Those of us who are lucky enough to have flown in or even just had a close look at the majesty of the Boeing 747 will have something to tell the next generation about it as they will not be able to share in this unique experience after the end of this year. Yes, the Jumbo Jet will no longer be produced after 2017. The year will also bring about the cessation of all flights aboard this grand aircraft for all U.S. carriers.
USA Today says United Airlines President Scott Kirby sent out a memo to workers in which he said that despite the deep connection they all had with the “iconic aircraft” it was time to retire their Boeing 747 fleet. He said, “It’s a bittersweet milestone – this jumbo with its unmistakable silhouette once represented the state-of-the-art in air travel.”
Kirby said that unfortunately for the 747, it had reached the end of its lifetime as today there are more fuel-efficient, cost-effective, and reliable aircraft that offered a richer flying experience to passengers, especially to those on long-haul flights. He added the last of their 747 would be retired by the end of this year and be given a proper sendoff, and also that all staff who had been working on the aircraft would be transitioned to other fleets.
Boeing itself says it is facing hard times as demand for the hump-backed giant wanes. The company says it is pinning its future hopes on the freighter version of the aircraft but, as Yahoo! Finance reports, even that is under a dark cloud as newer passenger aircraft like their own 787 and Airbus’ A350 have a larger capacity to carry cargo along with passengers which makes much more economic sense to not only the carriers, but the shippers too.
The last flights of the Boeing 747 comes right on the heel of a decision made in July by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which declared jet engine exhaust a danger to public health while at the same time negatively contributing to worldwide climate change. According to the Christian Science Monitor, large commercial aircraft like the 747 spew out around 11 percent of the global transportation emission and the numbers are expected to rise by around 50 percent by 2050 as the demand for air travel also increases alongside it.
Another economic factor that has put a nail in the coffin of the Boeing 747 is its gas guzzling. It is thought that the airplane burns about one gallon of fuel per second, or about five gallons per mile. This has made it necessary to give way to wide-body aircraft, like the 787, which consumes 20 percent less fuel than any other mid-sized aircraft out there.
By Liku Zelleke
Photo Courtesy Boeing