With airlines announcing new service to Paine Field, it will become easier than ever for ‘Avgeeks’ to reach one of the Meccas of Plane Spotting and the home to one of Boeing’s major campuses. It’s only taken 80 years to get us to this point!
In the past few days, United announced that they will begin operating flights to Paine Field in October 2018. Alaska made their announcement about service to the field earlier this year. It also appears that Allegiant will serve ‘PAE’ as well, but no official announcement from them as yet.
United’s announcement stated that they will bring six daily flights from Denver and San Francisco. Alaska thus far has announced 9 daily flights, but did not indicate where they would be coming from.
The Queen Of The Skies With Mt. Rainier In The Background
The re-opening of Paine Field to commercial operations has been a hotly contested topic in the Mukilteo area where the airport is located. Equal amounts of voices were for and against opening PAE to airlines. However, after the debates and legal challenges, the path has been laid to bring passengers to the field.
For us plane spotter types, this means it will be easier than ever to reach the birthplace of Boeing heavies and enjoy the views along the runway. What used to be a flight to Seattle, followed by a drive that is usually mired in heavy traffic from Seattle to Everett can now become a flight to PAE, followed by a 10 minute hotel shuttle bus ride to the Hilton Garden Inn located next to the field.
Earlier today, Boeing released its forecast for the commercial aviation market for the next 20 years. This typically discusses what Boeing sees coming for the industry including demand for certain type of aircraft and the demographics of future customers.
What was noticeably absent from the 2017 version of this forecast was any talk of the 747. They have acknowledged that the 747 platform is being wound down, without any serious orders forthcoming.
For the first time in decades, Boeing is now looking to a future driven only by 2-engine aircraft, primarily the 737, 787 and upcoming 777x platforms. The forecast suggest that the aircraft market over the next 20 years will require over $6 trillion in new aircraft deliveries.
D-ABYT prepares for her first ever flight, a B1 test flight at Paine Field.
Of course this makes all the sense in the world since technology has allowed 2 engines to do the work of 4, and deliver passengers to their destinations in more comfort and safety than ever before. But for the aviation romanticists in the world that have always seen the 747 as the most beautiful aircraft in the sky, such a sobering moment doesn’t pass easily.
In their comments, Boeing stated that they were simply being realists in their projections and see that the era of 4 engine aircraft is drawing to an end. I guess all that’s left is to enjoy the Queen of the Skies for as long we can….
Related: Lufthansa 747-400 Gallery
Lufthansa 747-8i Gallery
Boeing released their SEC 10-Q filing today and hidden among all the charts and commentary was a suggestion that our beloved 747 aircraft may be coming to the of her reign as Queen of the Skies.
In the excerpt below, Boeing talks about the lack of orders and a slow down in freight demand being the primary reasons that they are considering closing the 747 production line. Also reiterated was a previous announcement that 747 production would slow from 1 a month to .5 month in September, basically meaning that only 6 747s will leave Everett each year until production ceases. They also canceled plans to return to 1 747 produced per month starting in 2019.
From Boeing’s 10-Q Release on July 27, 2016:
747 Program Lower-than-expected demand for large commercial passenger and freighter aircraft and slower-than-expected growth of global freight traffic have continued to drive market uncertainties, pricing pressures and fewer orders than anticipated. As a result, during the second quarter of 2016, we canceled previous plans to return to a production rate of 1.0 aircraft per month beginning in 2019, resulting in a reduction in the program accounting quantity from 1,574 to 1,555 aircraft. This reduction in the program accounting quantity, together with lower anticipated revenues from future sales and higher costs associated with producing fewer airplanes, resulted in a reach-forward loss of $1,188 million in the quarter. The adjusted program accounting quantity includes 32 undelivered aircraft, currently scheduled to be produced through 2019. We previously recognized reach-forward losses of $885 million and $70 million during the second half of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016, respectively, related to our prior decision to reduce the production rate to 0.5 per month and anticipating lower estimated revenue from future sales due to ongoing pricing and market pressures. We are currently producing at a rate of 1.0 per month, and expect to reduce the rate to 0.5 per month in September 2016. We continue to have a number of completed aircraft in inventory as well as unsold production positions and we remain focused on obtaining additional orders and implementing cost-reduction efforts. If we are unable to obtain sufficient orders and/or market, production and other risks cannot be mitigated, we could record additional losses that may be material, and it is reasonably possible that we could decide to end production of the 747.
Keep in mind that these kind of disclosures are normal for companies as part of their Safe Harbor disclosures and basic ‘CYA’ strategies so that investors don’t retaliate will lawsuits suggesting they were mislead. But this is the first time that Boeing has had such ‘strong’ language in a 10-Q when it has come to the 747. Trust me, I read 10-Qs as part of what I do in real life, and the Boeing versions are among the ones that are at the top of my list when they are released.
With this kind of writing on the wall, I am of the opinion that the 747 has already been canceled in the minds of Boeing Executives. You don’t put this kind of language out to shareholders if you’re not serious. Today’s announcement is basically the warning shot so that we are not surprised when a future announcement makes it official.
This issue could potentially affect the Air Force order for the 2 or 3 747s that are slated to replace the current aircraft serving as the US President’s transport.
If I could write a fitting end to the 50 year legacy of the 747, I would close the program in dramatic fashion by having the last 747s to leave the production line to be the ones that would serve at the President’s pleasure.