Behind the Scenes Tour of a 747-8 and the Boeing Factory
NYCAviation was on the scene when Boeing offered a rare media tour of the second brand-new 747-8F. The event began with a trip via bus down the flightline, where several 787’s and a few 777’s were within a stone’s throw away in various stages of completion.
We hung a left at the south gate, and rolled on down through another part of the flightline passing several more brand new shiny Boeings. Then, off to the right, Boeing’s new giant appeared: bathed in beautiful late afternoon sunlight the second 748F sat in her stall, airstairs pulled up, waiting for us to step on in.
The bus rolled to a stop, the doors opened and we stepped out onto the tarmac, admiring the new queen of skies towering in front of us. As a considerable line had already begun to form at the stairs, it seemed more prudent to first take a walk around this behemoth, admiring its sheer size and framing up a few shots. The aircraft was still an active work zone: mechanics climbed into and out of gear bays and were seen working on the wings and engines as we strolled about. Speaking of engines, it is probably needless to say that they are enormous – especially in comparison the powerplants on the current -400 models. The new wing, another immediately noticeable feature, is graceful and elegant with its raked tip.
Once the waiting line petered out, it was time to board. Climbing the airstairs gave a good appreciation for how high the body of the aircraft sits off the ground, and we weren’t even at the top. Once entering the aircraft through the forward door, it appeared to be, well, a cargo aircraft. The interior was pretty close to being finished, and seemed more on track for final touches than major work left to be done.
It was even fitted with cargo – though not exactly of the normal type. As part of the test program RC502 has been armed to the teeth with a dizzying array of test equipment.
Multiple flight engineer stations, computers, and water tanks filled the main deck front to back. Unfortunately we were not afforded the opportunity to visit the almighty flightdeck or upper cabin due to workers currently installing parts and performing tests. The walk-through lasted about five minutes total, and was an unusual opportunity indeed!
Descending another set of stairs through the aft cargo door, we were back on the ground and making our way back to the bus when they towed the third 748F past the assembled crowd. It was so close and large that a 10mm lens could not fit the entire aircraft in the frame, and the giant wing hung over us by several feet. After a skilled team of Boeing employee’s repositioned the jumbo into the stall next to us, we re-boarded the buses and made our way back to the grassy knoll to witness the first landing!