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Boeing's 747-8 Intercontinental to debut this weekend

The next-generation passenger version of the iconic jumbo jet is set to be unveiled Sunday. Designed to be highly fuel-efficient, the plane uses 787 engines. Stay tuned all weekend for CNET coverage.

On Sunday, Boeing is set to unveil its long-awaited 747-8 Intercontinental. The cargo version of the plane made its first flight last year. Boeing

OAKLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT--As a big fan of airplanes, and plane travel, I'm excited to be sitting in the terminal here, waiting for my flight to Seattle. That's because starting tomorrow, I'll be covering three days of Boeing events, highlighted by the unveiling of the aviation giant's long-awaited 747-8 Intercontinental.

The next-generation of Boeing's iconic jumbo jet--probably the most famous airplane in history--is said to be highly efficient.

As Boeing puts it on its Web site:

The 747-8 Intercontinental is the only jetliner in the 400- to 500-seat market, stretched [18.3 ft] from the 747-400 to provide 467 seats in a three-class configuration and a [8,000 nautical mile] range. Using 787-technology engines, the airplane will be quieter, produce lower emissions, and achieve better fuel economy than any competing jetliner. The 747 Intercontinental will provide nearly equivalent trip costs and 13 percent lower seat-mile costs than the 747-400, plus 26 percent greater cargo volume....The 747-8 is more than 10 percent lighter per seat than the [Airbus] A380 and will consume 11 percent less fuel per passenger than the 555-seat airplane. That translates into a trip-cost reduction of 21 percent and a seat-mile cost reduction of more than 6 percent, compared to the A380.

Last February, Boeing's 747-8 Freighter took to the air for its first flight from Paine Field, in Everett, Wash. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Last year, I covered the first flight of the cargo version of the 747-8, and on Sunday, I'll be on hand for the formal unveiling of the long-awaited passenger version of the plane. It's not yet known when the 747-8 Intercontinental will make its first flight, or be delivered to carrier customers. Either way, stay tuned all weekend, because I'll also be posting stories and photos from the 747 assembly line, and of mockup interiors of the plane. And on Monday, I'll have coverage of some of Boeing's other planes, including an update on its 787 Dreamliner.