The Chart:

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 is Finished

Deliveries: 19
Net Orders : 0

Not an auspicious year for the 747.

There's talk of Silk Way ordering three new 747-8Fs. But there's also talk of Transaero not taking up their four orders because Russia's economy is in the crapper. None of this is official according to Boeing yet, but that's the general direction things seem to be taking now: two steps forward, three steps back.

2013, however, was a good year for the 747. So hopefully we'll get a rebound this year and have lots of good things to talk about for 2015. Things I'd like to see:

  • Asiana take up their orders
  • China Airlines buy into the 748
  • Air China top up of 3+ frames
  • Lufthansa top up of 5+ frames, as well as line 1435 being delivered to them
  • BBJ customer deliveries... get those things flying!
  • Turkish Airlines order for 10 or more
  • Korean Air entry into service
  • Line 1437 entry into service

Anymore on your list? Post them in the comments, and in the meanwhile, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Air China Delivery #4

Line 1510 RC069 B-2479 just flew off for Air China. This is their fourth frame, and early next year they're scheduled to start international service to New York City with them.

It's looking like 19 deliveries for 2014.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Boeing Makes 1500th 747 Delivery

Not really noticed by many is that with the delivery of line 1487 RC527 JA17KZ to Nippon Cargo Airlines, Boeing has made the 1500th delivery of a 747 into service. Note, this is not the 1500th 747 built, but the 1500th delivered to a customer. How do I figure?

  • Last 747-400 was line 1419.
  • Line 1 never delivered, but every other frame up to 1419 did, so that make 1418 deliveries.
  • Line 1487 is the 82nd 747-8 delivered.
  • 1418 + 82 = 1500, Quod Erat Demonstrandum

So congratulations are due. Congratulations!

JA17KZ will sit around KPAE in short term storage before she flies off to Tokyo in January. You might remember that line 1479 RC525 JA15KZ did the same thing at the end of last year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Some Not So Good News

Gimme the bad news first doc:

1.) Boeing is slowing down the 747-8 production rate from 1.5 frames a month to 1.3 frames a month. Or in other words, 18 frames a year to 15.5 frames a year. This stretches out the current backlog to about two years, but it's clearly not a good sign for demand. And even though that means the last currently ordered frame would be built in about two years (early 2017), the reality is that things are even more pressing for Boeing suppliers. They have to manufacture parts for 747s a substantial amount of time before a plane is completed, so the supplier backlog may run out in as soon as a year.

The 747 production line heading forward can probably be slowed down to about one frame a month, or twelve a year. This gives Boeing probably two more opportunities in the future to announce slowdowns before they would have to realistically address shutting down the line. With slowdowns like these, they can probably stretch the backlog out through 2017.

The other alternative is that Boeing needs to sell 15 frames a year to keep things chugging a long. Last year, they did pretty well, selling 12 net (17 gross) airframes. This year has been dire though, with a big fat zero net sales (two gross). After the Asiana cancellation, I'm losing confidence that they'll be able to sell any substantial amount of frames moving forward. There are still potential sales out there, but the longer things drag on with silence, the closer we get to the 778F, the less likely they seem to happen.

2.) Asiana NTU's were confirmed by Boeing. That'll be a total of four white tails, plus line 1437, which may or may not already have a customer.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Asiana Drama Bomba

The unofficial word is that Asiana was looking to buy four or five 747-8Fs. Lines 1501, 1502, 1520, and 1521 were supposedly earmarked for them, and it seemed to be going that direction, with line 1501 getting Asiana grey on her tail and nacelles.

The paint tells the story however, and now lines 1501 and 1502 have gotten full "white tail" paint jobs and look headed for a long stay in the desert under ownership of Boeing. Judging from this order of events, it seems the Asiana deal has been taken off the table.

This is sad. But more worrisome are the apparent conditions of this deal. Now, to be clear, this is all my speculation, but it seems Boeing built two freighters for an airline without a deal in place. If this was a standard deal, there'd be heavy penalties in place Asiana would have to pay if they cancelled. This seemed to be more of a good faith thing on Boeing's part, building first and assuming a deal could be worked out. That shows some desperation, not surprisingly, on the 747 sales front.

Because this is mostly speculation from what is observable, this could be inaccurate and Asiana could have just delayed the deal for half a year or more. But if they did cancel, why? They already operate the 747-400 freighter, including some very old and ill-favored 747-400BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter), so they would seem a prime target for the 748F.

Worst of all, now I'll have two more stored 747s to obsess over for the next god-knows-how-long...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Is She Or Isn't She?

Currently all four 747s in the FAL are for Lufthansa. As of now, these are the last four 747s for LH, and should all deliver in the first half of 2015.

