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.
SWISS has signed on the dotted line earlier this morning and has taken delivery of their first 777.
Later this afternoon, ‘HB-JNA’ will depart Paine Field in Washington at 1:35p (local PAE time) and head for Zurich where she’ll be greeted with a bit of fanfare over the next few days. This is the first of 9 777 aircraft that SWISS is set to receive.
For those of you wishing to check in on her flight, you can track it as flight LX7771.
For related posts covering the LX 777s, please click on the following:
Part II will focus on the actual flight which amounted to approximately 9 hours of ‘Avgeek’ bliss. When else can you have most of a 747-8i aircraft available at your disposal to explore? I spent more than a few minutes playing with cabin lighting controls, galley equipment, and the like. Like a kid in the proverbial candy store……
One of the biggest and most obvious differences with this flight is the fact that the Economy Class cabin was void of any seating so it gave us a perspective that most will never have and hopefully my photos capture some of that. The two observations that come to mind is realizing just how big the 2 economy cabins are and the amount of curvature of the fuselage at the back of the aircraft. It is one thing to see the curves from outside the aircraft, its another to see the perspective from within cabin.
As I mentioned in Part I, approximately 70 passengers were aboard the flight and most of them were Boeing and Lufthansa personnel along with a few members from the German media. I believe I may have been the only American aboard the aircraft that represented the US Media (scary thought isn’t it?).
About an hour before the flight, the pilots and cabin crew boarded the aircraft to prepare it for passengers. In speaking with the cabin crew, it was the first time that any of them had been on a delivery flight so they were looking forward to the experience as much as we were. Their biggest concern was making sure that the Lufthansa hospitality would be the same as conventional flights. They would not disappoint…..
D-ABYT’s Log Books and Manuals were brought aboard with the flight crew.
With an open Business Class seating policy on the main deck, it was fairly a quick and efficient boarding process. As I mentioned in part I, the Boeing Delivery Center is considered an airport and we were required to pass security screening just as if we were at a typical airport.
Once passengers were seated, the cabin crew took over and proceeded to treat it like any other flight which included a choice of pre-departure beverages including champagne, water or juice and a small snack. Soon after the beverage service, the IFE played the familiar Lufthansa Safety Video, the aircraft was pushed back from the gate, and we would be underway.
Departing from Paine Field is obviously a very unique experience since it is unlike any airport that most people will ever see. Covering the ramp area are essentially billions of dollars of brand new aircraft, many who may have only flown once or twice as part of Boeing’s testing regiment to ensure air worthiness. In addition, there are several aircraft that are dressed in their ‘greens’ and have yet to have their engines started or be painted. It is certainly a one-of-a-kind place and any self-respecting aviation enthusiast should visit at least once.
As we were brought out the threshold of Runway 16, the ground crew did something that I’ve never seen before (obviously…). Most of you are familiar with the red ‘Remove Before Flight’ flags that are usually attached to points that require inspection before the plane can depart. In our case, the ground crew had removed all of these flags from ‘YT’ and had laid them out for the pilot to confirm that all flags were accounted for. These flags were then loaded on the aircraft and this specific set will stay with the plane for as long as it is in service.
D-ABYT’s personal set of “Remove Before Flight” Flags.
Boeing’s Ground Crew sends us off…..
Once we were under our own power, the aircraft entered the runway where we sat for a few minutes allowing the engines to come to temperature. Once cleared, we rolled down the runway towards Frankfurt and since I intentionally picked a window seat, I was able to record the departure.
How many departure videos from Paine Field have you seen from inside the aircraft? In the video clip below pay special at the 1:55 mark of the video…… our pilot executes a ‘Wing Wave’ much to the delight of passengers. Apologies for a few moments where the video blurs, I was paying more attention to the outside than to the view finder.
Once at cruising altitude, the flight really took on a unique flavor. The flight crew was quickly taking care of dinner service so those wanting to rest or work could do so quickly. The catering was provided by Boeing and I must admit it was very good. Considering that the aircraft’s galley equipment was not yet operational, insulated trollies were used to store the meals. We even had the option between Steak (which turned out to be Filet) or Fish along with a favorite local beer. I went with the Filet.
You don’t need bone china to enjoy a meal!
Once dinner was over, I would spend the majority of the flight exploring the aircraft and enjoying the company and conversations with Boeing and Lufthansa personnel. It turned into a valuable opportunity to network and gain insights that are not normally available outside the companies.
As I mentioned earlier being aboard this flight provided perspectives that most passengers will never have especially when it comes to having access to empty cabins and cabin equipment. Hopefully the photos will do their job and give you an idea of just how unique this experience was for me. I’ll end my words here and let the photos tell the story. I’ll come back with Part 3 that will look at various bits of outstanding swag that was given to us, along with what is possibly the best and most complete amenity kit that I’ve ever seen. Stay tuned!
Looking towards the rear of the aircraft in the rear Economy Cabin.
The Rear Economy Cabin. The rope down the center is there to hold on to in the event of turbulence.
Looking towards the front of the aircraft from the rear Economy Cabin. The curve of the fuselage is apparent without seats.
The ‘forward’ Economy cabin….notice the leg room? The front part of this cabin will feature the Premium Economy seats.
The upper deck Business Class cabin.
A pair of Ovens and Coffee Makers. Cost of the coffee makers? $12,000 each.
