back to article Death of 747 now 'reasonably possible' says Boeing

Six months after slicing production of the iconic Boeing 747 to just one plane a month, the aerospace company has decided to halve the rate of production and flagged it is close to killing off the plane. A new Form 10-Q filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission spells out the ugly situation as “Lower-than …

Page:

  1. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Not just one working engine

    The requirement isn't to make an airport with just one engine working, it's to make it with one engine not working. The same thing for a 777 but completely different for a 747.

    Incidentally the ETOPS times for range from an airport are airline specific and each aircraft has to be individually certified for ETOPS use.

    1. PassiveSmoking

      ETOPS

      Engines Turn Or Passengers Swim

  2. Croc O'Dial

    The Clapham Omnibus went the same way.

    Pity. The 747 is a workhorse whose reliability and service life is legendary. Unfortunately, the horse-pulled Clapham Omnibus went the same way when horses did nothing more harmful than shovel hay in at one end and provide for roses from t'other. The invention of the new-fangled petrol-powered engine did for it as modern aircraft have done for the 747.

    When the last one rolls off the production line a lot of people will fondly remember the passing of a great aircraft.

    The B52 bomber was introduced in the 1950s and is still in service. Don't expect the 747 to disappear from the radar screens anytime soon. Except, unfortunately, for those still in service with Air Malaysia.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Clapham Omnibus went the same way.

      "[...] the horse-pulled Clapham Omnibus went the same way when horses did nothing more harmful than shovel hay in at one end and provide for roses from t'other."

      Even with gardeners paying boys to supply buckets of the stuff - there was still an excessive oversupply on the roads. The major pollution problem was an incentive to switch to apparently cleaner methods of propulsion.

    2. anothercynic Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: The Clapham Omnibus went the same way.

      "Don't expect the 747 to disappear from the radar screens anytime soon. Except, unfortunately, for those still in service with Air Malaysia."

      And your meaning of this is...? MH370 was a B773, *not* a B744.

      *eyeroll*

      1. yoganmahew

        Re: The Clapham Omnibus went the same way.

        It's Malaysian Airlines, not Air Malaysia.

        1. russsh

          Re: The Clapham Omnibus went the same way.

          Actually, either Malaysia Airlines or (formerly) Malaysian Airline System.

    3. theoa

      Re: The Clapham Omnibus went the same way.

      "The B52 bomber was introduced in the 1950s and is still in service."

      The B52 - military aircraft in general - fly a lot less hours each year than passenger planes. That means the airframes of the B52 have much less wear on them. Fuel cost is also much less an issue for the military.

      Even so, the number of B52s still flying is way down from a few decades ago (less than a hundred are still in service), and every couple of years a new plan is launched to re-engine the Buff with 4 newer and more economical engines to replace the 8 ancient ones.

      "Don't expect the 747 to disappear from the radar screens anytime soon."

      No it will not.

      But the passenger versions are already disappearing in large numbers.

      The freighters will probably keep flying for the next 2 decades or so.

    4. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: The Clapham Omnibus went the same way.

      The C-47/DC-3/Dakota would be a better example than the B52, because they're mainly (only?) used in civilian service these days. The last ones were produced in the 40's but there's still hundreds still in regular use.

      The tenth DC3 ever made is still in regular commercial use!

  3. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Last Chance To See

    I still haven't flown in a 747. I hope that I tick this box before they finally go out of service.

    1. uncle sjohie

      Re: Last Chance To See

      Actually, they aren't all that great to fly in anymore. To me at least, the A340 is a lot more comfortable (especially less noisy), and the denser seating in economy means the spacious "feel" of a 747 is something of the past. Ditto the 787, and to a lesser extent the 777 regarding the noise. Our trip to Cuba from Amsterdam in the 787 from TUI was nice because the advertised better internal climate of the 787, due to lower cabin pressure and slightly higher humidity, was indeed noticeable, but the noise felt the same as a modern 737, and louder than the 340 I flew in to Amman a few years ago.

      1. JasonLaw

        Re: Last Chance To See

        The A380 is definitely the best of the best in terms of cabin experience. I've flown three different carriers and all four classes on the A380 and it's never been less than superb. I flew in a 4-week old B787 a few months back and it was in the same class as the 380, but not quite as good, IMHO.

        The 747's are showing their age in comparison. When I first started doing long-haul, I was super excited to be on a jumbo jet. But now, my heart sinks a little when I see it on the gate. Noisy, cold and frequently a little tired around the edges.