Which brings up line 1435... A great picture of her came out the other day, and Boeing engineers are strapping engines back on, which means they're probably nearing completion of refurbishment. So is Lufthansa going to take her? That's still uncertain. At least the nacelles are still Lufthansa grey. I'm hoping for an official announcement with a top up order in the next few months.

Found on

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Line 1416, LX-ECV

How quickly a year flies by, and how fast those hours add up! Just over a year ago, after a stillbirth and over four years of desert storage with barely twenty hours on the clock, line 1416 entered into service with Cargolux as LX-ECV, . She's doing much better now, traveling the world, but mostly focusing on Europe to South America and back. Cargolux keeps her busy too. It's truly a happy ending (so far) for this formerly neglected frame.

Could she be the last 744 in service one day? Will she ever receive a full livery? We shall see!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Line 1437 Might Have a Home

Rumor is that Saudi Arabian Cargo will take a third 747-8F, and logically that'll probably be the sister ship to their current two frames: Line 1437 RC523 HZ-AI5 (the last of the three early Atlas NTUs). Makes sense, and I hope it happens. 1437 has been seeing some activity lately, so let's see if she gets a new paint job to confirm.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Deliveries Remaining for 2014

With the delivery of line 1489 RC528 JA18KZ to Nippon Cargo (just over a year after roll out!), that brings the total delivery count for 2014 to a meager 14. Here's what to expect for the remainder of the year:
  • Line 1485 JA16KZ should deliver to NCA in late November
  • Line 1487 JA17KZ should deliver to NCA in late December
  • Line 1507 B-2486 should deliver to Air China in November
  • Line 1508 B-2487 should deliver to Air China in December
Which will bring the total delivery count for 2014 to 18 frames; the current manufacturing rate. It's possible a couple more might slip in before 2014 ends, but unlikely.

In other news, a very exciting one year birthday is fast approaching... who could it be? :O

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Who Doesn't Love BBJs

There's been very little noise about them lately, but this recent article provides some update on the status of our (9) 747-8 BBJs. Parsed to correspond with the order of the chart's BBJ tab:

  1. Line 1434: Expected delivery by the end of 2015
  2. Line 1439: Expected delivery by the end of 2014
  3. Line 1440: Expected delivery by the end of 2014
  4. Line 1446: Currently stored and looking for a customer
  5. Line 1449: Expected delivery by the end of 2014 or early 2015
  6. Line 1459: Expected delivery by the end of 2014
  7. Line 1466: Expected delivery by the end of 2014
  8. Line 1468: Expected delivery by the end of 2015 2014(?)
  9. Line 1495: Expected delivery to BBJ early January 2015, so this one should be leaving storage in the next month or two. She'll probably go to Lufthansa Technique in January and deliver to the customer in late 2016.
So, the BBJ chart should start seeing some green by the end of the year. Unfortunately I can't get too excited about BBJs, as I've ranted about what a waste they are before... but I'm sure Boeing loves the money.

UPDATE: BBJ #8 (line 1468 RC008 VQ-BSK) is apparently done. She went up for a test flight and is pending delivery.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Air China #3 First Flight

Line 1508 (RC068) B-2487 for Air China just took off for the first time. She's unpainted, and just rolled out a little over two weeks ago. Quick!

Here's a bunch of pics of a dead spider watching...

Friday, October 3, 2014

GECAS Cancels Two Freighters

Judging by the updated Boeing orders page, two 747-8Fs were cancelled this week, and they must be from GECAS (General Electric Capital Aviation Services). Boeing shows a total backlog of 42 frames, 15 freighters and 27 passenger frames. That gives us:
  • (1) Cathay
  • (9) NCA
  • (3) Cargolux
  • (2) Korean Air Cargo
For a total of 15 freighters (ABC's order for one is still not showing on Boeing's site), and:
  • (4) Lufthansa
  • (10) Korean Air
  • (6) Air China
  • (4) Transaero
  • (2) Arik Air
  • (1) BBJ
 For 27 Intercontinentals. 

That freighter backlog is THIN! Especially considering they have four of them built and waiting for test/delivery, three unclaimed frames already built, two more claimed and two more unclaimed in the pipe. No matter how you interpret those numbers (for example, line 1437, and are the current unclaimed frames white tails or will they go to an existing customer if they can't be sold to a new one) that leaves a mere three to six frames left to allocate in the build order.

Surprisingly the Intercontinental has the stronger backlog right now. I still expect the Arik Air orders to be officially cancelled sometime in the future, and four of those frames are already built, so that leaves a backlog of about twenty frames to build.

With an official sales total of a big fat negative one frame for 2014, and about 1 1/2 years of backlog to build at the current build rate, Boeing needs to make things happen. For better or worse, there's going to have to be some substantial 747-8 news coming from them in the near term.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Two More Deliveries in September

It was a good month for the 747-8. Not only did Air China pick up their first, but Cargolux took another. Line 1490 (RC510) LX-VCJ is now in service, and she left with some flair...


