The Chart:

Thursday, October 27, 2016

UPS orders 14 747-8s

UPS and Boeing announced an order for 14 747-8 Freighters today. There's an option for 14 more at a later date.

Well this came from out of the blue!



  1. As a B747 Captain with Atlas Air, I have been flying the -8 since June, 2012, when we received our first one (N850GT). With over 1,000 hours in the -8, I know the capabilities and efficiencies of the aircraft.
    This is great news, and backs what I have believed all along. No plane can replace or compete with it, and as the -400 get older, there is only one replacement option. ✈️

    1. But is that competitive? I have never seen a like for like comparison versus the T7 (77W, 779) All the ones I've seen were with the 747-400.

    2. UPS already has the 744, so there's commonality to jump into the 748. Going into the 777 might give them a unique size increment between their 767 and 747 fleets, but they'd potentially be stuck with a batch of 777-200/300s that they'd have to accept FAST (before the line ends), or "take a number" in the 777X backlog (which doesn't solve needs before then), or take a mix of both (nothing like buying two types of aircraft in one order, when you currently have relatively few aircraft types today).

    3. I think that the 748f was the right choice, Because of exactly that which you mention and also because nobody is building a competitor. Airbus don't have a Big freighter. In fact freight-wise the biggest frame they have is the A332F which is orders of magnitudes smaller. There are no Airbus quad freighters because all of them, even the A380, have not performed exceptionally well for there to justify building a freighter. For BCA to get the 748f (just the 748f now) to the point where it can offer UPS economies of scale is indeed an achievement on its own, even though it is somewhat backed up by a decades long supply chain of parts for older models. This order, despite UPS being a new customer, was a no brainer in my opinion because other 748F operators have been expanding this supply chain for years now.

      No, this program is not beat, despite what the doom and gloom being shoveled around.

  2. LN1535 RC651 has got her engines now:

  3. Can someone please put down a number showing what the 'real' backlog is, cuz some ppl are omitting the ABC commitment made this year. Thanks.

  4. At the end of October, ACAPSreader posted a great summary. It reads as follows:

    --- Quoting ACAPSreader from skyscrapercity ---

    This is my summary, as best I know it. If anyone knows better, please correct.

    Building now or in the next few months:
    3 747-8Is for Korean Air. This completes their order of 10.
    1 747-8F for Air Bridge Cargo (ln 1535), which needs engines and paint.

    Building in the next few months:
    3 747-8Fs for Air Bridge Cargo. This is part of their messy order for 20.
    1 unclear allocation (ln 1543). Currently, our 747classic's summary says it's unallocated. Who knows?
    1 747-8I (ln 1544). Who knows? It could be the first -8I for the VC-25A replacement order, but that's not clear.

    Beyond that:
    Air Bridge Cargo has an order for 20 -8Fs. However, it's not all new-builds and includes leases. It's also being handled in parts, so you won't find an order for 20 on Boeing's website. Two were ordered/delivered in November of 2015, and another four were firmed up in March 2016. It looks like, from the original MOU in mid-2015, the following parts of the order of 20 have been delivered or put in the firing line:
    ln 1501 (active)
    ln 1502 (active)
    ln 1505 (active)
    ln 1520 (active w/ CargoLogicAir, a subsidiary)
    ln 1535 (undelivered, needs engines)
    ln 1536 (active)
    ln 1540 (unbuilt, in firing order)
    ln 1541 (unbuilt, in firing order)
    ln 1542 (unbuilt, in firing order)
    That leaves 11 of the 20 to be filled over the next 5-6 years, but some could be leases of existing airframes, so it's hard to say how many more new -8Fs come out for Volga-Dnepr.
    Intrepid Aviation has an order for 2 -8Fs, just announced.
    UPS now has an order for 14 -8Fs.
    The USAF has an order for two (considering three) -8Is, but it's not a firm order on Boeing's order book yet.
    Iran Air an order for 4 -8Is. That could be new-builds, or it could come from the existing Transaero order, and/or it could include the orphan Luthansa ln 1535. Who knows at this point? The order isn't on Boeing's books yet.
    NCA still has 2 -8Fs left on its order, but there's speculation that they'll never take delivery of them.
    Not gonna happen:
    Arik Air has 2 -8Is on order. Probably will be converted to 777s or cancelled. Arik has some problems at the moment.
    Transaero Airlines has 4 on order (two have been built, two have not). Transaero is bankrupt, and Rossiya hasn't said they'll take the order. Who knows?
    So, how is the backlog?

    For the -8F, if Volga-Dnepr new-builds every single plane left on its order, including those on the firing order, and UPS completes its order of 14, and NCA takes their two, then we have a backlog of 32 freighters, or 5.3 years of production at current rates.

    For the -8I, if the USAF orders two, and Iran Air takes the Transaero order, including the two current white-tails, then we have a backlog of 4 Intercontinentals, or 0.7 years of production at current rates.

