It’s a disturbing thought, but according to a recent review of the world’s Boeing 747-400 fleet around one out of every 11 is currently grounded. Figures amassed by California-based consultancy 7Seas Aviation, show some 64 airframes are either in storage, awaiting potential scrapping, or are in line for conversion to a freighter. This grim statistic means that just over 10% of the active -400 fleet are laid up, the largest number since the first 747-400 was grounded in the aftermath of 9/11.
The figures show that 40 of the stored are passenger models, 23 are freighters and one is being converted into a VIP configuration. This is four times as many as at the start of 2009 and three times more than 2004 when the inactive 747-400 fleet peaked at 4.1%.
747-400Fs in storage at Victorville, Calif. (Guy Norris)
To see the numbers in more detail you can view this spreadsheet prepared by 7Seas’s Robert Grundy. Robert’s recently inaugurated site contains many such fleet updates as well as daily commercial jetliner news and is expected to expand steadily in the future.
There is some glimmer of hope for the freighters at least according to Robert. In his comments he says “since Nov 1st, two freighters (Martinair & EVA Airways) have returned to service, and it is likely that the freighters will now trickle back to service, in line with a modest recovery now under way.” Boeing will certainly hope so as they ramp-up towards the start of flight tests of the even larger 747-8F.
How many -400s will soon share the unfortunate fate of this 747 at Victorville? (Guy Norris)
The sight of dust gathering on passenger models in the desert is not good news for either Boeing or Airbus. With both manufacturers hoping to replace earlier 747s with 747-8 Intercontinental models or the A380, they will be wishing that just like another desert phenomenon –the mirage – this image vanishes as quickly as it seems to have appeared.