Boeing will hand over its first 747-8 freighter to launch customer Cargolux on September 19. Accommodating the 250-foot-long, wide-body aircraft is no small task, which is why the Federal Aviation Administration is certifying airports to house the freighter prior to its arrival.
Following its September 19 acquisition of the freighter, Cargolux will immediately put the aircraft into service. The Luxembourg-based cargo carrier will receive a subsequent 747-8F on September 21, the second of the 13 freighters it ordered.
It’s a procurement that Elizabeth Lund, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s 747 program, said has been a long time coming. “As launch customer, Cargolux has been closely involved in establishing the requirements for a larger aircraft with significantly enhanced capabilities and has offered valuable insight throughout the various stages of design and development,” she said in a statement
Industry reports initially pegged the first of the 747-8F deliveries for as early as September 7. The aircraft deliveries will be met with much fanfare, as Boeing hosts a September 20 celebration at its Everett, Wash.-based headquarters.
Cargolux President and CEO Frank Reimen believes the freighter will boost company operations tremendously. “This aircraft sets new standards in efficiency,” he said in a statement. “It features greater fuel economy, the lowest operating costs of any large freighter, and boasts a significantly improved environmental performance. Clearly, the 747-8F will be the cornerstone of our growth and profitability for the next decades and a genuine industry game-changer.”
The freighter might also be a game-changer for Huntsville International Airport (HSV), which recently received FAA certification to house it. The Alabama-based airport, which features 10,000-foot and 12,600-foot runways, has the capacity to accommodate the large-body aircraft, FAA officials recently said.
“As the home to U.S.-based flight operations for freight forwarder Panalpina, HSV will now be in a position to facilitate the 747-8 freighter,” the airport’s Executive Director Rick Tucker stated. After all, he explained, “Panalpina’s charter operators, Atlas and Cargolux, will be among the first to take inventory of this transportation Goliath.”
In addition to Huntsville International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Miami International Airport are also among the 21 airports that have been given the green light to accommodate the 747-8F.