Video: new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental being put together

With all the recent news of the Boeing Dreamliner, you’d be forgiven if you failed to notice another new Boeing jetliner taking shape. The new 747-8 Intercontinental is the latest version of one of the most popular planes in the world.

The 747-8 takes the basic concept of the 747 we all know, and borrows technology from the Dreamliner. In the redesign, the new 747 will carry 51 more passengers and 26% more cargo, flying on more efficient engines. A total of 142 747-8’s have already been ordered, and the first ones should take to the skies in late 2011.

When you hear that the very first 747 flew for the first time back in January 1970, you’ll realize what an important role the Jumbo has played in shaping the aviation world. Even though almost every aspect of the technology inside this plane has changed in those 40 years, the basic outline has remained the same, and everyone can recognize a 747 when they spot one.

So, watch this video, and see how the Boeing engineers take pieces of plane, and slot them together like a kids toy.

The final days of a Boeing 747 – from king of the skies to a pile of rubbish

The Daily Mail has an interesting article on the final resting place of a Boeing 747. The Jumbo had been in service for 35 years and covered over 55 million miles but took its final trip to Cotswald airport in the UK.

In just two days, experts from Air Salvage International turned the mighty beast into a pile of twisted metal. The owners of the jet (Dubai Air Wing) first made sure that anything of value was removed from the plane, and all parts taken out will be tested to see if they are in good enough condition to be resold as spares.

The final job of this 747 was probably its most interesting one – transporting horses around the world. The plane was one of just a few dedicated horse carriers, flying the four footers to major equestrian events. In the final photo of the article, you see the small pile of debris which was once a 747 – and once flew British Airways passengers around the world.

Boeing and Air New Zealand to Test 2nd Generation Biofuel

Boeing has announced that it will carry out tests of a new “2nd generation” biofuel using one of its 747s. The plane,owned by Air New Zealand will take off on December 13th. Because it is the first live test, only one of the plane’s 4 engines will use the fuel, made from the nuts of jatropha plants (pictured).

Jatropha is an inedible plant that is indigenous to Central America and the Caribbean, but grows in most of the warm weather regions of the world. Unlike earlier biofuel sources, which were grown on arable farmland, jatropha grows well in areas that cannot be used for agriculture. Its use, therefore, will not affect food prices or food supply.

The fuel is made by extracting the oil from the nuts of the plant. UOP, whose parent company is Honeywell, is responsible for producing the jatropha-fuel. According to Boeing, UOP’s production was “the world’s first large-scale production run of a commercially viable and sustainable biofuel for aviation use.” The biofuel will be mixed with regular jet fuel for the December 13th test.

[Via The Register]

Jumbo Jets Disappearing from the Sky

Jumbo jets, like Boeing’s classic 747, are a bit like that Buick your grandpa used to drive. They are sizable enough that you don’t have to concern yourself too much with what is going on outside. What’s a little turbulence to such a massive beast? What’s a six hour flight when you can stand up and actually walk around? (I was a little kid last time I rode in “the boat,” but you get the analogy).

High fuel prices have been grounding more and more of these large aircraft. And those who fly frequently are none to happy about it. Aside from a smoother ride, larger aircraft offer more seating options, more lavatories and more overhead space. If you are flying from New York to L.A. or Atlanta to Seattle, a little extra room can make a big difference.

Among major carriers, American and Delta still offer the most jumbo jet flights at more than 50 per day. However, wide-bodied planes are nowhere to be found on Northwest‘s and Continental‘s domestic routes. According to the industry, large aircraft will account for less that 1% of air traffic by the end of this year.

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