The International Civil Aviation Organization has ruled that Boeing’s new 250-foot-long 747-8 freighter will be able to fly at the same distances as the 747-400. It wasn’t a decision ICAO made lightly; the ruling came after numerous wake vortex experts pored over flight test and simulation data.
The team of experts, which encompassed personnel from Boeing, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation and the European Aviation Safety Agency, examined how the 747-8F departed, ascended to cruising altitudes and landed relative to other aircraft.
Based on these observations, the team wrote to ICAO member nations that, “The safety case supports the assertion that the Boeing 747-8 is safely categorized as ‘heavy.’ Consequently, the wake turbulence separation specified … for ‘heavy’ aircraft should be applied.”
Todd Zarfos, vice president of engineering for the 747 program, said the fact that the 747-8 will be able to operate at the same distances at its predecessor is a giant victory for the freighter.
“We did extensive testing to show that even though the 747-8 is longer, heavier and has a bigger wingspan than the 747-400, it does not create greater wake vortex effects,” Zarfos said in a statement. “That means that airports will be able to operate more efficiently and not have to slow down operations to accommodate this airplane.”
And accommodating the 747-8F is no small task. The FAA has been certifying airports to house the freighter prior to its September 19 delivery to launch customer Cargolux. Huntsville International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Miami International Airport are among the airports that have been given the green light.