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Adios, Queen of the Sky!

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Adios, Queen of the Sky!

Old 2nd Jul 2020, 22:21
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Angel Adios, Queen of the Sky!

I suppose we all saw this coming. (Mods, please combine with similar thread if indicated.)

Business News
July 2, 2020 / 5:34 PM / Updated 4 hours ago

Boeing to pull the plug on its 747 jumbo jet: Bloomberg News



(Reuters) - Boeing Co (BA.N) is pulling the plug on its 747 jumbo jet, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.

The 747 democratized global air travel in the 1970s but fell behind modern twin-engine passenger jets.

The last 747-8 will roll out of a Seattle area factory in about two years, according to the Bloomberg report. (bloom.bg/38n5A8p)

When contacted by Reuters, Boeing did not confirm the Bloomberg report.

“At a build rate of 0.5 airplanes per month, the 747-8 program has more than two years of production ahead of it in order to fulfill our current customer commitments,” a Boeing spokesman told Reuters.

“We will continue to make the right decisions to keep the production line healthy and meet customer needs.”

Boeing’s 747 plane is enjoying a second life as a cargo mule for companies like United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N) due to a freight market boom fueled by online shopping.

In 2016, Boeing said it could end 747 production amid falling orders and pricing pressure.

Major U.S. carriers like United Continental Holdings Inc (UAL.O) and Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) have already said goodbye to the 747.

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Old 2nd Jul 2020, 23:55
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She'll still be around for many years to come. Because she can easily be converted to a cargo plane
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 09:01
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Does this present anyissues for AF1 replacement, as I recall the contracts and full [civilian] specifications have not yet been fully finalised for the airframes? Or could this be Boeing's way of playing hardball over the contract price?

Feel free to correct me if I've missed the ink going on the paper....
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 09:17
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What if -say Amazon- would want to buy 40 new 747-8F? Would Boeing build them or has the final call passed?
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 11:31
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The final day will be the day Boeing dismantle the tooling for the aircraft and replace it with the tooling for another type, all the time the tooling exists the line can restart, not quickly but still possible.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 11:34
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This is why I asked. The tooling for some of the fuselage parts got sold by some supplier already.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 13:24
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Originally Posted by Donkey497 View Post
Does this present anyissues for AF1 replacement, as I recall the contracts and full [civilian] specifications have not yet been fully finalised for the airframes? Or could this be Boeing's way of playing hardball over the contract price?
However much longer is this going to take ? Didn't these airframes first fly, and were then stored, more than 4 years ago ? If Boeing have now terminated production they are going to be obsolete before they are introduced.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 13:35
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Originally Posted by Less Hair View Post
What if -say Amazon- would want to buy 40 new 747-8F? Would Boeing build them or has the final call passed?
amazon is more like an integrator. More frequencies thus smaller airplanes. So 40 -8F’s for Amazon I find extremely unlikely to happen.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 14:33
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The VC-25Bs (748s) in progress were already completed and flight-tested - but mothballed near Palmdale because the purchasing airline went bankrupt before delivery. So the existence (or not) of the main production line is not a factor. The US went with the "off-the-shelf" airframes to save some money.

Given that the VC-25As have been in service for 30 years (upgraded as needed), the Bs may not be "obsolete" until at least 2055 or so.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 17:44
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Originally Posted by Less Hair View Post
This is why I asked. The tooling for some of the fuselage parts got sold by some supplier already.
Not the tooling - the vendor closed the factory and is tearing down the building. My understanding is the tooling is still stored somewhere until Boeing makes the decision as to putting together a new production line for the fuselage bits or simply pulling the plug. That decision will be based on Boeing's assessment of the future market for the 747-8F - basically is it worth the trouble to keep the line going (Boeing stopped offering the passenger version even before I retired 4 years ago).
Right now I suspect Boeing is trying to decide if the uptick in cargo demand due to Covid is going to last, or if it's just a blip.
At 6 aircraft a year, the 747-8F is basically a break-even proposition for Boeing - they'd need sufficient demand to get that up to at least one/month to make it worth the trouble to make new investment in a new fuselage line.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 18:01
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Is there a number of 747-8 to be built that Boeing guaranteed to the suppliers and program partners? I think it was like at least 200 for the 717 back then.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 19:11
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AFAIK, that's not the way things work any more. Suppliers are expected to share risk, which includes reaching their own view about the size of the market for any program they are bidding for.

