economy Out of the 747

531 days after the A380, Boeing buries the “Queen of the Skies”

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Gerhard Hegmann

The last “Queen of the Skies” will be built in 2022

More than 50 years after its maiden flight, Boeing ceased production of its legendary 747 jumbo jet. CEO Calhoun justified the step with the market development. Recently, the production rate was only 6 machines a year.

The US aircraft manufacturer will stop producing the 747 jumbo jet in 2022. The European competition will already close its giant Airbus production next year. It is not just the crisis that is responsible for the end of what is, for some, the world’s most beautiful aircraft.

ASaying goodbye to an icon of aviation: orders for the Boeing 747 Jumbojet have been declining in recent years. The corona pandemic with huge losses for the airlines and the crisis of the aircraft manufacturer Boeing have now sealed its end.

As Boeing boss Dave Calhoun announced, the group will stop producing its most famous model 747 in 2022. The aircraft, often referred to as the “Queen of the Skies”, would be delivered for the last time 53 years after its first flight.

Boeing currently has only a dozen orders for the 747 as a freighter. In the end, only six copies were made each year, and Boeing has to save.

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The announcement by the Boeing boss comes exactly 531 days after Airbus also announced the end of Europe’s Jumbojet A380. The next year, a giant Airbus will be delivered for the last time, which outperformed the American jumbo jet as the world’s largest passenger aircraft.

The Europeans had actually started to show that their giant bus sealed the end of the American jumbo. But Boeing resisted. Now comes the end for both models.

America’s jumbo then transported passengers worldwide for five decades until production ended. The giant airbus is only 14 years old.

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Both aircraft manufacturers assure that they will continue to take care of their giant planes in the future. So the jumbos should continue to fly, even if no more copies are built.

The trigger for the death of the aviation dinosaurs is the high cost of aircraft with four engines. Modern wide-body jets have two giant engines, even if they cannot carry quite as many passengers as a 747 and certainly not as an A380.

In addition, there are more and more point-to-point connections instead of transfer solutions via large airport hubs. Therefore, there were also utilization problems. The engine manufacturers also do not want to invest billions in the development of new environmentally friendly engines for the jumbos.

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The Corona pandemic and the bleak prospects for the further development of aviation also brought the Boeing Jumbojet to a definitive end. It is becoming increasingly clear that aviation is recovering more slowly from its historically largest crisis than expected. While in the past hundreds of different sizes of aircraft were ordered, new orders are now a rarity.

Anyway, the end of the 747 jumbo comes as no surprise. Airlines have recently been sorted out, such as KLM, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. The Australian airline Qantas recently also parked its last 747 in the large aircraft cemetery in the California Mojave Desert.

The well-known airlines with a 747 fleet still include Lufthansa, which still has 19 copies of the most modern version 747-8 and has shut down half of the previous ten copies of the older model 747-400 as part of the current cost reduction. Of the 747 jumbos, many models are still in operation as freighters and no longer as passenger aircraft.

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For many aviation enthusiasts, the Boeing 747 Jumbojet is considered the most beautiful aircraft in the world and a pioneer for global aviation tourism. The starting shot for the development of the aircraft was given by a dialogue between the then chief of the US airline PanAm, Juan Trippe, and the then Boeing chief, William Allen: “If you build it, then I will buy it.”

At the time of its maiden flight in February 1969, the 747 was the largest passenger aircraft in the world. In contrast to the Airbus A380, Boeing has been developing 747 versions of different sizes for decades. The plane also became a source of profit for Boeing.

However, the group is currently in the biggest crisis in its history. For one thing, the ban on flying the 737Max after two crashes is a burden. On the other hand, there are practically no new orders due to the corona pandemic.

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The bottom line was a loss of around $ 2.4 billion in the second quarter, the US aviation giant said. Boeing also announced it would continue to cut production. The production of the future largest model, the 777X, is expected to drop to two machines per month.

The first machine is not expected to be delivered until 2022. In the same year, the last regular 747 jumbo rolls out of the factory hall. Boeing is also working on two new 747 special jumbos for the US President.