MIAMI — Boeing delivers 50th Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental and Lufthansa adds Miami 747-8I Service, its 3rd destination in the US.

Boeing celebrated the 50th delivery of a 747-8 on May 29, 2013. Lufthansa, the launch customer of the passenger version, took delivery of the milestone aircraft almost one year after the June 1, 2012,  first revenue flight of the 747-8 Intercontinental. It is the airline’s seventh 747-8 and its 82nd 747 dating back to the 100 series. The German carrier has a total of 20 747-8 I’s on order.

Boeing's 50th 747-8, a 747-8 Intercontinental for Lufthansa D-ABYI at the new Boeing Delivery Center at Everett. (Credits: Boeing)
Boeing’s 50th 747-8, a 747-8 Intercontinental for Lufthansa D-ABYI at the new Boeing Delivery Center at Everett. (Credits: Boeing)
Lufthansa's first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental prepares to depart from Boeing's Everett assembly factory on May 1, 2012. (Credits: Auhor)
Lufthansa’s first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental prepares to depart from Boeing’s Everett assembly factory on May 1, 2012. (Credits: Auhor)

“Lufthansa is very proud to have the next Boeing 747-8 entering our fleet – almost exactly one year after the launch flight from Frankfurt to Washington, DC,” said Nico Buchholz, Executive Vice President Fleet Management, Lufthansa. “After one year of operation and now seven aircraft in the fleet, the aircraft has proven and delivered the excellent economical and ecological performance. We are very happy with the reliable operation of the 747-8.” Another milestone came today as Lufthansa opened its third US Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental route, Miami which followed the opening of Los Angeles in January and the Washington D.C. Dulles inaugural route last June. The 747-8, which has a 362-seat configuration, will initially operate twice weekly (Thursdays and Fridays) from Miami. LH will use 747-400 equipment the rest of the week until they receive additional 747-8 Intercontinentals. Chicago will be the next 747-8I destination in the US for Lufthansa beginning by 3rd quarter 2013.

Lufthansa served a commemorative cake onboard the June 1, 2012 747-8 Inaugural. (Credits: Author)
Lufthansa served a commemorative cake onboard the June 1, 2012 747-8 Inaugural. (Credits: Author)

Lufthansa's first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental into a stormy Miami arrived a day ahead of schedule of the official launch on Tuesday May 29, 20. (Credits: Michael Montero)
Lufthansa’s first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental into a stormy Miami arrived a day ahead of schedule of the official launch on Tuesday May 29, 20. (Credits: Michael Montero)
 (Credits: Michael Montero)
(Credits: Michael Montero)
 (Credits: Michael Montero)
(Credits: Michael Montero)

Schedule reliability, an industry measure of departure from the gate within 15 minutes of scheduled time, is 98.8 percent for the 747-8 fleet. Though excessive fuel burn and weight have reportedly been an issue with early aircraft, the reliability is above par.

Despite the announcement, the 747-8 program as with its competing VLA (Very Large Airplane) program, the Airbus A380 have not met sales expectations. Last month, Boeing slowed production to 1.75 747-8s per month. The airplane is seen as a niche aircraft, particularly attractive to cargo operators though this has slowed as well. However, the upcoming 777-X is perceived more of a threat to the iconic 747 then is the Airbus competitor. With the design stage complete, VP/GM of the 747-8 program Elizabeth Lund transferred over to run the 777 and upcoming 777-X program. Boeing remains publicly optimistic however. “This delivery is not only an important milestone for the 747-8 program, but it sets the stage for our future,” said Eric Lindblad, vice president and general manager, 747 program. “We will be building and delivering the 747-8 for decades to come.”

Lufthansa's Boeing 747-8I arrives at Miami on Thursday May 30, 2013. It's first official day of service at Miami and enjoys a water cannon salute before blocking into the 3 jetbridge gate at J-17. (Credits: Author)
Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-8I arrives at Miami on Thursday May 30, 2013. It’s first official day of service at Miami and enjoys a water cannon salute before blocking into the 3 jetbridge gate at J-17. (Credits: Michael Montero)
(Credits: Michael Montero)
(Credits: Michael Montero)
Credits: Michael Montero)
Credits: Michael Montero)

Boeing delivered the first 747-8 Intercontinental to Lufthansa in April 2012. The airplane entered service on June 1, 2012 with a flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Washington, D.C. Cargolux Airlines took delivery of the first 747-8 Freighter in Oct. 2011. To date, 35 Freighters and 15 Intercontinentals, including eight of the Boeing Business Jet version, have been delivered. Korean Air, the next scheduled new airline operator has 5 on order and Air China has 5 on order with 2 more pending government approval. Beside a tenuous tentative order by Nigeria’s Arik Air, There are no other passenger airline orders at this time, with the Air China order in March , 2011 being the most recent firm order. Numerous campaigns are ongoing with Cathay Pacific being the most rumored next customer, but thus far their orders have been confined to the 747-8 Freighters.

The Boeing 747 first flew in 1969 and entered service in January, 1970 with Pan Am. By September 2012, 1,448 aircraft had been built, with 81 of the 747-8 variants remaining on order.

(Credits: Author)
(Credits: Author)
(Credits: Author)
(Credits: Author)