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Photo provided by Hisham Qadri

Saying Goodbye to the Queen of the Skies?

In a filing report released Wednesday, Boeing said they are considering the possibility of ending the 747’s life. The company stated, “If we are unable to obtain sufficient orders and/or market, production and other risk…It is reasonably possible that we could decide to end production of the 747.”

This was noted in a Wall Street Journal report.

After half a century of production, the company is threatening to end the jumbo jet, nicknamed the “Queen of the Sky” due to its lack of sales in the recent years.

The announcement came after a rocky start for the new executive of Boeing, Dennis Muilenburg. Since his arrival in July of last year, the company has had its first quarterly loss in seven years. The company has also been charged nearly $3 billion US dollars for the 747 as well as delays on the Dreamliner and the new tanker program. Additionally, the company lost $234 million in 2015.

The 747 ‘s life started back in 1960 when executives from Pan Am went to Boeing with the crazy idea of building a double decker aircraft that could hold a large amount of passengers for a long distance. That crazy idea became a iconic legend when the aircraft first took to the skies in 1970. Since then, Boeing Co. has produced just over 1,500 jumbo jets.

In the early 2000s, the aircraft slowly started fading from the passenger realm as the airframes aged and more fuel efficient aircraft such as the 787 and A380 were introduced. Starting around 2011, the majority of Boeing’s sales for the 747 went to cargo airlines. Cargo airlines such as Cargolux, Cathay Pacific Cargo, and Lufthansa, continue to use the “Queen” for daily operations.

What does the potential halt on the 747 production line mean for Boeing and the airline industry as a whole? It means times are changing. Operating cost for the 747 are high compared to its newer rival, the Airbus A380, which is also struggling to stay alive in the market. Newer, lighter, faster, and longer range aircraft are being created, pushing the old gas guzzlers to the grave.

“On the 747 program, we decided to reduce future production expectations and revenue assumptions to account for current and anticipated weakness in the air cargo market. Despite the ongoing challenges of the air cargo market, we continue to see the 747 as a unique and significant value creator for our customers over the long term,” said Dennis Muilenburg.

Boeing said they plan to cut back production to six 747’s a year starting September of 2016. The company is currently producing roughly one aircraft a month.

Matthew Garcia
Matthew Garcia
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