Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Club Just Got Bigger By One



The exclusive superjumbo (I hate that word, don't you?) airliner club just got a little larger as Boeing's newest remix on a well matured but certainly not obsolete theme took to the skies a few days ago.

The B747-8F flight test aircraft-which is a re-winged, re-engined, re-systemed and stretched 747-took wing the other day and it marks an important milestone, not the least of which is that it exists at all.

Offering a viable-although slightly smaller- alternative to the A380 is something that's sure to cause some sleepless nights in Toulouse. The mere fact of its existence creates pressure on Airbus and the A380 program that wasn't there a few days ago.

This iteration on a theme is reminiscent of Kaiser Bill's 'fleet in being', which was the idea that as long as the German Navy had a credible battle fleet capable of inflicting serious damage, it would keep the Royal Navy parked in Scapa Flow waiting for the sorties that almost never came.

Did I mention it can carry cargo? Yes, friends, the -8F can carry freight-lots of lovely freight that never complains about airport security or delays, doesn't demand in flight movies and free refills on the drinks, and rarely needs a blanket or an extra pillow.

And freight doesn't carry explosive underpants either.

Photo courtesy of Wired News.
Photo of SMS Posen courtesy of U.S. Navy

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