Having no seats to contend with, I had the opportunity to capture angles and scenes that would normally not be possible had the seats been installed. The following shots of the wing and engines would be difficult to take if seats and passengers were in the way.
I Even had the chance to witness the ‘Northern Lights’.
Capturing sunrise from the cabin. This angle would not be possible with seats in the way.
The engine is as much a piece of art as it is an engineering masterpiece.
Same engine, now at sunrise over the Atlantic.
The substantial curvature of the right wing is impressive.
On March 25 I was invited to take part in the delivery ceremony and flight for Lufthansa’s penultimate 747-8i, D-ABYT. What makes this 747-8i a bit more special than her peers is the fact that the aircraft was painted in a livery that was used on Lufthansa aircraft in the 1970s and 80s. In some circles, it is referred to a ‘Retro-Jet’ or ‘Retro-Livery’.
The timing of this delivery was designed to compliment Lufthansa’s 60th Anniversary Celebration event that was to take place on April 15 in Frankfurt, but due to Germanwings tragedy the event was cancelled out of respect for the loss of life in the crash. It is also because of the crash that I delayed publishing any content related to the delivery flight out of respect to the situation.
Lufthansa’s D-ABYT at Boeing’s Everett Delivery Center
Boeing’s crew puts the finishing pre-flight touches on ‘YT’
The delivery event at Boeing’s Everett Delivery Center had a muted and somber feel to due to the crash. Initially, plans had called for a ‘Ribbon Cutting’ ceremony on the ramp next to the aircraft to celebrate the occasion along with a bit of ‘pomp’. However, Boeing and Lufthansa decided to hold a much simpler ceremony indoors where the Captain of the delivery flight, Uwe Strohdeicher and Boeing’s head of their 747 program, Bruce Dickenson each signed a ceremonial Purchase Certificate during a Luncheon hosted by Boeing at the Delivery Center.
Capt. Strohdeicher speaks to the strength of the relationship that exists between Boeing and Lufthansa.
Capt. Strohdeicher and Bruce Dickenson ahead of the signing ceremony.
As I mentioned earlier, this delivery event was more special than what is typically involved for a delivery flight. Usually only a handful of people (5-7 including pilots) are on a delivery flight and they are usually airline or Boeing employees that are onboard to monitor the aircraft. For this event however we nearly filled the Business Class cabin on the lower level. Lufthansa invited several members of the German press to cover the event and Boeing used this delivery flight to reward some of their colleagues who had worked specifically on this aircraft with a 4 day trip to Frankfurt to visit Lufthansa and to take in the city.
You’re asking who sat in the 8 First Class seats? Boeing and Lufthansa awarded those seats to Boeing employees through a lottery selection. If someone pulled a piece of paper from a hat with a star on it, they sat in front. A nice gesture to recognize employees who worked from start to finish on ‘YT’.
Soon after lunch, we prepared to board the aircraft for the flight to Frankfurt which was handled like any other international flight leaving the USA. The Everett Delivery Center has 2 Gates that handle Boeing delivery flights and is technically regarded as an airport. Both gates are equipped with a security check point complete with TSA staff who X-ray luggage and screen passengers through metal detectors (and no, there is no Pre-Check lane 😉 ). After clearing security, your credentials and passport are checked to make sure you are authorized to be on the flight.
Once through the process, I was allowed to board the aircraft and was able to choose any available Business Class seat available on the lower deck. I was among the first 10-15 passengers to board, so it was easy to find a seat. I wound up sitting in 4A but I use the term ‘sitting’ loosely since I spent only an hour or so actually in the seat. For most of the flight I was simply ‘taking in’ the aircraft, inhaling that ‘new airplane’ smell, and enjoying the fact that we had open access to most of it.
I’ll end Part I at this point since I want to dedicate an entire post to the flight itself. In Part II, I’ll go into far more detail about the onboard experience including delivery flight dining, an economy cabin with no seats, the fantastic Boeing Swag Bag, and other bits and pieces from an amazing experience.
Today (February 19) marks another important milestone in the evolution of Lufthansa as a major global airline.
On February 19, 1965 Lufthansa announced it would be the “Launch Customer” for Boeing’s 737. The initial order for 21 aircraft would be the first time that a Non-US based carrier would be a launch customer for a new model from Boeing. Over the course of time, Lufthansa would ultimately operate 155 737s. The cost of initial order was 65 million US dollars. Adjusted for 2014 it would be valued at approximately 475 million US dollars. The first Lufthansa 737 entered service on February 10, 1968 and LH would ultimately operate 155 737s over the years.
This was the first time that a jet was being designed specifically for short haul markets. Previously, jets were primarily used for transcontinental travel, but with the emergence of air travel’s popularity, it had become necessary to provide jet service on shorter distances. In Boeing’s development of the 737, Lufthansa played a vital role in the engineering of the aircraft. Professor Gerhard Holtje, Lufthansa’s board member in charge of engineering at the time was instrumental in the design of the new aircraft that would become the work horse of airlines the world over. This also put Lufthansa’s mark on the map as a significant and influential member of the airline community.
Some interesting facts:
* Approximately 8100 Boeing 737 (including various derivatives) have been manufactured.
*Boeing still builds approximately 45 737s EACH Month!
* There is a 737 landing or taking off every 5 seconds.
* 737’s have carried over 12 billion passengers
* 737’s have flown approximately 65 billion miles (120 billion km)
* The 737 represents approximately 25 percent of the global airline fleet.