        1. lglethal Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: Last Chance To See

          "The A380 is definitely the best of the best in terms of cabin experience. I've flown three different carriers and all four classes on the A380 and it's never been less than superb."

          Avoid Air France if you want to keep that feeling!!! Even they can make the A380 experience terrible. I've flown the A380 with other carriers and it was as superb as you say, but my one experience with it on Air France was truly, truly awful...

          1. DrBobK

            Re: Last Chance To See

            Air France seem to be able to make anything terrible.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Last Chance To See

        "[...] and the denser seating in economy means the spacious "feel" of a 747 is something of the past."

        Flying BOAC 747 London to Jo'burg in 1972 - everyone in economy had a window seat if they wished.

        The 1973 Middle-East oil price hikes changed all that. On the return flight in 1974 the SAA 747 was packed to capacity - going the long way round with a refuelling stop at Luanda.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: Last Chance To See

          Same here flying out of Miami the day the Dolphins played in the superbowl. More crew that PAX on that flight. Well, it was PAN-AM so that was to be expected.

          As for Air France. They are able to make even the best aircraft fell shitty even when brand spanking new.

          Even Air Madagascar was better than them when flying to Tana.

          1. lglethal Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Last Chance To See

            Funny how all of us who have bad mouthed Air France have been downvoted.

            Would the Air France employs lurking on the El Reg comments section please stand up? ;)

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Last Chance To See

              > bad mouthed Air France have been downvoted.

              In the old days at Galileo we always referred to them as "Air Chance"..

              They are (by far) the worst carrier I ever flew on. But at least they did manage to extend my stay in Bergen by a few days (and put us up in a nice hotel on the way there when their flight was delayed and we missed our connection at Schipol) by managing to make sure that our Sun E450 servers shipped with them (theoretically on the same flight as us) ended up somewhere in Germany instead of in Bergen with us. Which was nice.

              I suspect my colleage wasn't so sanguine - his luggage ended up in the same place but managed not to make it to us before we left Bergen. One reason why I now always make sure I have enough medication for my stay+extra in my hand luggage as well as some in my hold baggage.

              Best carrier was SAS (by a long way). Good food (for airline values of good), good seats, punctual and as much akavit as I could handle.

              1. bdeluca

                Re: Last Chance To See

                Air france initially refused to let me travel on a flight from singapore to paris on an Italian passport because I didn't have a visa to France. They wanted me to buy an ticket to Italy.

                After many hours of arguing the finally decided that I could fly. So many WTFs that day.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Last Chance To See

              "Would the Air France employs lurking on the El Reg comments section please stand up?"

              They already are.

            3. Allonymous Coward
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Last Chance To See

              Would the Air France employs lurking on the El Reg comments section please stand up?

              Oui! It is I, LeClerc!

      3. Dabooka Silver badge

        Re: Last Chance To See

        @Uncle

        I flew a 787 last summer to Borneo, lovely plane alright but they could learn a thing or two from Airbus about the seats. The one thing that annoyed me was the head rests weren't hinged to offer head support when snoozing. I struggle to sleep on planes at the best of times, that lack of attention cost me quite a bit of kip!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Last Chance To See

          The seats are generally down to the carrier rather than the manufacturer. An identical plane from two carriers will have completely different interiors, following the corporate look and feel.

          The last 744 I was on was an ageing Qantas bird (VHOEB - yes I'm sad and I log my flights in flightdiary.net) and it was a great flight. Overnight from Tokyo to Sydney in the front row on the upper deck.

          Beware of the 787 - they're narrow and a lot of carriers provide 3-4-3 seating in the back, complete with in-flight entertainment boxes under the seats taking up all of your leg room. If you're in a fancier cabin you won't have an issue and you'll get a great sleep as they're quiet and the atmosphere is far better than the 747. Not been on an A350 but I suspect it has similar positives. The A380 is a great plane, although I'll admit I've only ever been upstairs.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Last Chance To See

            > complete with in-flight entertainment boxes under the seats taking up all of your leg room

            That's a problem on A330s too. I Got off a Qatar flight a couple of years back with an incredibly painful knee as a result of having to bend it at an odd angle for 6 hours to fit. (Medics' first suspicion was DVTs as I'd been unable to leave my seat the entire flight thanks to a "rather large" passenger in the aisle seat who downed a few drinks and passed out for the entire flight.)

