Boeing Co., the world’s second-largest airplane manufacturer, handed over its first passenger 747-8 Intercontinental to a secret VIP customer who is having the aircraft modified into a “jewel of the sky”.
The buyer, who is unnamed, is thought to be from either the ruling families of Qatar or the United Arab Emirates or the royal family of Kuwait.
The 747-8 left Paine Field in Everett, Washington, for Boeing's Global Transport and Executive Systems in Wichita, Kansas, where it will spend six months having its interior installed. It will then be moved to Hamburg, Germany, where it will spend an additional two years having dining rooms, galleys and bedrooms outfitted to the customer’s specifications.
The 747-8 will have a 4,786-square-foot cabin and can carry 100 passengers. Plus, an Aeroloft – a 400-square-foot sleeping area – will be installed in Wichita.
An unmodified 747-8 can hold 467 passengers and sells for $332.9 million. So far only 36 have been ordered, the majority of which were purchased by German airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG.
Production Delayed 12 Months
Delays are not uncommon in the aerospace industry, and Boeing is already 12 months behind its delivery schedule. In addition, the 747-8 is estimated to be as much as 10 tons overweight, and the aircraft’s General Electric GEnX engines have been described as being fuel-thirsty.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes Marketing Vice-President Randy Tinseth told Reuters: "As with all new airplanes, we have certainly had our challenges with weight. We are working on reducing these and improving the capabilities."
According to a Boeing spokesperson, the 747-8 is performing 1% better than expected, and is on track to meet catalogue commitments by 2014.
Aircraft that are heavier than planned cost operators money. Payloads must be reduced or the range the aircraft can be flown must be cut back.
Key Statistics - Global Aerospace and Defense Industry (source: MarketLine)
- In 2010, the aerospace & defense market global had revenue totaling $1.1 billion. This represents, for the time period 2006-2010, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.6%.
- The market is predicted to decelerate until 2015 and should then be worth $1.2 billion.
- In 2010, the market's most lucrative segment was defense with over 74% of the market share and revenue totaling more than $791 billion.