Boeing will adjust the production rate for the 747-8 program from two airplanes to 1.75 airplanes per month because of lower market demand for large passenger and freighter airplanes. Boeing will continue to monitor market conditions and their effect on production rates moving forward. The company expects long-term average growth in the air cargo market to resume in 2014, and forecasts a demand for 790 large airplanes (such as the 747-8 Intercontinental) to be delivered worldwide over the next 20 years.
The 747-8 family provides airlines with double-digit improvements in fuel burn, operating costs and emissions, while being 30 percent quieter and adding more capacity. To date, there are 110 orders for passenger and cargo versions of the 747-8, 46 of which have been delivered.
The first delivery of an airplane at the new production rate is expected in early 2014. The production rate change is not expected to have a significant financial impact.
At the end of last year, Boeing reportedly had 67 unfilled orders on the books for the stretched version of the 747. Those included 39 freighters and 28 Intercontinental passenger aircraft. The company is building at a rate of 24 per year currently, but all of the delivery slots for 2014 have not been claimed. Boeing said if it is unable to fill those slots, it will have to cut the number of airplanes coming off the assembly line.