Monday, September 29, 2014

Air China Gets a 747-8I

Today Air China became the second operator of the 747-8I, taking delivery of line 1499 (RC066) B-2485. Initially planned to fly short haul between Beijing and Shanghai and other Chinese cities, the international plan is still unclear for Air China's 748. Three more frames are soon to follow this year, with the remaining three frames being delivered next year.

The Man
Awesome shots by moonm

Update: Looks like international operations will start January 2nd 2015, Beijing to Frankfurt. I'm hoping Los Angeles isn't far behind, which it seems like it won't be.

Watch this bird come together:

And a great promo video:

Monday, September 15, 2014

It Came From the Desert, Part n

Line 1485 (RC526) JA16KZ for Nippon Cargo Airline returned from banishment to the desert today. It looks like NCA is making moves to accommodate their new frames and transfer over to a 747-8F majority fleet. Last year they returned 747-400 JA02KZ to its lessor (who just happened to sell it to Kalitta recently), and now they've unloaded JA01KZ and JA03KZ as well.

Those are some young 747-400s, and it looks like these aren't Boeing gifted trade in deals, being lease returns. I don't know the exact numbers, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are stiff penalties for returning a new 747 after eight years (or even worse, selling it if they own it, as market value on 747-400s has plummeted). So it's obvious that the 747-8 really kicks a 747-400's ass enough to make these moves desirable. Line 1485 will probably deliver after line 1489, but before 1487. And remember, NCA still has six more frames on order which have yet to even be allocated in the production list.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Cathay Pacific possibly taking more 747-8Fs

This article says they have three on order. They're trying to get out from under most of their 747-400Fs by trading them in to Boeing. Some of these 744Fs are quite new, and should create an excellent opportunity for second tier freight operators like Kalitta to replace their 747-200s and 747-400BCFs.

ABC Wants Another 747-8F, Quick

AirBridgeCargo has publicly stated they're taking a new 747-8F for delivery in October of this year. That's exciting news, but the interesting question is "Which one?". Here are the realistic options:
  • Line 1437 - The last remaining Atlas NTU still unspoken for. She's a bit heavy, but she's extremely available. Currently this frame is down in Victorville for some unknown reason. Could she be getting new engines and paint? Likelihood: HIGH.
  • Line 1485/7/9) - NCA has three frames prepared and waiting for delivery. Two are in storage in the desert, one is at KPAE. NCA has a history of swapping 747-400F frames with ABC. However, line 1489, the newest one and still at KPAE, was just painted in NCA colors after being bare for a year. This points to NCA still planning on taking all three frames. Likelihood: LOW
  • Line 1501/2 (Customer code) It's unclear who these frames are for. Originally they were suspected to be for Silk Way, but now one has a grey tail and the other is unpainted. They've both flown and are airworthy. My main reservation is that they have the same customer code, which indicates they're likely for the same customer. Unless something has changed. Likelihood: MEDIUM HIGH
AirBridgeCargo also stated they want to eventually move to an all 747-8F fleet. They currently have eight 747-400. One is set to be returned to the lessor, and it was just replaced by line 1376. All of ABC's 747-400 frames are quite young. If they're leases, that doesn't matter so much. This means there could be potential for six to eight 747-8F orders over the next few years.

UPDATE: Looks like the answer is - Line 1501 (RC671) VQ-BVR... which really makes me wonder what the hell is going on with line 1437.

UPDATE 2: Nope. Line 1505 (RC564?) VQ-BVR

Friday, August 29, 2014

Deliveries Deliveries Deliveries

Three deliveries in the month of August! Silk Way Airlines took two, finally. Line 1493 (RC641) VQ-BVB and line 1496 (RC642) VQ-BVC flew off to Azerbaijan and into service, one last week and one tonight.

Cawby pic of VQ-BVC leaving KPAE

Lufthansa took one today as well. Line 1503 (RC036) D-ABYQ flew into service as their 15th 747-8I.

That's ten deliveries for the year. There's still a lot of mystery and intrigue with where and when some of these newer frames are going. Stay tuned to the chart...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Korean Airlines First 747-8I Rollout

Today, the first 747-8I for Korean Airlines rolled out.

Cawby pic

Line 1506 (RC051) is scheduled to deliver next year, so prepare to see this frame sit for a long while. Nothing new. This frame begins a string of 747-8I rollouts. 13 of the next 14 frames to come out of the factory will be 747-8Is.

Silk Way seems to be inching their way closer and closer to a delivery. Both of their frames have flown the past two days, and they apparently have financing sorted.