If they get that wrong, particularly if they overestimate the market, that's their problem.
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Old 3rd Jul 2020, 22:19
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I don't think so. I know the number of 747-8s that Boeing thought they could sell when they were deciding to launch the program but I suspect that's proprietary so I'm not willing to share it (suffice to say it was more than they've sold to date).
For the most part the 747-8 used the same supplier base as the 747-400 and the changes to the 747-8 relative to the -400 would not have required much in the way of new or modified tooling, with the exception of the wing and the engine. Most of the wing is done in-house by Boeing, and GE was a risk sharing partner on the 747-8 program (I suspect there are some high level discussions on-going between Boeing and GE regarding the future of the 747 program - GE would certainly like to sell more GEnx-2B engines).
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 03:45
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The 747 has some entire market for itself. If I would be Boeing I wouldn't stop it. There must be demand as old freighters age and passenger quads are leaving many fleets.
Imagine no more combined real wide body, high cabin and nose cargo door loading aircraft being available? What's the next best thing then? Il-76TD-90VDs? 777F? 747BCF?
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 16:44
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I've flown freight for a good few years. I'd like to fly the queen for a career, as long as she's still the queen there will be pilots at her knees!!
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 20:46
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Antonov 124 - we've used them a few times for specialised(*) loads too big for the 747.

I can also see a fair case to make a few more 124's and maybe bring the second An225 up to flying standard

* weight / volume / mass distribution issues for 747, nothing particularly exotic......
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 20:53
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The 124 definitely has it's niche, but for general cargo it's operating costs are far higher than for the 747F.
I do recall hearing of a program to build a new batch of updated 124s with CF6-80C2 engines and updated electronics/avionics. But I don't think anything ever became of it.

Less Hair, I agree that 747F does have the segment of the market to itself, and many of the 747-400F/BCF's out there are getting seriously long in the tooth (as in well over 100,000 hours). Those can't keep flying indefinitely and will eventually need to be replaced. Furthermore, there are not many passenger 747s left out there that are not similarly 'well used' to be converted to freighters.
But at the same time, Boeing is still a business - not a charity. At current production rates the 747F is at best a break-even prospect, and to keep building them beyond the current order book is going to require a major investment in new fuselage manufacturing capability. Such an investment doesn't make sense unless Boeing can be reasonably confident of enough future orders to not simply keep the current production rate but to increase it by at least a factor of two.
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 21:55
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Went to the Far East, in the late 90’s on a budget, and had seats in ( port ) row 81. Never been sicker in my life. The vortex stuff at the back is not recommended.

The Big Bird will be missed.
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Old 4th Jul 2020, 22:36
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It's not vortex, it's distance from the centre of gravity. The aircraft pivots at the C of G, so any little bit of turbulence gets amplified along the distance to the back. That distance is long on the 747.
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Old 5th Jul 2020, 01:32
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Through the early to late 70s, a friend and me would regularly take the bus to Burkeville, walk along the old road now replaced by Russ Baker Way, cut across a field and hop a 4 foot(!) fence and creep out right to the edge of the runway to take photographs of aircraft landing on 26L. (Until the grounds crew would show up to chase us off, but we could see them coming)
By chance in 1971 we were in place for the first landing of a 747 into YVR!

To this day I can still feel the thrill of having such an enormous airliner pass so close over us laying there. Previously biggest airframe I shot was a DC8. Couldn't wind the film fast enough and the down-blast almost blew my Minolta right out of my hands! Good to know that magnificent beast will still be flying, likely longer than me.
I'll be long since grounded for various mental infirmities by the time that airframe is no longer viable. They said the B52 couldn't possibly continue beyond 50 years didn't they?
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