That Jolt You Felt...
Those in the vicinity of Seattle's Boeing Field may be forgiven
if they thought they felt a slight jolt Saturday morning. Don't
worry... that wasn't an earthquake -- but rather the arrival of
Boeing's largest (and, arguably, most aesthetically challenged) 747
in the United States.
All kidding aside, Boeing celebrated the arrival Saturday of the
first of three specially modified 747-400 passenger jets that will
be used to transport the large composite sections and wings of the
all-new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter
(LCF) touched down at Boeing Field at 8:08 a.m. PDT, ending a
non-stop, 13-hour, 17-minute flight from Taipei, Taiwan.
Boeing called the LCF's arrival a new phase of the airplane's
flight test program, which began when the airplane made its first
flight in Taipei on September 9. Since then, the LCF successfully
completed two additional flights, which demonstrated its
airworthiness and ability to complete the ferry flight to
"It was a beautiful flight," said 747 chief pilot Captain Joe
MacDonald. "The LCF is such an important part of Boeing's business
The LCF is a key element of the lean, global production system
that is critical to the 787's success. Flying the large components
reduces shipping time to as little as one day, from as many as 30.
The fleet of three airplanes is being modified by Evergreen
Aviation Technologies Corp. (EGAT) in Taipei.
The most significant change to the airplane is the new extended
upper fuselage, which boosts the cargo capacity by volume to 65,000
cubic feet, more than three times the cargo capacity of a standard
"This is one of the key milestones for the 787 program this
year," said Scott Strode, 787 vice president of Airplane
Development and Production. "Many people said creating the LCF
couldn't be done, and others said it was possible, but not on such
an aggressive schedule. The LCF's arrival today comes less than 14
months after it entered the factory for modification. It's a
testament to the talent and dedication of our Boeing/EGAT
The LCF's flight test program is expected to last through the
end of the year.
A fleet of three LCFs will ferry 787 assemblies between Nagoya,
Japan, Grottaglie, Italy; Wichita, KS and Charleston, SC before
flying them to the Boeing factory in Everett, WA for final
assembly. The first two LCFs will enter service in early 2007; the
third will follow later.