An anemic 2014 sales record is taking its toll on the pace of Boeing 747 production at Everett.
The company disclosed this week it plans to cut back that production speed by two 747s a year beginning next September. The aerospace company currently builds 1.5 747s monthly on its Everett Paine Field production line. It will reduce that assembly pace to 1.3 planes, a month. That change will reduce 747 deliveries from 18 to 16 planes yearly.
Boeing attracted only two orders for the latest version of the 747 this year, one from AirBridgeCargo Airlines and the other from Cargolux Airlines. Both of those orders were for the freighter version of the 747.
Those two orders were offset by two cancellations from undisclosed Boeing customers.
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The updated version of the venerable widebody thus far has attracted just 119 orders, 51 for the 747-8i passenger plane and 68 for the 747-8 freighter. Thirty-nine of those planes have yet to be built.
The 747-8 features new wings, updated engines and new cockpit systems as well as an extended fuselage. It competes in some categories with the larger Airbus A-380 and with the smaller upcoming Boeing 777X.
Boeing said a downturn in the cargo market was partially responsible for the 747-8’s slow sales record. The Airbus A-380 has also struggled to land new orders with a majority of airlines preferring the flexibility and economy of twin-engine long-range jets to the capacity of the A-380. Both the 747 and the A-380 have four engines.
Boeing said it remains committed to the 747 which in various models has sold 1,537 planes since its 1970 debut.