Boeing has already decided to end production of the 747, its most iconic aircraft, Bloomberg said on Thursday. According to sources, the planemaker is expected to roll out the last 747-8F in 2022 and then close the production line that has operated for more than 50 years.
The retirement of the “Queen of the Skies” is hardly surprising. Demand for the model has plummeted in recent years and the few orders have been for the 747-8F cargo variant. In 2018, UPS ordered 14 of those planes that are still largely in the production queue.
The 747 passenger version stopped being produced in 2017 when the 47th 747-8 aircraft left the assembly line to be delivered to Korean Air. Even more efficient and capable, the last passenger variant was a huge failure, a clear sign of market depletion for four-engine widebodies.
The new coronavirus pandemic, however, was decisive in burying the program by reducing the demand for air travel and making the operation of less efficient planes virtually impossible.
But unlike rival A380, the 747 will end its career with a flourish, after 1,571 aircraft were ordered against just 250 from the Airbus giant. Among the large planes, the “Jumbo” was only surpassed in orders by the 777, which accumulated 1,636 orders until May.
As it has been doing lately after the 737 MAX scandal, Boeing declined to comment on the Bloomberg article. Confirmation that 747 is outside the company’s plans has not yet been reported to employees themselves, according to the agency.
For Reuters, the U.S. airframer was vague. “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,” said the company.
Despite the imminent end of production, the 747 is expected to remain in service for many years as a cargo plane, a feature that the model incorporated from the beginning thanks to the front cargo door. A more dignified closure for the famous plane.