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HomeAirline NewsBoeing 747-8 Vs 747-400 – Is There Any Difference?

Boeing 747-8 Vs 747-400 – Is There Any Difference?

With launch dates 20 years apart, the Boeing 747-8 is the update to the iconic 747-400. With the immense popularity of the -400, Boeing had hoped for the same levels of success for the newer -8. The newer model hasn’t seen that success, despite being better in every way. Let’s look at the two models of 747 and the difference that 20 years of innovation can produce.

At first glance, you might notice the more obvious differences between the two variants: The engines of the newer -8 have engine cowlings with serrated edges, and where there was once a small winglet on the -400, no winglet exists on the -8. While the overall shape of the two 747s may look similar to one another, some dimensions
have changed. The -8 actually has a larger wingspan, longer fuselage, as well as an extended upper-deck.
The 747-8 has an additional 3.5 meters of wingspan, is 5.6 meters longer, and actually 10 centimeters taller!
For passenger versions, the 747-8 offers 51 additional seats over the 747-400. For the freighter variant, the 5.6 meters of extra fuselage length, means the -8 offers 16% more revenue cargo volume.

While the 747-400 has three engine options from General Electric, Pratt & Whitney, or Rolls-Royce, the 747-8 exclusively uses the General Electric GEnx, which is the same engine used on the 787. This much newer engine has a much higher bypass-ratio. It also features composite fan blades and a composite fan case. This means the -8 is
16% more fuel-efficient with a 30% smaller noise footprint. With advances in materials technology, engineering,
and manufacturing, the -8 requires less maintenance than its predecessor. The maintenance intervals are longer, which means less time on the ground compared to the -400.

Here is a chart comparing the two types of 747s:
Outside of the technical characteristics and specifications of the two jumbo jets, the number of orders of the two models varies greatly. For the 747-400 and all of its variants, a total of 694 were ordered. This overshadows the mere 137 deliveries of the 747-8. There are 16 more undelivered 747-8s. Therefore, the new jumbo jet will never come close to the -400. Furthermore, the ratio of freighter orders to passenger-variant orders is much higher with the -8. Some of its more notable customers have been cargo operators such as UPS. In comparison, the 747 400 became the choice for many passenger airlines and their long-haul operations, including British Airways, KLM, Qantas, Japan Airlines, and many more.

While a lot has changed with the newer -8, it’s worth mentioning that there are many similarities between the two models, which include type rating, loading capabilities, and flight handling characteristics. Having many of these commonalities was critical for Boeing in order to market the aircraft to passenger and cargo airlines that already had the -400 in their fleets. This can be clearly seen with commercial airlines like Lufthansa and Korean Air.

Interestingly, both variants have been selected by governments for VVIP transport. The Government of South Korea had used the 747-400 as its “Code One” presidential jet and will use the -8 for the same purpose next year. Additionally, the United States Government is currently working on retrofitting two -8s to be the new Air Force One.

Sadly, the most significant similarity is that both jets have fallen out of favor with passenger airlines as they seek the higher fuel efficiency and lower maintenance costs found with twin-jets. With recent events, airlines like KLM have said their final goodbyes to the 747-400 for passenger operations, and British Airways is in the process of phasing out its fleet as well.

Earlier this month we discovered that Boeing will end production of this iconic jet, truly marking the end of an era.
What is your favorite thing about the 747? Let us know in the comments



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