courtesy: Chris Sloan

Lufthansa’s first 747-8i, D-ABYA, left Paine Field in Everett, Washington today and headed for home in Frankfurt.

Following a brief ceremony attended by executives from Lufthansa, Boeing and various suppliers, executives from both companies boarded the aircraft and took off for Frankfurt where the aircraft will arrive on May 2 where it will be welcomed with a special celebration.

From there, she’ll head to Technik HQ in Hamburg to have the finishing touches put on her before entering passenger service on June 1.

Guess who’s going to be there ;).

The Press Release From Lufthansa:

East Meadow, NY, May 1, 2012 – Today Lufthansa officially received delivery of the first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental passenger aircraft. Lufthansa is the first airline to operate Boeing’s new Jumbo jet, which is one of the carrier’s flagship aircraft, marking yet another milestone in the more than half century partnership between the two industry leaders. The official handover took place during a ceremony at Boeing’s Everett, WA, facility outside of Seattle, where Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa German Airlines; Pat Shanahan, senior vice president, Airplane Programs, Boeing Commercial Airplanes and more than 100 company executives, employees, media and local dignitaries gathered to celebrate the momentous occasion.

“We are excited and thrilled to welcome the 747-8 Intercontinental to our fleet. With its lower noise, lower fuel burn and lower emissions, the 747-8 Intercontinental will help us meet our strategy of environmental protection and sustainability, underpinned by investment in innovation. And our passengers will love the new interior, which includes our all-new full-flat business-class cabin,” said Carsten Spohr.

Later today, the new aircraft will be flown to Lufthansa’s Frankfurt base, where it will be prepared to enter service in just one month, on June 1st. The inaugural route will be Frankfurt (FRA) to Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport (IAD) with flight LH 418/419. Later this year, Los Angeles, Chicago O’Hare, New Delhi and Bangalore will be added to the route network.

“We are very proud and pleased that Lufthansa is the airline launch customer for the 747-8 Intercontinental,” said Boeing’s Pat Shanahan. “Lufthansa has been a trusted partner for many years and has contributed greatly to making the 747 a truly beloved airplane around the world. We are excited for Lufthansa’s passengers to experience the incredible new Intercontinental — it is truly a Queen of the Skies for the 21st Century.”

Lufthansa currently has 20 Boeing 747-8s on order and is expected to take delivery of five more this year. “This investment by Lufthansa is a significant contribution to U.S. exports, bolstering our National Export Initiative and sustaining U.S. jobs in innovation and manufacturing by showcasing the excellence of The Boeing Company as a global leader in aerospace. I applaud this vital and successful partnership,” said Francisco J. Sanchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

The Boeing 747-8 is a brand new aircraft designed on the well-tested base of the 747-400. It features new state-of-the-art wings with improved aerodynamics and raked wing tips; new fuel-efficient, U.S.-manufactured GEnx-2B engines that contribute to a reduction in fuel burn, emissions and noise and thus give airlines the lowest operating costs and best economics of any large passenger airplane; and fly-by-wire technology.

The aircraft generates a 30 percent smaller noise footprint than the 747-400 and brings double-digit improvements in fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions per passenger, making it one of the industry’s most fuel-efficient aircraft and key to Lufthansa’s commitment to sustainable reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. The 747-8 fuselage is 250 feet 2 inches long, which is 18 feet 4 inches longer than the 747-400. Lufthansa will operate the 747-8 with a configuration of 362 seats (8 First Class, 92 Business Class and 262 Economy Class). The stretch also provides Lufthansa with 26 percent more cargo volume.

Brand new Business Class product with innovative “V” seating concept
The aircraft interior includes a new curved, upswept architecture that gives passengers a greater feeling of space and comfort, while adding more room for personal belongings. In addition, passengers of the Lufthansa 747-8 Intercontinental will enjoy the carrier’s most up-to-date cabins in all three classes, and will be among the first to experience the airline’s new Business Class product, including a completely redesigned seat that meets the comfort and privacy desires expressed by customers during an extensive research process. At the push of a button, the seat converts to a full-flat, horizontal sleeping surface measuring 6’6” in length (1.98 m). Ergonomically improved cushioning ensures a high degree of comfort in a sitting or horizontal position, and adjustable armrests provide more space in the shoulder area when lying down.

Another unique attribute of the new Business Class cabin is the innovative seating arrangement in the form of a “V” whereby two neighboring seats are angled towards one another along a central axis. This solution enables Lufthansa to fulfill one of the main wishes expressed by customers – to sit or lie facing the direction of travel, while at the same time enjoy virtually double the distance between two neighboring seats at shoulder level, which now gives Business Class passengers greater privacy and more personal living space.

The public can track the progression of the 747-8 into Lufthansa’s service via a dedicated 747-8 micro site that showcases product features along with 3-D models of the aircraft and interactive games.