Boeing has completed the first flight testing a package of performance improvements for its new wide-body jet, the B747-8.
The aircraft took off on Tuesday for a four-hour flight in the skies above Seattle, testing a series of measured aimed at improving the aircraft’s fuel-efficiency. These include enhanced GE engines. Boeing’s test pilot, Captain Kirk Vining, said he was impressed with the performance.
“It was a great flight and the engines performed as expected,” he said. “This is an important milestone for the flight test programme.”
The Performance Improvement Package (PIP) includes improvements to the GEnx-2B engines and flight computer software, with the overall aim of making the B747-8 1.8% more fuel-efficient than at present. This follows a 1.5% improvement since the first aircraft was delivered less than two years ago.
“These improvements are a part of our commitment to continually improve our great airplanes for our customers,” said Eric Lindblad, vice president and general manager of the B747 programme. “Improving fuel efficiency by another 1.8% saves the airlines approximately one million dollars per year in fuel per airplane and reduces the carbon footprint.”
If all the tests are successful, the PIP will be introduced on to new B747-8 deliveries from early 2014. It will also be available as a retrofit for B747-8s already in service.
Sales of the B747-8 have been disappointing, with only 105 units ordered, including just 40 passenger versions.