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posted by cmn32480 on Saturday July 30 2016, @05:04AM   Printer-friendly
from the old-tech-phased-out dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Six months after slicing production of the iconic Boeing 747 to just one plane a month, the aerospace company has decided to halve the rate of production and flagged it is close to killing off the plane.

A new Form 10-Q filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission spells out the ugly situation as “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.”

Boeing has therefore “canceled previous plans to return to a production rate of 1.0 aircraft per month beginning in 2019.”

The company still has “32 undelivered aircraft” on its books, some yet to be built. But it also has “a number of completed aircraft in inventory” for which buyers cannot be found.

Production of the 747 will therefore been reduced just six planes a year as of September 2016 and the filing makes it plain that Boeing knows it may soon have a difficult decision to make.

“If we are unable to obtain sufficient orders and/or market, production and other risks cannot be mitigated,” the filing says, “we could record additional losses that may be material, and it is reasonably possible that we could decide to end production of the 747.”

The 747 remains a fine aircraft, but twin-engine planes can now match it for capacity and, crucially, for long flights over areas where airports are scarce.


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  • (Score: 2) by mendax on Saturday July 30 2016, @07:09AM

    by mendax (2840) on Saturday July 30 2016, @07:09AM (#381905)

    The US Air Force buys retired Boeing 707's and keeps them in a boneyard so they they have spares for the KC-135 midair refueling tanker and the EWACS radar planes. Both are based on the 707, more or less. Omega Air, a private refueling tanker company, also uses retired 707's, and it got into 707 parts spare parts business in order to have a ready supply of parts. The same thing will happen with the 747's. And no doubt Boeing has a a warehouse or two full of parts, one that will last for a while.

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  • (Score: 1) by anubi on Saturday July 30 2016, @08:03AM

    by anubi (2828) on Saturday July 30 2016, @08:03AM (#381909) Journal

    I would not be too surprised, knowing how robotics is being integrated with manufacturing, if you have the CAD/CAM files for the part you want, have the machine make you one.

    I feel the day spare parts for older cars will be ordered from a few people who make anything you can imagine to order with the ease of a short-order cook. Stuff that has windings in it may take a little longer.

    Water pump for a 1948 Ford? Print one out, assemble, and ship.

    We are not quite there yet.... things like high stress parts such as turbine blades for the jets still need some work.

    Hopefully, Boeing knows which parts are literally consumables, and will make plenty of 'em while they have the facilities lined up to make them.

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    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Kell on Saturday July 30 2016, @04:50PM

      by Kell (292) on Saturday July 30 2016, @04:50PM (#381987)

      While that might work for automotive and consumer components, that most certainly does not work for aerospace, where the metalurgical treatment of the parts is as important as their geometry. We are not yet at the point where we are doing selective computer controlled thermal processing of parts (that I am aware of; although that would be fascinating). This is one of the things that stops third parties from simply measuring and replicating things like jet turbines and fighter aircraft.

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      • (Score: 1) by nethead on Saturday July 30 2016, @06:56PM

        by nethead (4970) <joe@nethead.com> on Saturday July 30 2016, @06:56PM (#382018) Homepage

        Very true. Also the non-metallic parts have to be flam tested and certified. Even the sticker telling you where your life-vest is has reams of paperwork behind it. At least a quarter of any aerospace shop is just QA people.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @04:50PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 30 2016, @04:50PM (#381988)

      ...until the part you want is the skin of the aircraft which has too many cracks to continue in service. Then the plane is done, and the other parts might be sold as used, to be fitted onto a different airframe with lower number of pressurization cycles.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by fustakrakich on Saturday July 30 2016, @03:29PM

    by fustakrakich (6150) on Saturday July 30 2016, @03:29PM (#381967) Journal

    Firefighters still use 70 year old DC-4s. They still have stacks of engines just as old that have never been unwrapped yet. The 747 can probably remain in service for a hundred more years. Some 80 year old DC-3s are still making money today. I think they should junk the A380 first, just for being so butt-ugly.

    What I remember most about the 747 is the dead quiet in 1st class (not upstairs though). Nothing made since comes even close, though I do suspect that the A380 is just as quiet in front on the lower level.

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