    Up to 36 planes and six years of production at 0.5 planes per month; it's certainly an improvement for Boeing, and shows how nervous they must have been getting before the UPS order.

    --- End quote ---

  5. I followed that up with the following, which expands on possible other additions to the backlog in the future.

    --- Quote gennadius on skyscrapercity ---

    A great summary. Very well laid out and well done from what I can see. Thanks for putting it together.

    In terms of other potential frames, I think there has been speculation of the following.

    Atlas Air, around one of their investor calls earlier this year, stated that they were in discussions for a potential follow up order of 747-8Fs.

    When the Chinese president was visiting the U.S. back in September of 2015, they reportedly firmed 300 orders, including 50 widebodies. There was a lot of chatter that the 50 included some 747-8s, with the most likely scenario being that they were Intercontinentals for Air China. Some of this may be fueled by the statement the president of China made where he said he would like to see 747-8s become the flagships of the Air China fleet. It is still possible that the rumored frames could be for another carrier or could be freighters, since nothing has been officially revealed yet.

    Cargolux, over a year ago now I believe, with their previous CEO, had stated that they were already in talks for another 5 frame order. However, with the air cargo growth flattening again later in 2015, and the change in CEO, perhaps this has been tabled for a while as well.

    --- End quote ---

    Beyond that, I'd say that all the ABC orders that are remaining, in my opinion, will be new builds. They will be a mix of leases and direct purchases, but I don't see them picking up 1437, which is the only remaining -8F NTU.

    I also feel that the rumors are pretty strong that IR, when firmed, will take the 2 UN NTUs, so that means 2 new build -8is. I feel this could be more if Iran orders more than 4.

    1535 and 1540 have been tentatively identified as ABC frames, as is 1543, but that is more speculative. 1544 is speculated to be the first USAF frame.

    I don't believe 1535 will be taken by anyone other than possibly a BBJ customer, and in fact, Boeing may use it for testing of the VC-25 replacement systems.

    I hope that the UPS stabilization of the line means that more of the rumored potential improvements from what used to be Ozark, as well as other enhancements that they were looking for customers for after that, end up being done. If not, at the very least perhaps the fact that the line is more stable now means that some potential orders may now convert into firm orders.

  6. Thank you Mario and Others for your Evaluations. It does shed some light on the program which has been muddled by all sorts.

    You mention project Qzark, but as yet there has been few or no descriptions of this secret work. There was some mention some time ago about a strengthened gear, and this was part of a package to improve the payload/range. There is no indication of what the Actual specs are for the 748I. The ones I've seen have been revised down to bring them in line with those of those of the 779.

    Having said that of course, the market for VLA pax planes is not good and airlines will take any available twin engine frame and max it out to their liking. This is all pointing to something and to me, Airlines couldn't care less about payload/range and desire lower overheads, which include the cost of financing. So if true, the logical step for this program would be to look for such incentives. It sounds like a no brainer, but they have tried 'everything' and it has not worked.

    So realistically what are they left with? I am somewhat reminded of the 747SP. Offering increased performance, which was remarkable for its time, but still a 747 with the same or similar cost base of the original, which is why it flopped. This cost base reduction can only be met by looking minutely into the details. That means stripping away the excesses and looking for a leaner way to do the same things. In my opinion, it is Only that kind of exercise that is worth pursuing at this point. Cutting out the Fat from the 747's cost base and the program as a whole is still an option, without going full board and offering an 'ER' or 'Max' version which will require spending more money.

    Of course, you must assume that there is zero increase in the performance and profitability, because these are bonuses, borne out of such incentives in the first place.

    It remains to be seen what they will do with it.

    1. I believe there were some good descriptions, at least for some of the major components, regarding what used to be called Ozark. A lot of it was weight savings, which was probably done anyway. The other items that they were probably waiting on commitments for included aerodynamic tweaks to the side-of-body fairings and other areas. Beyond Ozark, they were also pursuing customer commitments to try to get the 747-8 range back to the originally promised 8200nm value that they were targeting before LH requested the longer stretch. In order to do that they were going to have to increase the MTOW and in order to do that safely, they were looking at the strengthening of the MLG as well as a couple of other changes as well.

    2. Well it would be good to see the improvements in raw number form of early versus PIP or even a Post Ozark incarnation, if there is such a thing in the first place. Are the aircraft that UPS ordering some kind of block changer? With improvements from Ozark implemented for the 1st time? And if so will this attract the attention of some other operator looking for a replacement? If any at all? I'm sure that, spares aside, there must have been some other incentive to buy them, but of course UPS may have just wanted an off the shelf buy. Of course this is all speculation, and may just be a hill of beans.

  7. LN1543 RC531 and LN1544 RC532 will be UPS frames.

  8. Line #1519 flight to Lackland Air Force Base -

  9. According to, it's still the Transaero code.

  10. RC067 and RC077 are now being stored in KSKF.

  11. RC067 and RC077 are playing musical airports! Now they are in storage in Victorville.