Boeing 747-8 first flight is a success
The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental takes off on its maiden flight from Paine Field, in Everett, Washington, March 20, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Sorbo

The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental successfully began its flight test program on Sunday, taking off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington. The airplane successfully landed four hours and 25 minutes later at Boeing Field in Seattle.

The 747-8 Intercontinental will seat 467 passengers, 51 more than the latest model of the classic 747, and burn less fuel while offering passengers more comfort, the U.S. planemaker said in a statement.

The 747-8 Intercontinental will have the lowest seat-mile cost of any large commercial jetliner, with 12 percent lower costs than its predecessor, the 747-400, it said, adding that the airplane provides 16 percent better fuel economy, 16 percent less carbon emissions per passenger and generates a 30 percent smaller noise footprint than the 747-400.

The interior of the 747-8 Intercontinental provides more room for comfort with a new curved, upswept architecture giving passengers a greater feeling of space and comfort, while adding more room for personal belongings.

The flight was the first of more than 600 flight hours in the test program for the new 747-8 Intercontinental. The airplane followed a route over Eastern Washington, where it underwent tests for basic handling and performance. The airplane reached a cruising altitude of 19,000 feet (5,791 meters), and a speed of up to 250 knots, or about 288 miles per hour (463 kilometers).