The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental (747-8i) has received just 51 orders, with 37 delivered through the end of October. (The 747-8F cargo version has done a bit better, with 60 deliveries and another eight on order.) In addition to eight aircraft delivered for use as business jets or for VIP customers, 30 have been delivered to airlines:
Attentive readers may wonder how 37 deliveries can add up to 38 aircraft. Korean Air's newest 747-8i, HL7633 (SN 40908 / LN 1525), was delivered less than two weeks ago, on 17 November 2015, and is not counted in Boeing's order report which is updated monthly.
Each airline flies the 787-8i solely from their primary hub: Lufthansa from Frankfurt, Air China from Beijing, and Korean Air from Seoul (Incheon). All three hubs are also served by another carrier with the 787-8i: Lufthansa and Korean Air fly between each other's hubs, making FRA-ICN the only route served by multiple carriers with the 787-8i, and Lufthansa flies the 747-8i to Air China's Beijing hub. Air China flies the shortest 747-8i route (PEK-SHA, just 580 nm) and the second longest 747-8i route (PEK-JFK; 5,942 nm) with only Lufthansa's FRA-EZE trip being longer at 6,192 nm. That is still less than 80% of the nominal 7,790-nm range of the 747-8i.
Curiously, the only other airport served by multiple 747-8i operators is San Francisco, served with the 747-8i by both Air China and Korean Air but not by Lufthansa, despite it being the West Coast hub of Lufthansa's Star Alliance-partner United Airlines. This oddity is easily explained: Lufthansa flies the even-larger Airbus A380 on the FRA-SFO route.
Two other airports in the United States also saw Lufthansa 747-8i service over the past few weeks. (These routes are not shown on the map.) On 21 November 2015, LH 430, a regularly-scheduled FRA-ORD flight, landed at Detroit, very likely a weather diversion due to a snowstorm at Chicago O'Hare. On the two previous days, Boston saw the 747-8i on flight LH 422 from Frankfurt, a flight normally flown with 747-400 aircraft suggesting an equipment substtitution for an out-of-service 747-400, or possibly a planned upgauge due to unusually high loads on the weekend before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.
Today's Featured Map illustrates the regular routes for the 787-8i over the past few weeks.
One other item of note is that this map uses a new sort of point: the midpoint of a path, in this case the midpoint between Frankfurt and Seoul. Are features like this one helpful additions?
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Karl L. Swartz.
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