On March 25 I was invited to take part in the delivery ceremony and flight for Lufthansa’s penultimate 747-8i, D-ABYT. What makes this 747-8i a bit more special than her peers is the fact that the aircraft was painted in a livery that was used on Lufthansa aircraft in the 1970s and 80s. In some circles, it is referred to a ‘Retro-Jet’ or ‘Retro-Livery’.
The timing of this delivery was designed to compliment Lufthansa’s 60th Anniversary Celebration event that was to take place on April 15 in Frankfurt, but due to Germanwings tragedy the event was cancelled out of respect for the loss of life in the crash. It is also because of the crash that I delayed publishing any content related to the delivery flight out of respect to the situation.
The delivery event at Boeing’s Everett Delivery Center had a muted and somber feel to due to the crash. Initially, plans had called for a ‘Ribbon Cutting’ ceremony on the ramp next to the aircraft to celebrate the occasion along with a bit of ‘pomp’. However, Boeing and Lufthansa decided to hold a much simpler ceremony indoors where the Captain of the delivery flight, Uwe Strohdeicher and Boeing’s head of their 747 program, Bruce Dickenson each signed a ceremonial Purchase Certificate during a Luncheon hosted by Boeing at the Delivery Center.
The crew for the delivery flight:
As I mentioned earlier, this delivery event was more special than what is typically involved for a delivery flight. Usually only a handful of people (5-7 including pilots) are on a delivery flight and they are usually airline or Boeing employees that are onboard to monitor the aircraft. For this event however we nearly filled the Business Class cabin on the lower level. Lufthansa invited several members of the German press to cover the event and Boeing used this delivery flight to reward some of their colleagues who had worked specifically on this aircraft with a 4 day trip to Frankfurt to visit Lufthansa and to take in the city.
You’re asking who sat in the 8 First Class seats? Boeing and Lufthansa awarded those seats to Boeing employees through a lottery selection. If someone pulled a piece of paper from a hat with a star on it, they sat in front. A nice gesture to recognize employees who worked from start to finish on ‘YT’.
Soon after lunch, we prepared to board the aircraft for the flight to Frankfurt which was handled like any other international flight leaving the USA. The Everett Delivery Center has 2 Gates that handle Boeing delivery flights and is technically regarded as an airport. Both gates are equipped with a security check point complete with TSA staff who X-ray luggage and screen passengers through metal detectors (and no, there is no Pre-Check lane 😉 ). After clearing security, your credentials and passport are checked to make sure you are authorized to be on the flight.
Once through the process, I was allowed to board the aircraft and was able to choose any available Business Class seat available on the lower deck. I was among the first 10-15 passengers to board, so it was easy to find a seat. I wound up sitting in 4A but I use the term ‘sitting’ loosely since I spent only an hour or so actually in the seat. For most of the flight I was simply ‘taking in’ the aircraft, inhaling that ‘new airplane’ smell, and enjoying the fact that we had open access to most of it.
I’ll end Part I at this point since I want to dedicate an entire post to the flight itself. In Part II, I’ll go into far more detail about the onboard experience including delivery flight dining, an economy cabin with no seats, the fantastic Boeing Swag Bag, and other bits and pieces from an amazing experience.
If you’re an avgeek, you won’t want to miss it.