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EVERETT, Wash.--It was years in the making, but today, Boeing and Lufthansa held a delivery event that changes aviation forever. The event marked the delivery of the first 747-8 Intercontinental into an airline's hands. And that means that within a month, the first paying passengers will be climbing aboard this giant new airplane. Lufthansa plans to integrate this plane into its long-haul routes on June 1, and has already contracted for a total of 20 of the new planes.

Seen here, the plane is about to takeoff for its flight to Germany, where Lufthansa will do final preparations for its inaugural commercial flight next month.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Daniel Terdiman/CNET
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Nose up

The next-generation 747, the 747-8 Intercontinental, is nose up.

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Takeoff

The plane lifts off on its way to Frankfurt. Boeing first unveiled the 747-8 Intercontinental on February 13, 2011, but it hadn't handed one of the planes over to an airline customer until today.

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Under the nose

A look up at the nose of Lufthansa's first 747-8 Intercontinental. The plane is said to offer significant improvements for carriers in terms of fuel efficiency and noise. Boeing has 120 orders for the new plane.

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747-8 Intercontinental

Lufthansa's first 747-8 Intercontinental, seen on the tarmac outside Boeing's Future of Flight facility.

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Above the left wing

A look down at the plane's left wing, featuring two of its four General Electric GEnx 2B engines, as well as its curved wing that helps with its overall fuel efficiency.

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Cockpit

A look at the plane's cockpit.

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Cockpit controls close-up

A close-up look at the controls of a 747-8 Intercontinental.

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The whole cockpit

The cockpit of the 747-8 Intercontinental, like some other long-haul planes, has four seats, allowing a crew of three and one observer.

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First class bed

Lufthansa is starting an overhaul of the configuration of its long-haul planes. The new 747, and some of its other planes, including the A380, will have just eight first class seats, and a much greater emphasis on business class.

This is one of the first class seats folded flat and set up as a full bed.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Daniel Terdiman/CNET
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Front of first class

On the new 747-8 Intercontinental, first class is located in the nose of the airplane. Business class is located both behind first class, and in the plane's extended upper deck.

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First class barrier up

Two side-by-side first class seats can have a barrier up between them, or can have the barrier down if two people are traveling together.

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Barrier down

Here, we see the barrier down between two first-class seats.

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Business class main cabin

This is a look through the main cabin business class section. On this 747-8 Intercontinental, there are 92 business class seats, as well as eight first class and 258 economy seats.

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Business class upper deck

A look at the upper deck business class section.

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Overhead compartment

The new 747-8 Intercontinental is said to feature larger overhead bins than most of today's planes.

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Business class bed flat

A look at a business class seat aboard Lufthansa's first 747-8 Intercontinental set up as a fully-flat bed.

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Business class seats

A look at two business class seats, as configured for daytime flight.

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Crew rest quarters

The 747-8 Intercontinental features a crew rest cabin behind a locked door in the upper deck of the plane.

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Economy class front

A look back at the main economy class cabin aboard Lufthansa's first 747-8 Intercontinental.

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Back of seats

A look at the back of the economy class seats, each of which has its own video screen.

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Stairway down

A look down the stairway from the upper deck aboard the 747-8 Intercontinental.

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Stairway up

A look up the same stairway from the main deck.

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Window going dark

One amenity of the new 747-8 Intercontinental is windows that can be instantly changed from fully open to brightly shaded or to fully dark. Here, we see the shade transitioning from shaded to dark.

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Shade coming down

Here, we see the shade dropping down, covering the open window.

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Red carpet

At Boeing and Lufthansa's event today, visitors were greeted with a red carpet as crews prepared the plane for its first flight to Frankfurt.

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Going to see the plane

After a signing ceremony featuring executives from Boeing and Lufthansa, everyone was invited to see the airplane.

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Landing gears

A look at the giant's airplanes main set of landing gears.

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Nico photos engine

Lufthansa executive vice president of group fleet management Nico Buchholz photographs his new airplane's engine.

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Rear engine

A look at the rear of one of the plane's four GEnx 2B engines.

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Right wing engines

Here we see two of the plane's four GEnx 2B engines, in this case on the right wing.

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Right wingtip

The new 747's aerodynamic wing design features this curved wingtip, helping to offer the plane, and its owners, greater fuel efficiency than most long-haul airplanes.

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Spohr and Lufthansa crew

At the ceremony, Lufthansa executives and flight crew members pose for photographs in front of their new airplane.

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The key

Senior vice president and general manager of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Pat Shanahan shows off the ceremonial key for the new 747-8 Intercontinental as he prepares to hand it over to Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa Passenger Airlines.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Daniel Terdiman/CNET
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Taxiing out

Lufthansa's new 747 taxis out from the Future of Flight tarmac in preparation for takeoff.

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