Lufthansa celebrated the arrival of its first Boeing 747-8I on Wednesday in a hangar at Frankfurt airport, where 1,200 invited employees - and a few journos - got a chance to preview the latest iteration of Jumbo Jet.
Clockwise from top left: 747-200B, -200B (new colours), -8I and -400
Lufthansa will have the honour of debuting Boeing's sixth iteration of passenger-carrying 747 when it puts the new jet into service on 1 June between Frankfurt and Washington Dulles. Four more of the 362 seaters are due to arrive this year, with 15 more slated to be delivered through 2013-2015. Other destinations that should be graced by the Lufthansa 747-8I this year include Chicago, Los Angeles, New Delhi and Bangalore.
Lufthansa has been a big fan of Boeing's big jet right from the start. It has already taken delivery of almost 60 passenger 747s, has flown many of the variants including 747-100, -200B/200B combi, -200F, -400/400 combi and now -8I. It was also the first to introduce the type in Europe in April 1970 (between Frankfurt and New York).
First class in the nose - 1975 versus 2012
And apart from its very early 747-100s - which were Pratt & Whitney powered - all have been equipped with General Electric turbofans. The latest iteration is of course powered by a derivative of the GEnx developed for the 787.
Sadly, Lufthansa also had the ominous distinction of being the first airline to suffer a 747 fatal accident, when one of its -100s crashed on take-off from Nairobi in November 1974.
Jumbo cabin cabin crew now - and then
Given Lufthansa's four decades of 747 history, it is appropriate to use the arrival of the first 747-8I to examine how Jumbo cabin fashions have evolved over the ages.
Remarkably, Lufthansa's original 747-100 seat count was just one different from today's 747-8I - 361 versus 362. But that is where the similarities end. That first aircraft had 28 first class seats and the rest was economy. Today's -8I has just eight first class seats (all located in the nose section) and 92 in business. The remaining 262 are economy.
First class on board the -400 in the 1990s - and now on board the 747-8I
Another big difference between 1970 and 2012 is the upper deck. These were originally used as lounge or break-out zones for premium passengers to relax in en route. Today's -8I with an extended upper deck that is similar in area to the cabin of a 737-700, puts the space to good use by accommodating 32 business-class passengers in luxury that far surpasses first class from four decades ago.
Below: First and latest - Lufthansa's original 747-100 series and its new 747-8I