      4. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Last Chance To See

      @Admiral Grace Hopper

      My first flight in 1970 was in a 747, Chicago to LA. My uncle worked for TWA, I was treated like a king on that flight. And he had a pretty good time too from what I remember! Sadly, I miss those golden days of air travel.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Last Chance To See

      > I still haven't flown in a 747. I hope that I tick this box before they finally go out of service.

      Go business class and get a seat on the upstairs deck. It's a small cabin with a 2+2 configuration.

      http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/British_Airways/British_Airways_Boeing_747-400_C.php

    4. AndrueC Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Last Chance To See

      I still haven't flown in a 747

      I did once. A few years back O'Hare had weather issues and we were delayed leaving San Jose. I thought I'd miss my BMI flight(*) back to Blighty so got them to put me on a later BA flight. That meant I ended up on the last 747 out of O'hare. It was quite impressive sitting in the middle with seats as far as the eye could see to left and right (well - almost :) ). The take off felt different as well. Kind 'lumbering' but with a sense of power. A bit like a charging elephant could be said to be 'lumbering' :)

      (*)That was the trip from hell. Arrived late at SJ to find horrendous queues at the terminal, stretching out onto the drop-off point. Managed to persuade a security guard to let us down to the check-in. Got through to departures only to discover flight on hold. Waited three hours in SJ departure lounge (thank you for your sympathy). Arrived late at O'Hare to discover BA flight being held for us. Misread sign and ran over to the wrong terminal. Ran all the way back. Got onto plane. Noted that my original flight was still there but in final boarding. New flight was still in 'delayed'. Sat on new flight for an hour waiting for more stragglers.

      Got to destination (London) and had to wait over an hour for the next BMI flight to Manchester (which is why I went with them originally). Finally arrived at Manchester after 25 hours without any real sleep. Suffered from 'land sickness' for most of the next day.

      When I contacted BMI to get the London to Manchester flight refunded they had no problems doing that but they pointed out that my original flight had left O'Hare about 15 minutes after I got there so I could've got home a lot earlier.

      Oh well.

    5. Tim 49

      Re: Last Chance To See

      The only time I've ever flown in a 747 me & the missus got upgraded to Thai's "Royal Executive" class on the way out to Delhi in '92 - very nice start to a holiday. Would happily not have got off at the other end. Spent the holiday wondering whether it'd happen on the way back, but no such luck.

      If you're into technology, https://www.itvv.com/ do really good cockpit DVDs & I've bought most of 'em: the Virgin Atlantic 747-400 is excellent, and the Virgin 747-200 shows how it was done in the days of steam. The Cathy 747's not so good, but has an interesting section in the simulator. Best of the lot is, of course, Concorde, on two DVDs.

      The A320 simulator DVD's also good, with Alan Dix demonstrating rejected takeoffs & colourful ties.

    6. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Last Chance To See

      @Admiral Grace Hopper, British Airways is still the largest B744 operator on the planet (with 39 planes), so you can nab a nice flight with them (if you have the new cabin, the World Traveller+ seats are lovely). Flights include Accra (Ghana), Beijing, Boston, Chicago, Cape Town, Denver, Dubai, Johannesburg, Kuwait, Las Vegas, Mexico City, Miami, Nairobi (Kenya), JFK (obviously), Phoenix, San Diego (this is the newest route), Seattle, Toronto and Washington DC.

      1. Pedigree-Pete
        Coat

        Re: Last Chance To See

        No Air France employees yet but I think I've spotted a BA Marketing hack...PP

      2. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Last Chance To See

        I love the 747 for these flights - even with BA's pack-em-in mentality and grim deep blue decor they feel more airy than the 777. But I haven't seen one on the Nairobi route for a while, it's been a clapped out 777 recently which I presume are being decanted from Transatlantic flights now the 787s are arriving.

      3. mrbawsaq

        Re: Last Chance To See

        I always try to fly BA (for the Avios points) and will take a 747 if I can, just because I know they won't be around forever. And when they are gone, I'll miss them.

        Next trip on a 747 is in January to Boston.

  4. Jan 0
    Headmaster

    Iconic?

    Isn't the icon the 707 which set the style for this kind of passenger aeroplane with 4 pylon mounted jet engines?

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Iconic?

      Ummmm, no. The 707 revolutionised jet travel, yes. But it was not iconic in the same way as Juan Trippe's plans for the 747 and the subsequent revolution in making jet travel affordable to hoi polloi!

