Experts have already predicted Boeing will delivery its final 747 three years from now. But a new report out Thursday reveals that the company could stop taking orders for the plane sooner than that.
Boeing reduced the rate of production for its iconic 747 jumbo jets from 1.5 per month to 1.3 monthly last fall. At that rate, the company would finish up all the planes currently on order in 2 1/2 years, according to a Reuters report. It takes more than two years from the time Boeing orders the parts it needs for the aircraft to the final product, which means that the company could stop taking orders for the 747s sooner rather than later.
“I can see demand for the 747-8 in small numbers, but you have got to ask if they can keep the production line open if they don’t get some new orders,” said Tony Whitty, chief executive of UK-based aircraft re-marketing firm Cabot Aviation, told Reuters.
Boeing did not receive any orders for the 747 last year at all, and has only a few orders for the planes so far this year. That’s only a few months worth of work for the Everett assembly line.
The 747s are likely selling for significantly reduced rates as the company tries to hold out the production line as long as possible. Reuters cites sources saying the jets are selling for about 50 percent less than list price, or about $400 million each.
The company has an incentive to keep the 747 going as long as possible, though. If Boeing kills the 747 line, the company’s investors will have to take a $1 billion accounting charge.