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Sat, Jun 10, 2006

Boeing Reports 'Mystery Customer' For Its Upcoming 747-8i

First Passenger 747 Order In Years... But Whose Is It?

Sshh. Don't say we told you... but Boeing has booked its first order for the passenger-version of its upcoming 747-8 Intercontinental.

We didn't hear that from Boeing, but rather received a tip after perusing an aviation chat room Friday, which led us to check it out for ourselves. Sure enough, it's right there on the manufacturer's website:

Boeing isn't making a big deal at all about the fact the manufacturer has booked its first order for a passenger-carrying 747 in several years. Lately, freighters have been the big money makers for the 747 program -- a trend that continued when Boeing launched development of the 747-8 program last year.

To date, Boeing has 19 orders for the company's A380 competitor -- 10 from Luxembourg's Cargolux, another eight from Nippon Cargo Airlines... and the one "unidentified" customer, for the Intercontinental.

So... whose plane is it? Boeing isn't saying much... except that the customer for the plane does not want to be identified. When pressed by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Thursday, a Boeing spokesman added that only a few people in the company know whose plane it is.

Of course, you know what THAT means... let the rampant speculation begin!

Theories on who ordered the first 747i are blossoming, like so many flowers on a grassy knoll. So far, Lufthansa... Singapore Airlines... United Airlines... even "an unidentified Arab sheik" have been listed as possible customers.

There is also a persistent rumor the plane could be the new Air Force One (which is actually two aircraft... both custom-made, low time, pristinely-maintained 747-200s, above.)

Boeing will launch the cargo version of the 747-8 -- which features a stretched fuselage, updated wing, and more fuel-efficient engines from the 787 program -- in late 2009, with the first Intercontinental to be delivered about six months later to... somebody.

FMI: Boeing's Online Order List

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