NFO;

    I did work on the Airbus and now work on Boeing 757's. The 747 to me is an iconic airplane and earned everybit of it. I am hoping that Delta will buy a couple of them to replace the older 400 series we fly. But Delta likes the 777 better.

  3. MrG, heard that... Personally 'I' don't like flying on Airbus platforms... I know enough about them that they make me nervous... Especially the autopilot and the way it drives the tail all over the place to try to 'stabilize' the airplane.

    1. Hey Old NFO;

      The reason for that is that the origional design was so "clean" that it was creating delamination issues with the trailing edge of the elevators and rudders. So the computer generates a micro adjustment of the tabs to "dirty" up the profile a bit to prevent the delamination of the composites used on the airplane. Only way you would know if you happen to be monitoring the flight computer and see it doing it. To the average pilot, they will never know about it from the handling.

  4. You're right, but go stand in the tail sometime and it is constantly moving!!! Scared the crap out of me... And that is NOT the right way to fix the problem, the right way would be to fix the delam issues...

  5. Hey Old NFO;

    I do agree, I am just an airplane mechanic, I don't build them...Just fix them. Who knows ..perhaps they will fix that issue with the next generation?