Randy's Journal: Archives

23 June 2005

Timing

One of the key stories to come out of the Paris Air Show last week had to do with the future of the Boeing 747.

In a news briefing during the show, Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Alan Mulally told reporters that we'll probably decide later this year whether to launch the 747 Advanced. He confirmed that we've gotten "extremely strong interest" from airlines in the Advanced. Boeing Chairman Lew Platt shared that the Board of Directors may be discussing the project at a meeting coming up.

747 Advanced image

The 747 Advanced passenger and freighter versions continue to generate interest around the world.

You may remember that earlier this year there was talk of announcing the end of the 747 line. There's no more talk of that now, thanks in part to strong demand for the 747-400. Last month Nippon Cargo Airlines ordered a 747-400F. And right now there are 24 orders for 747-400s, both passenger and freighter versions. We continue to market this airplane to our customers.

As for the Advanced, we know there's a need for a 747 with greater seating and cargo capacity and an extended range. This stretch version of the airplane would take it from the current 416 passengers to about 450 passengers. There's a lot of interest in the freighter version as well.

The Advanced would have new engines, similar to those designed for the 787, plus other improvements such as a new interior and an enhanced flight deck. The 747 Advanced would be the quietest and fastest commercial airplane in the world.

No doubt the 747 Advanced with the new-technology GEnx engines in development for the 787 Dreamliner would be more efficient than the much larger A380 - in both passenger and freighter versions. The 747 Advanced would have the same range as the A380, while still fitting into today's airport infrastructure.

So what is it going to take to launch? Right now we have a window of opportunity. Our customer airlines want us to make a decision this year. And some airlines have told us that they also need to make a decision this year. So, the window requires we both come together at the same time.

If we launch late this summer, rollout would be 2008, with entry into service in 2009. A lot depends on the 787 engines. You wouldn't see a 747 Advanced until after the first flight of the 787.

But I think it's safe to say we're feeling positive about it. We've definitely had strong interest. The key thing now is timing.