End may be near for new 747s


A factory close-out sale in California may be the piece that seals the fate of the Boeing 747 after more than 50 years of production. The factory, owned by Triumph Group, has been building the fuselage sections for the planes since 1966. The company has been losing money on the contract for several years.

Loss of Triumph means Boeing will either have to invest in building those parts, as well as aluminum skins and more, or stop making the plane once current orders are filled. With pressure on the company's cash now because of the 737 stoppage, that's not likely unless some really large orders show up.

All 747s now on order are freighter models; the picture above shows one of the reasons they are loved by cargo carriers. The last passenger model went to Korean Airlines in 2017. Boeing has 18 unfilled 747 orders due for delivery over the next three years, most of them to UPS. But lightning could still strike: the 767 line almost closed, only to be saved by large orders from the military, UPS and FedEx.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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I vividly remember the first time I saw a 747 when they were new, low over the bay coming in to SFO.  It appeared to be going too slowly to stay in the air, so much bigger than anything I'd seen before.  My dad, a Lockheed engineer/designer & airplane nut since childhood, was with me and probably more thrilled than I was.  As he might say, after all these years the 747 doesn't owe Boeing a thing.

I remember seeing my first 747 when in my early teens.  My father made a special trip to Winnipeg so that we could see one land and take off.  Hundreds of people there to catch the sight.  Still remember that day.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

I'm not sure I remember the first time I saw one, but I certainly remember my first flight. I think the largest plane I'd been on up to that time was a 707, and between the vast expanses and (relatively) high ceiling, I felt a little like Alice just after falling into the rabbit hole.

When you compare the thoughtful ways, over the years, in which the 747 developed and the new uses developed for it with the way the 737 appears to have just grown like Topsy...well, I think there's something there for all of us to think about.

Years since my last time on a 747, but even in 'cattle class' it seemed much more special than a ride in an A380.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations