Next month on September 9th, a specially prepared Boeing 777F operated by Lufthansa Cargo carrying some 33 tons of equipment in addition to the BMW Concept Vision iNEXT will embark on a whirlwind journey hitting four destinations located on three different continents, over the span of just five days.
Munich, New York, San Francisco and Beijing are all on the itinerary, and the purpose of the face-paced journey, dubbed the BMW iNEXT World Flight, is to make the future experience of the latest Vision Vehicle concept a current reality. BMW Group is working with Lufthansa Cargo, a subsidiary of the industry leading airline to make the entire thing happen, and the Boeing 777F chosen for the mission wears a specialized livery that includes broad and familiar markings which signify what’s being transported within.
iNEXT is BMW’s transportation proposition for the future according to Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management for BMW AG and responsible for Development, and such a visionary new production is said to be deserving of a completely new presentation style. Peter Gerber, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of Lufthansa Cargo AG echoed the same statements when he said, “Visionary products deserve visionary presentations. We are delighted to have made this extraordinary world premiere possible in cooperation with BMW.”
Many of the specific details surrounding iNEXT remain shrouded in mystery, but we do know that it’s intended to be a high-test effort in relation to bringing BMW’s electrical and autonomous capabilities directly to the hands and garages of consumers. Rather than continuing the groundbreaking use of carbon fiber developed for the i3 and i8 which is now filtering down through the lineup in the form of Carbon Core, M Performance parts and other general weight savings, the underlying architecture of one of the two upcoming FAAR or CLAR platforms—hopefully the latter RWD-based version—will be used.
The 33 tons of equipment fitted within the 777 freighter is a bit more understandable when broken down into individual components: 78,000 LEDs making up 165 video LED modules, and a total of ten 13,000 ANSI lumen projectors will be working on conjunction to provide an experience within the body of the aircraft that will appeal to all of the senses. Complicating matters is the fact that all of the workings needed to be setup in such a way that could withstand the forces associated with spanning the globe on the wings of a modern wide body jetliner, all while remaining within the boundaries of weight and balance as well.
The 777F is uniquely qualified for the task, thanks to a max takeoff weight (MTOW) of over 750,000 pounds, a cruise speed of 550 mph and a range of nearly 5,000 miles. The specific unit captured in the render above, tail number D-ALFC, was delivered in 2014, which makes it quite new in the aviation world. Although the 747 might forever remain the nostalgic queen of the skies, the 777F has long been encroaching on the double-decker, four-engined airliner’s cargo market since its mid 1990s introduction, as their maximum payloads are less than 20,000 pounds apart.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy Alex Tock, BMW Group.]