Small Airports Vie For Boeing 747-8 Traffic

Boeing 747-8

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The largest Boeing 747 aircraft to date are expected to be delivered later this year. Meanwhile, smaller airports are vying to welcome them and the business they might bring.

The new 747-8 freighter cargo planes are the largest Boeing has ever built. Its wingspan is 11 feet wider and its body 18 feet longer than the current 747-400 model.

The new large craft can mean big business for airports who hope to get in on the air cargo market, which is increasing more rapidly than passenger traffic.

Air freight increased 10 percent between 2009 and 2010, while passenger traffic only saw a 2 percent increase.

Medium-size airports like those in Toledo, Ohio, Rockford, Illinois, and Huntsville, Alabama are asking Federal Aviation Administration for approval to receive the planes.

The 747-8 falls into the largest class of airplane, or Airplane Design Group IV; most airports in the United States cannot legally accommodate aircraft of this size because of space requirements aimed at keeping planes from bumping into one another. But, the FAA can grant a waiver provided an airport agree to certain provisions. So far, 14 waivers have been granted.

Getting approval for the 747-8 could woo more of that traffic, Paul Toth, chief executive officer of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, told the Associated Press.

But nearby residents aren't pleased. Among their concerns, they doubt the new planes will be less noisy, as promised by Boeing. And, they worry about the damage one of these airplanes could cause if they crashed.

Watch the aircraft's first flight below.

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