Despite the promise of double-digit improvements in fuel efficiency, operating costs and emissions, Boeing has been forced to commit to a marginally lower production rate for the 747-8 program from 1.75 aircraft to 1.5 a month due to what the company describes as “lower market demand for large passenger and freighter airplanes”.
“This production adjustment better aligns us with near-term demand while stabilising our production flow and better positions the program to offer the 747-8’s compelling economics and performance when the market recovers,” a company statement said. “Although we are making a small adjustment to our production rate, it doesn’t change our confidence in the 747-8 or our commitment to the program.”
Boeing said it expects long-term average growth in the air cargo market to begin returning in 2014, forecasting global demand for 760 large aircraft such as the 747-8 over the next 20 years.
To date the 747-8 has gained 107 orders for passenger and cargo versions, 56 of which have been delivered.