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BOEING PROPOSES 747-400X QUIET LONGER RANGE

By Sebastian Steinke

More range, less noise. Boeing Vice President and head of the 747 programme, Jeff Peace, called FLUG REVUE direct to announce the latest Boeing headline from the Singapore Air Show: the 747-400XQLR, which will already be familiar to our readers under the working name of “747 Quiet” from the January issue, has made considerable progress since then.

Boeing 747-400XQLR

In Singapore, the American manufacturer inaugurated the offer phase for its latest version of the 747. Up to the middle of the year, according to Peace, the project will be presented to customers so that advance orders can be taken and any additional requests can be noted. As soon as Boeing has accumulated a number of serious customer enquiries (“We need fewer than twenty”) he plans to argue the case for an official programme launch to the Boeing board. First deliveries would then be possible in March 2004.

The 747-400XQLR has a number of new features which should make it attractive both to European airlines worried about noise emissions and also to Asian airlines with fixed range requirements. Maximum take-off weight is to be increased to 921,000lb so that the aircraft can accommodate more kerosene, while it will also incorporate a number of aerodynamic improvements on the wing. These include modifications to the trailing edge, known as “trailing edge wedges”. At the wingtips, state-of-the-art “raked wingtips” or tapered winglets will replace the classical winglets that have featured on the 747-400 up to now.

The engines are to be modified to incorporate sawtooth extensions and reduced-noise air inlets, among other changes, so as to be able to satisfy the most stringent noise standard in the world, the QC2 standard that is to be applied in the vicinity of London Heathrow in the future. The modifications are expected to produce a 20% reduction in noise emissions during the departure phase and as much as 40% on the approach and landing. A new Flight Management System (FMS) cockpit display will indicate to the pilots the path to follow to achieve an ultra-low-noise departure profile, although this will continue to be implemented manually. The automatic low-noise take-off discussed in the January edition of FLUG REVUE will not now be implemented on the jumbo jet until a major update of the FMS in 2005, according to Jeff Peace.

The operating costs of the new 747 are to be 2% lower while at the same time range is increased by 300nm. Boeing plans to only slightly increase the price tag of the new variant, in line with the enhanced performance offered.

Whereas the normal cabin capacity of the 747 is 416 passengers, an ultra-long-range version of the XQLR will be offered that is configured for 250 passengers and a range of 8000nm. For these flights, which could last up to 18 hours, seat pitch is to be raised in all classes, including even Economy. At the same time the Business Class area will be enlarged. However, future cabin options with extra sleeping compartments above the main deck will not yet be available for the XQLR, according to Peace. The XQLR is also to be offered in a freighter version.

Boeing is hoping to win customers for the 747-400XQLR from the Asian region who would like to fly non-stop to large parts of the USA from Singapore, Bangkok and elsewhere in south-east Asia. Combined with the improved environmental values, the XQLR, whose designation will shortly be dropping the “X” project code, could blossom into the future standard model among the major European airlines as well. When it comes to projected sales, Jeff Peace is cautious. For him the latest 747 is simply “an aircraft tailored to the requirements of our European and Asian customers and a real improvement through to the end of the decade.”

From FLUG REVUE 5/2002


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