Some sad news has crossed the airline industry this week: Boeing may stop building its famous 747-jumbo jet. That’s because it’s unclear if demand for big planes will be strong enough to justify the continuation of the series.
Here are additional details from The Wall Street Journal:
“The prospect of ending 747 production after years of weak sales would close a chapter of Boeing’s history that began when the humped jetliner won its first orders from Pan American World Airways five decades ago.
Boeing has delivered more than 1,500 of the jets since 1970, when the company introduced the plane.
Aviation historians credit the plane with making global air travel more affordable for most people. The huge number of seats, sometimes nearly 600 on some airlines, spread the costs across the large group of paying passengers.
The 747 has weathered industry downturns over the decades, including when Boeing nearly went out of business in the 1970s. The company’s last 747 production boom occurred in the 1990s. Peak output came early in the program, when the company delivered 92 of the jets in 1970. But the jet has been a constant for the plane maker and was a hallmark of the U.S.’s Cold War industrial prowess.
Boeing now plans to make just six of the planes a year, starting in September as it addresses a current backlog for 21 of the jets. Two are expected to serve the U.S. president beginning in 2023 after years of modifications, and will be known as Air Force One when the president is aboard, but haven’t been formally ordered yet by the Defense Department. A pair of older 747s in their distinctive white, blue and polished aluminum have been flying the U.S. presidents since 1990.”
Even if production of the 747 ends, the jetliner will be flying for decades as a host of major airlines have either received or will receive the latest iteration of the plane, the 747-8.