22 APRIL 2013
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All good things have to end. Is the Boeing 747 about to reach the end of its life?
If true it will be a very slow death with passenger airline versions flying until at least 2030.
Boeing has announced a slowdown in production of the combined passenger and cargo versions to 1.75 per month (21 per year) from two per month. In simple terms, and without any new orders for the current 747-8, the last one will be off the Everett line during mid-summer 2016.
The Boeing 747 first flew 9 February 1969 (Concorde got airborne for its maiden flight a month later) and to date 1,464 have been delivered. In 1991, a record-breaking 1,087 passengers were airlifted to Israel from Ethiopia as part of Operation Solomon (plus one – a baby born during the flight).
The latest and perhaps final variant, the 747-8 family, provides airlines with double-digit improvements in fuel burn, operating costs and emissions, while being 30% quieter and adding more capacity. However, Boeing’s own 777 series provides much the same capacity but with only two engines. The larger Airbus A380, a slow seller, has certainly taken away some sales of the 747-8. But is the exclusive ‘bubble’ on the 747 more comfortable? www.boeing.com/commercial
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