The Boeing 747-8 has not been a terribly successful program. Boeing decided to update the 747 family with new engines and revisions to the wing along with a stretch to the fuselage. The resulting jet was delayed by its own and other program issues and it came around at a time when there were few passenger airlines interested and the freighter market was taking a kicking. The result has been anemic sales and a production rate that has steadily reduced as a result of the low demand. However, from a technical point of view, it is a nice upgrade.
The wing came in for a lot of attention and was significantly redesigned. The most conspicuous change is the introduction of the swept tips common to many Boeing designs these days. Less obvious is that the flap system was completely redesigned. The original 747 flaps, carried through on the 747-400 are very complex. Sections are triple slotted. The Boeing aerodynamicists came up with a single slot design to replace this which apparently has good performance but I imagine is a lot simpler to make and maintain. Only from the rear on approach can you see the difference. These shots compare a 747-400 from Air New Zealand with a Korean Air 747-8 and you can see for yourself how much simpler the new design is.
The scheduling of flights from Australia and New Zealand to the west coast of the US is not ideal for getting maximum utilization from your aircraft. There is a long time between the arrivals and the most desirable time for departing on the return journey. Consequently, there are a lot of jets that spend a good portion of the day sitting at LAX. Rather than waste valuable gate space, these jets are disembarked and then towed to remote stands to await the time when the evening flights will be readied.
There is a large parking area to the west end of LAX where these jets are kept. You will see Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand aircraft all parked up here in the middle of the day. We were able to make a short detour from our normal operating area to the west end of the airport when ATC was able which meant we could get a good view of the jets parked up here. One of the Qantas jets was carrying special markings for the Wallabies rugby team. Later in the day they will have started the return trek across the Pacific.