EVERETT, Washington — The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental is huge. It is the largest passenger plane the company has ever built, but that doesn't give a sense of its awe-inspiring size.
The 747-8 Intercontinentals took to the air for the first time Sunday. Anytime something that big makes its maiden flight, it draws a crowd. Reporters from around the world gathered at Paine Field near Seattle. As the jumbo jet taxied by, its wings — with a span of 224 feet, 7 inches — just cleared the crowd. That's how big this airplane is.
Boeing chief 747 pilot Mark Feuerstein and co-pilot Paul Stemer kept Boeing's biggest bird aloft for four hours and 25 minutes. They made a few unusual maneuvers while they were up there, including flying sideways and inducing stall warnings. It wasn't your typical first flight test.
But then, the Intercontinental isn't your typical airplane. The fourth-generation 747 has a maximum seating capacity of 605, but most airlines will more likely use a seating capacity in the 450 seat range.
Above: The 747-8 Intercontinental in all its glory at Paine Field. Photo: Jason Paur / Wired.com