Newark Gets OK for Boeing's Biggest-Ever Plane

The airport has a waiver to receive flights by the 747-8.

The biggest airliner Boeing has ever built could soon be coming to Newark Liberty International Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration has given the airport a waiver so it can receive flights by the massive Boeing 747-8 even though its runways and taxiways don't meet the width requirements for such planes.

FAA has a few conditions, though: The 747-8 has to stay off certain taxiways on the north and south ends of the airport, and it can't taxi faster than 20 mph. The agency posted the waiver online this week.

John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York received a waiver for the plane in June.

The new Boeing is 13 feet wider and 18 feet longer than the company's previous version, the 747-400. It can carry up to 581 passengers, while a 747-400 can carry 524. But a typical 747-8 would carry 467 people in three classes.

Boeing is already delivering freighter versions of the 747-8. Lufthansa will start flying the first passenger version early next year, though the airline hasn't said what routes the plane will fly.

In April, an Air France Airbus A380 clipped a regional jet on the tarmac at Kennedy Airport, raising concerns about the growing number of super-large aircraft at U.S. airports that don't meet the federal space requirements for them. Kennedy has a waiver for the A380 because its taxiways are too close together.

Both the 747-8 and Airbus 380 fall into a new size category known as Airplane Design Group VI.

Airports are supposed to have 200-foot-wide runways to handle Group VI planes, but Newark's runways are only 150 feet wide. The regulations also call for 324 feet between the centerline of one taxiway and the centerline of another, but Newark's range from 267 feet to 314 feet.

The airport also plans to send the 747-8 down taxiways that are 75 feet wide. The standard is 100 feet.

The FAA cautioned the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates Newark Liberty, to be on the lookout for any problems caused by the 747-8's jet blast as the airliner moves around other planes, vehicles and workers. It also urged the agency to consider moving some truck roads farther away from taxiways.

The FAA has issued waivers to 19 airports to receive the 747-8. Along with Kennedy, Dallas-Fort Worth and Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Alaska have waivers to receive the Airbus 380.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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