Boeing Co. and suppliers set the final number of parts it would need for the 747 jumbo jet program at least a year ago, signalling the end for a plane that democratised global air travel in the 1970s but fell behind modern twin-engine aircraft, industry sources said.
Boeing’s “Queen of the Skies”, the world’s most easily recognised jetliner with its humped fuselage and four engines, marked its 50-year flying anniversary in February 2019, clinging to life thanks to a cargo market boom fuelled by online shopping.
But the end for the programne has been hanging in the air for years amid falling orders and pricing pressure. The COVID-19 pandemic has also crushed travel and demand for new jets.
The last order for a passenger version came in 2017, when the U.S. government asked Boeing to repurpose two 747-8 jetliners for use as Air Force One, ie aircraft that carry the U.S. president. Boeing declined to confirm that it was pulling the plug on the 747.
“At a build rate of 0.5 airplanes per month, the programme has more than two years of production ahead,” a Boeing spokesman said.