EVERETT, Wash.--Although aviation giant Boeing has been focused largely on its long-awaited 787 Dreamliner for the last few years, it has also been working feverishly to launch the next-generation of the most iconic airplane ever, the 747. Boeing tomorrow will formally unveil the 747-8 Intercontinental, almost exactly a year after the first flight of its cargo version, the 747-8 F.
CNET and much of the other aviation press corps today got a rare tour of the 747-8 assembly plant, deep inside the largest building in the world (by volume). For 747 fans, it was a terrific treat. For those who just wanted to see the new version of the famous plane being built, it was equally rewarding.
This is a 747-8 Intercontinental being built for Lufthansa, Boeing's launch partner for the new plane.
A look from the rear at the two General Electric GEnx-2B engines on the right wing of a 747-8 Intercontinental that is under assembly. This is the first of the Intercontinentals being built for Lufthansa, Boeing's launch partner on the new plane.
This is the over-center wing box, a piece of the plane's skin that is meant to handle loads for the wing. It is heat bonded and heat treated, and thicker than the rest of the plane's skin. It is called "Fort Knox" because it is the strongest piece of the aircraft.