By Alex Hawkes
With customers including Emirates, Cargolux and Lufthansa, Boeing's 747-8 aircraft has proved a popular choice amongst international airlines, states Randy Tinseth, vice president of sales, marketing and in-service support for the 747-8 programme.
When did Boeing actually launch its 747-8 programme?
Boeing launched its 747-8 programme back in November 2005, featuring an intercontinental passenger and freighter version. During the launch, we had firm orders for ten of the freighters from Cargolux, which will receive its first deliver in the third quarter of 2009. It has since placed a follow-on order for another three freighters. Also during the launch, Japan's Nippon Cargo Airlines ordered eight of the freighters, with the first delivery scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2009.
How did Boeing identify market demand for the 747-8 aircraft?
We invested a lot of time studying the market feasibility of a new 747, working with operators to establish their requirements for a larger 747 aircraft. By working with customers and applying the innovative new technologies of the 787 Dreamliner, Boeing was able to create the 747-8 family of aircraft.
How have plans for the aircraft proceeded since its launch?
In terms of sales, we experienced a particularly good year in 2006. The programme now has 87 orders for both the freighter and passenger versions combined. Boeing also made a number of accomplishments last year in terms of bringing this product to the market and delivering to customers on time.
So the complete list of suppliers and partners for the 747-8 programme has already been chosen by Boeing?
Yes, most of the suppliers and partners have been identified for the programme. The next step is finishing the design, which also includes working with the programme's interior design partners.
What are the operational advantages for airlines purchasing the 747-8?
Both versions of the 747-8, whether passenger or freighter, will allow operators to maximise their profitability. Seat-mile costs for the 747-8 intercontinental are 10% lower than the 747-400, with nearly equivalent trip costs. The intercontinental is also 10% lighter per seat than the A380 and consumes 10% less fuel per passenger. That translates into a trip-cost reduction of 19% and a seat-mile cost reduction of over 3% compared to the A380.
Do you think the A380 delays experienced by Airbus will benefit Boeing in terms of increased sales for the 747-8 aircraft?
I think Boeing has to focus on delivering on commitments and doing our job efficiently. These are the most important factors for Boeing to continue its success. We will let our competitors do what they are doing.
What are your future sales predictions for this family of aircraft?
In the long term, we predict international demand for the 747-8 to reach 990 airplanes over the next 20 years. The freighter version will cover one third of this estimate, while the passenger version will cover the remaining two thirds.
Do you think the Middle East will play an influential role in terms of airlines purchasing the 747-8?
If we look at the Middle East region specifically, our forecast suggests there will be demand for airplanes of this size, for both the passenger and aircraft versions, over the next 20 years. I believe the Middle East is a good market for the 747s.
Can you provide some details on the Emirates order for the 747-8?
Emirates finalised its order for ten of the 747-8 freighters in October 2006. We're confident the order will help the company to further expand its freight carrying capabilities. It will receive its first delivery in 2010.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.