The Last Built Boeing Dreamlifter 747-400 Takes Flight <


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The Last Built Boeing Dreamlifter 747-400 Takes Flight

By Daniel Guevarra

February 17, 2010 - The fourth Boeing Dreamlifter - the final airplane in the fleet of specially modified 747-400s – entered service on Tuesday. Dreamlifters transport the large composite structures of the 787 Dreamliner from partners around the world to Everett, WA for final assembly. The unique airplane, which was modified by Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corp. in Taipei, Taiwan, took off from Paine Field in Everett early Tuesday morning. Bound for Wichita, KA, the Dreamlifter is returning the equipment used to transport the forward fuselage section known as section 41. The airplane's registry is N718BA.

The Boeing Dreamlifter is a modified 747-400 passenger airplane that can haul more cargo by volume than any airplane in the world. It is the primary means of transporting major assemblies of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from suppliers around the world to the 787 final assembly site in Everett, Washington. This reduces delivery times to as little as one day from as many as 30 days today.

The Boeing Dreamlifter 747-400 has a range, dependent on payload but comparable to other members of the 747 family of aircraft. It has wing Span of 211.5 feet (64.44 meters) with a length of 235 feet, 2 inches (71.68 meters). It’s height (fin tip) 70 feet, 8 inches (21.54 meters). The aircraft has a swing tail cargo door hinge on aft section of the fuselage. Cruise Speed of Mach 0.82 with a cargo capacity of 65,000 cubic feet and a maximum takeoff weight of 803,000 LBS.


The Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter (LCF), Dreamlifter, is a wide-body cargo aircraft. Constructed by drastic modifications to an existing Boeing 747-400, the Dreamlifter is used exclusively for transporting aircraft parts to Boeing from suppliers around the world.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes had announced back on October 13, 2003, that due to the length of time required by marine shipping, air transport will be the primary method of transporting parts for the 787 (then known as the 7E7). Three used passenger 747-400 aircraft were to be converted into an outsize configuration in order to ferry sub-assemblies from Japan and Italy to Charleston, South Carolina and then to Everett, Washington for final assembly. The Large Cargo Freighter has a bulging fuselage similar in concept to the Super Guppy and Airbus A300-600ST Beluga outsize cargo aircraft, which are also used for transporting wings and fuselage sections. It can hold three times the volume of a 747-400F freighter.


In June 2006, the first DBL-100 cargo loader used for loading 787 parts into the 747 LCF was completed. In December 2006, Boeing announced the 747 LCF would be named the Dreamlifter, a reference to the 787's name, the Dreamliner. It unveiled a standard livery for the aircraft that included a logo reminiscent of the 787's Dreamliner logo.

Certification was initially planned for early 2007, but was pushed back to June 2007. The plane's winglets were removed to resolve excess vibration and other handling characteristics prior to final certification. In the meantime, as part of the flight test program, LCF delivered major sections of the 787 from partner sites around the world to the Boeing factory in Everett, WA for final assembly. The 747 LCF was granted FAA type certification on June 2, 2007. After its first flight on Sept. 9, 2006, the Dreamlifter completed 437 flight-test hours and 639 hours of ground testing.

The 747 LCF's unusual appearance has drawn comparisons to the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile and the Hughes H-4 Hercules ("Spruce Goose"). Due to its ungainly form, exacerbated by the fact that the need for immediate testing resulted in the first model remaining unpainted for some time, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Scott Carson jokingly apologized to 747 designer Joe Sutter that he was "sorry for what we did to your plane."

Of the four 747 Dreamlifters Boeing planned to acquire, three were complete and operational as of June 2008, and the fourth was due to become operational in 2009.

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