Bloomberg journalist Julie Johnsson reports today that Boeing Co. is pulling the plug on its iconic 747 jumbo jet, ending a half-century run for the twin-aisle pioneer.
The last 747-8 will roll out of a Seattle-area factory in about two years, a decision that hasn’t been reported but can be teased out from subtle wording changes in financial statements, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
The news comes soon after rival Airbus announced the upcoming end of its A380 jumbo after the final convoy of fuselage segments rumbled to its Toulouse plant last month.
Hence, the only two double-decker four-engine twin-aisle aircraft are likely to disappear from the skies, notwithstanding their popularity with travellers. The economics (and expensive oil) forced airlines to turn to twin-engine aircraft for long-haul flights. While Boeing’s 747 freighters may live on for some time, the A380 risks going down quickly as an epic dud.
Boeing’s “Queen of the Skies” debuted in 1970, an audacious bet that transformed travel but almost bankrupted the company. The 747 went on to rack up 1,571 orders over the decades.
The A380 could haul as many as 853 travellers and reflected Europe’s lofty aerospace ambition. But by the time it arrived in 2007, airlines were already tilting to smaller planes that burned less fuel.
The 747 notched its last order as a passenger jet in 2017: for Air Force One.
The planemaker has just 15 unfilled orders for the 747 — all freighters. A dozen of them are headed to United Parcel Service Inc.