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747-400 vs 747-800 differences


The wing is different (supercritical) and the engines are more powerful and also a lot
quieter. You don't feel the "kick in the pants" on the takeoff roll that you got in the
400, it just trundles along making very little noise and suddenly an electronic voice says
"V1". Rotation is a more gentle affair since the beast is around 20 feet longer. The wing
(?) makes the whole thing a bit more speed unstable on finals.

Under the skin there are a lot of differences. The outer aileron and spoilers are "fly by
wire" and move around in flight to keep everything sweet. There are no flight deck
indications of this. There is a RAT and the hydraulic system rearranges itself in the
event of failures so that even on one or no engines, all control surfaces are powered.
All the spoilers operate as roll augmentation and the elevator is split into 4 sections (2
each side). This makes the flight control check callouts slightly different. The ailerons
also droop for takeoff and landing which improves performance. The CWT has a
nitrogen system to prevent a repeat of the TWA incident.

On the flight deck, the ECS is made by Leibherr and pumps out a lot of air during
certain flight phases. The noise can be quite startling at first. The gear lever is now just
an up/down switch with no "OFF" position. The EICAS selector panel is off the 777 and
can be used to display things all over the place.. An example is the ability to display the
electronic checklist (another new toy) on the ND whilst the engine display is on the
lower EICAS MFD. Oh yes, the screens are now called MFD's.

There is no clock, it is incorporated into the inner MFD and runs automatically from
takeoff and the total flight time is displayed on the status page. The trim position is
moved to the upper centre MFD and blanks after takeoff.
The FMC has several extra pages and has a display more like the 777. The whole thing
is geared around RNP operations and there are three buttons on the glareshield to
ACCEPT, REJECT or CANCEL ATC messages. The approach logic has been changed to
something called Integrated Approach Navigation (IAN). What this means is that as
long as an approach is in the FMC, all you have to do is select APPROACH and you are
basically flying an ILS regardless of whether it is LNAV/VNAV, ILS, VOR or whatever.
RNP scales appear on the PFD to show you where you are in relation to lateral and
vertical profiles. Sounds complex but it makes life easier. There is a brand new radar
which you basically leave in AUTO and it does everything for you. The ND features an
airport map (not yet functional) and a vertical situation display which does clutter the
ND a bit but I like it. You can switch it off.

The other new toy of note is the EFB. At the moment this is used to store manuals
electronically and is used as a performance tool. The figures are very conservative,
especially on landing as the brakes are the same for a heavier aircraft but these are
being gradually tweaked by Boeing as experience is gained. The EFB also has a pilot
utilities menu which contains a calculator and a conversion tool ( Litres to Kg etc).
Eventually this gizmo will have charts and things.

On walk around, you will notice that the wheels are bigger, I can no longer fit between
the body gear and gear door and it is not due to too many pies down route. Honest.
You need to avoid the RAT doors in case it pings down and takes your head off. The
whole thing is longer and takes more time to stagger around. The Nav lights are a bit

MTOW is 445 tonnes and MLW 345 tonnes for the freighter or thereabouts. The beast
is longer and a lot better looking than the A380 and has a definite ramp presence. The
only major whinge from our guys is the rearrangement of the galley which is now side
on and gives less room to move about. There are more seats on the upper deck.
Taxying needs you to go a bit deeper into the turns.

And thats about it. A nice bit of kit IMHO. The aircraft of choice for heavy lifting over
long ranges. Fuel burn is about the same or slightly less than the 400 for a greater
weight. We had 8tonnes/hour in the cruise the other night at around 385t. The 400
was a fairly constant 10t/hr.


The overhead panel has been tidied up a bit. The engine start panel is simplified, no
more manual start or continuous ignition switches, the whole thing is automatic. The
engines also monitor absolutely everything and shut themselves down if they don't like
it. The 400 (CF6) only monitored Hot, Hung and no EGT rise.

The engines take longer to start than the CF6 (can't speak for the RR) and tend to
vibrate due to rotor bow. They also produce quite a lot of smoke which alarms the
ground crew. This is normal. The engines themselves look the dog's bo****ks with
large scimitar bladed fan blades. So far they have been very reliable. Take off requires
40% to be set prior to pressing the blast off button. The ground anti ice procedure is a
bit different and you need to watch vibration levels. Any more than 4 and you have to
manually de ice the engines. Not been a problem so far, even in a frozen ORD. A PIP
from GE is expected at some point to address some minor issues, including the smoky

There is no more Aft cargo heat switch, it is incorporated into the system elsewhere
and the yaw dampers have to remain off until the IRS has aligned. The pack selectors
have been replaced with simple PBI's.