Sunday, 5 July 2020

The end of the line for the jumbo.........

The jumbo is coming to the end of the line.....


The US aviation giant Boeing along with its numerous suppliers agreed on the number of parts it would need for the last 747's to be built more than a year ago, according to industry sources reported Reuters this weekend.

If confirmed,  this would mean the end of the jumbo,  the hump,  the lump,  the big bird, the queen of the skies and the stalwart of long-haul passenger jet transport of the '70s and '80s, in two years time. 

Boeing President and Bill Allen and Pan Am CEO Juan Trippe (right) celebrate the launch of the Boeing 747 “Jumbo Jet” in 1968.Photo Boeing
For many a long year the instantly recognizable 747 has plied the major air routes of the world, first as a passenger jet and then as a giant delivery truck, which, it can be argued kept the production line ticking along, longer than should have been expected.

Now the end of the line for these big beasts of aeronautical wonder is in sight,  but not just insight,  it is just around the corner.  The last order for a passenger version came in 2017 -  but not from an airline,  but U.S. administration needing a recognizably American replacement for the modified 747-200s that became the Boeing VC-25s which are perhaps wrongly better known as 'Air Force One'.  So, a couple of 747-8 jets from cancelled orders are being repurposed, modified and made into flying command posts for the next U.S. President.


"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 fulfil our current customer commitments," The U.S. manufacturer stated, adding "We will continue to make the right decisions to keep the production line healthy and meet customer needs," is the official public line. Yet, there are just 13 frames left on the 'official' order books at this present time, but rumour has it this will be reduced to 9 before the end of the summer.

Yet, according to Reuters, a source from a supplier said he was not sure when Boeing made a formal decision to end the program but said the final number of ship sets - as complete sets of parts are known - was agreed to with the supply base at least a year ago. And with no more parts on the way, that would indicate after the current few frames are completed there will be no more.
 
The manufacturer has also removed language from recent financial documents indicating it would "evaluate the viability" of the rest of the 747 programme.  As sources in Washington state each aircraft is being made at a loss, it would indicate the future has already been decided for the jumbo. 

On top of an already vague future in a rapidly shrinking market place came this latest crisis of almost unimaginable magnitude that has crippled passenger demand the globe over. An event that has caused the mass grounding of the aircraft form airlines in all areas of this big old world of ours.  No nation or area has been left untouched by the pandemic, which is so harshly felt by those in the commercial passenger aviation world. And as broad border restrictions are lifted and the first few green shoots of an undoubtedly long recovery process start to appear, its clear airline are leaving their older, bigger, more fuel-hungry birds on the ground, either in storage or forever.

Photo Boeing

Photo Boeing









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