USA - Boeing Quietly Pulls Plug on 747 Jumbo Jet

Arno Froese

The last 747-8 will roll out of a Seattle-area factory in about two years, a decision that hasn’t been reported but can be teased out from subtle wording changes in financial statements, people familiar with the matter said.

It’s a moment that aviation enthusiasts long have dreaded, signaling the end of the double-decker, four-engine leviathans that shrank the world. Airbus SE is already preparing to build the last A380 jumbo, after the final convoy of fuselage segments rumbled to its Toulouse, France, plant.

Boeing’s “Queen of the Skies” debuted in 1970, an audacious bet that transformed travel but almost bankrupted the company. Passenger versions boasted a spiral staircase to a luxurious upstairs lounge. Freighter models featured a hinged nose that flipped open to load everything from cars to oil-drilling gear. The 747 went on to rack up 1,571 orders over the decades—second among wide-body jets only to Boeing’s 777.

The Chicago-based company has lost about $40 million for each 747 since 2016, when it slowed production to a trickle, making just six jets a year, Jefferies analyst Sheila Kahyaoglu estimated. All told, Boeing has recorded $4.2 billion in accounting charges for the 747-8, which has been kept alive as a freighter. The 747 notched its last order as a passenger jet in 2017—for Air Force One.

The coronavirus pandemic is hastening the end of the behemoths as people movers. With travel not expected to fully recover until mid-decade, airlines are culling aging jetliners and four-engine jumbos from fleets to limit spending. About 91% of 747s and 97% of A380s are parked, Credit Suisse estimated.

The planemaker has just 15 unfilled orders for the 747—all freighters. A dozen of them are headed to United Parcel Service Inc., and the fate of the rest is unclear, part of a dispute with Russia’s Volga-Dnepr Group., 2 July 2020

Arno's commentary

The old saying, you can’t stop progress, has become quite evident with the big plane makers Boeing and Airbus. Bigger is no longer better, but faster and cheaper is the shortest way to profits for airlines. While the two major airline manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, had held the duopoly in the past, now with smaller two-engine passenger aircraft, there is more competition on the way, particularly from China. To be globally competitive, such gigantic corporations must adapt and change. That was also the case in the last few decades of the 1900s, when the US had to adapt from producing motor vehicles with gigantic V8 motors, to match the world market with 4- and 6-cylinder internal combustion engines. Next in line are electric vehicles. All these serve to make the world more even, more equal, which will lead to a global economy, global finance, and global government. 

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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