Boeing (NYSE: BA) today celebrated the arrival of the first of three specially modified 747-400 passenger jets that will be used to transport the large composite sections and wings of the all-new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
SEATTLE, Wash. – The 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter (LCF) touched down at Seattle’s Boeing Field at 8:08 a.m. PDT, ending a non-stop, 13-hour, 17-minute flight from Taipei, Taiwan.
The LCF’s arrival in Seattle signals a new phase of the airplane’s flight test program, which began when the airplane made its first flight in Taipei on Sept. 9, 2006. Since then, the LCF successfully completed two additional flights, which demonstrated its airworthiness and ability to complete the ferry flight to Seattle.
“It was a beautiful flight,” said Capt. Joe MacDonald, 747 chief pilot. “The LCF is such an important part of Boeing’s business going forward.”
The LCF is a key element of the lean, global production system that is critical to the 787’s success. Flying the large components reduces shipping time to as little as one day from as many as 30. The fleet of three airplanes is being modified by Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corp. (EGAT) in Taipei.
The most significant change to the airplane is the new extended upper fuselage, which boosts the cargo capacity by volume to 65,000 cubic feet, more than three times the cargo capacity of a standard 747-400 freighter.
“This is one of the key milestones for the 787 program this year,” said Scott Strode, 787 vice president of Airplane Development and Production. “Many people said creating the LCF couldn’t be done, and others said it was possible, but not on such an aggressive schedule. The LCF’s arrival today comes less than 14 months after it entered the factory for modification. It’s a testament to the talent and dedication of our Boeing/EGAT team.”
The LCF’s flight test program is expected to last through the end of the year.
A fleet of three LCFs will ferry 787 assemblies between Nagoya, Japan, Grottaglie, Italy; Wichita, Kan. and Charleston, S.C., before flying them to the Boeing factory in Everett, Wash., for final assembly. The first two LCFs will enter service in early 2007; the third will follow later.
Since the 787 launch in April 2004, 32 customers have logged 420 orders and commitments, of which 377 are firm orders valued at $59 billion at current list prices, making the Dreamliner the most successful commercial airplane launch in history.