      :-)

  5. Alister Silver badge

    I wonder what percentage of all Jumbos manufactured are still flying?

    It used to be said of the old Series Land Rovers that more than 80% are still on the road, I wonder if the same is true of old 747s.

    1. Geoff May (no relation)

      A couple of years ago there was a celebration for the 1500 aircraft built. I believe it was a Lufthansa aircraft.

      Not sure how accurate this statement is but it was the best I could find at short notice: https://www.quora.com/How-many-747s-are-still-in-active-service

      If that is accurate, then we are probably talking about 40% still in use.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Most of the 747s you'll see nowadays are the -400 or -8 models. Occasionally if you're lucky (and consider such things to be luck) you'll see an older one. I spotted the Bahrain Royal 747 SP at Heathrow last year. Weird seeing such a small one.

        When passenger planes go out of service they are often sold on to other carriers or to freight companies, where they are suitably converted.

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          @AC

          If you feel like flying to Tehran, you can still get an Iran Air 747SP... ;-)

    2. Magani
      Happy

      Land Rovers?

      @Alister

      "It used to be said of the old Series Land Rovers that more than 80% are still on the road..."

      Some Japanese 4WD enthusiasts have been heard to say that it's because they've all broken down.

      You may well think that, but I couldn't possibly comment.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "I wonder what percentage of all Jumbos manufactured are still flying?"

      What kills jets is flight cycles. The constant pressurisation/depressurisation means that they have to be retired eventually, or risk the fuselage popping.

      The only older ones you'll see are non-commercial units with low use rates.

  6. AndrueC Silver badge
    Joke

    Six months after slicing production of the iconic Boeing 747 to just one plane a month, the aerospace company has decided to halve the rate of production

    So every month they produce half a 747. Can they fly with only one wing?

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      No, one month they build half of a plane

      The next month a quarter, Then one eight. Since they'll probably never get around to building the wings they'll have one giant arrow of which Zeno could be proud.

      1. Michael Strorm

        Re: No, one month they build half of a plane

        @ Francis Boyle; After a few years they'll be standing around, pointing out that the only thing stopping the plane being technically finished is the lack of a magazine holder on the back of one of the seats, and they're sure it's not illegal to fly without it anyway. Just then someone from production rushes in with that month's output, *half* of a magazine holder.

        Meanwhile, Zeno will be going "Ha ha ha! Aha ha ha ha ha! Muwahahahaha!"

      2. Alister Silver badge

        Re: No, one month they build half of a plane

        they'll have one giant arrow of which Zeno could be proud.

        And it still won't be able to hit a tortoise...

      3. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: No, one month they build half of a plane

        Zeno was a tosspot. The limit of v * t, as t tends towards zero, is zero. If you plot the distances travelled by Achilles and the arrow against time, you see that at some point, the arrow has travelled further than Achilles (who starts some distance away from the archer, moving more slowly than the arrow). Meaning that some time in between, they must have met.

        The only thing remotely close to a paradox is that you spend increasingly long amounts of time, describing events that are taking place over increasingly short amounts of time, in an effort to avoid the unavoidable.

        Zeno came so close to inventing calculus, and yet decided that it was more fun to confuse stupid people by spouting on about this stuff than actually do anything useful with it that smart people might appreciate. That's knob behaviour where I come from.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge
      Coat

      No, it will have two wings, and renamed to a 373.5 with shortened wings.

  7. Adam Trickett

    Past their best

    Flown 747 many times trans Atlantic, never liked them, and always found them cramped, noisy and uncomfortable.

    I much prefer newer designs and Airbus in particular.

    I don't doubt that when they were new they were revolutionary, but that's before I was born, and that's a long time ago now... I can't disagree that they are iconic, famous and very numerous, but it's probably best to retire them for something better.

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Past their best

      Well, youngsters, I remember flying in one the first year they were rolled out and my, our eyes widened at the wonder of that second little deck and the size of the plane. It seemed gigantic. Monstrous.

      A pilot friend of mine says they are a dream to fly.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Past their best

        "It seemed gigantic. Monstrous."

        My first commercial flight was in a 747 in 1972. Didn't really see anything from the Heathrow loading tunnel - as it was a night flight.

        Next afternoon we disembarked in bright sunlight at Jo'burg. No tunnel - just old-style steps onto the apron. That's when I appreciated just how big the plane was - especially the engine nacelles towering above us.

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019