747-8I Maiden Flight Set for March 20th?

Artist's Rendition of 747-8I (Boeing)

According to FlightBlogger’s Jon Ostrower, the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental has completed its first engine run and Boeing officials are now looking at a possible maiden flight by March 20th, signaling that the American plane maker is right on schedule for a first flight by spring.

Boeing declined to confirm the 20 March target, but company sources say the first engine start came two days ahead of schedule, indicating a quickening pace toward its first flight.

Although it won’t go through the same type of testing required for a brand new airplane, the new 747-8I will still need to perform about 600 hours of flight tests in order to prove its airworthiness.

With numerous delays to both the 787 and 747 programs, getting the 747-8I off the ground will be a big step for Boeing as it eagerly tries to get both planes into customers hands by the end of this year. The first 747-8I will be a VIP version set to be delivered to the Kuwait government with German carrier Lufthansa expecting its first delivery early next year.

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