Boeing flew some of its newest airplanes to the Paris Air Show this past weekend, including the 747-8 Intercontinental passenger jet, the much-anticipated upgrade to the popular line of jets that was first announced back in 2005. The longest passenger aircraft in the world, the 747-8I will be able to carry 467 passengers once the required 1,600 hours of flight testing is completed and the plane is certified. That's 51 more passengers than the 747-400.

The 250-foot-long plane has been in the works for years at a significant cost to Boeing. But, given how much these airplanes are sold for, Boeing could earn back its up-front investment with only a few big sales. Just before the show, the biggest and oldest of its kind anywhere in the world, kicked off at Le Bourget Airport, Boeing announced that orders had been placed for 17 of the new jumbo jet. That's just two orders, though; one customer ordered 15 at a cost of $4.7 billion and another ordered two at a cost of $635 million. Both customers are undisclosed.

Going forward, Boeing's marketing and sales teams will have to compete with that of Airbus. The double-decker Airbus A380, which was designed specifically to compete with Boeing in the large-aircraft market, is seen as the 747-8I's primary competitor, but Boeing was quick to note that the 747 "is more than 10 percent lighter per seat than the Airbus A380 and consumes 11 percent less fuel per passenger." Still, Airbus is hot at the moment. At the Air Show, the company announced more than $85 billion in orders, including one $18.2 billion order for 200 Airbus 320neo planes from AirAsia.

Here are some photographs of the new 747-8 Intercontinental provided by Boeing:

Images: Boeing Flickr.

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