According to Bloomberg, Boeing which hasn’t made an announcement yet, is quietly pulling the plug on the 747 jumbo jet which has been around for the last fifty years. The last 747-8 will roll out of a Seattle-area factory in about two years, a deduction made from the subtle wording changes in financial statements.
If true, this will come as no surprise as the overall demand for aircraft have dropped sharply due to the coronavirus pandemic, and even more for the jumbo jets.
In June Boeing’s competitor Airbus had their last convoy of A380 fuselage segments rumble through the streets of France to their Toulouse plant for final assembly of the last super jumbo.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Airbus was winding down production of the A380 as demand begun to shrink with airlines opting for other widebody twin-engine jetliners.
Boeing’s “Queen of the Skies” entered service on January 22, 1970 with Pan Am on their New York–London route. The 747 eventually became the main stay of airlines on their long haul routes and Boeing racked up 1,571 orders over the decades. Orders for the 747 in the last ten years have however been less than stellar.
All told, the 747 will still be flying long after production ends thanks to their ability to haul large volumes of cargo aroung the globe.
In 2017, the US Air Force confirmed that it purchased two of the 747-8 airliners that will be converted over to serve as the next generation presidential transports. These are reported to be Boeing’s last order of 747 passenger versions.
The coronavirus pandemic has hastened the retirement of many jumbo jets and aviation experts has warned that air travel as we knew it would not fully recover for at least three years. About 9 out of every 10 747s are currently parked.
This is a moment that many 747 enthusiasts have not been looking forward to but as with everything else in life, all good things must come to an end. The 747 will forever be known as “Queen of the Skies” and the four-engine, double-decker jumbo that shrank our world.