October 18, 2013
Facing weakened demand for big passenger and freight aircraft, Boeing has opted to reduce the 747-8 production rate from 1.75 aircraft per month to 1.5 through 2015.
The move comes as the company passes the half way point of its accumulated order backlog for the aircraft, the vast majority of which are for the freighter model. To date, the 747-8 has accumulated 107 orders, 56 of which have been delivered.
The sustained slow down in the cargo market is the main reason for the cutback, even though Boeing’s market forecast calls for long-term average growth in the air cargo market to begin returning in 2014. Overall the company forecasts global demand for 760 large aircraft in the 747-8 and Airbus A380 category over the next 20 years, valued at $280 billion.
Boeing’s outlook for the 747-8 market could also be impacted by the development of the 777X, which is expected to enter service at the turn of the decade. For the moment Eric Lindblad, vice president and general manager, 747 Program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes says “this production adjustment better aligns us with near-term demand while stabilizing our production flow. Although we are making a small adjustment to our production rate, it doesn’t change our confidence in the 747-8 or our commitment to the program.”