Times have changed for the wide-body four engine market.
- Little to no demand for four-engine aircraft
- Boeing no loner manufacturing the iconic 747
- Custom completed 747-8 is scrapped for spare parts
The global wide-body aircraft market has changed.
No longer do customers worldwide; particularly commercial airlines want four-engine jets — and since global aircraft manufacture is driven by commercial airline demand; followed by demand from the cargo logistics companies; thereby making it commercially viable for the OEM’s Airbus and Boeing to design and manufacture such aircraft.
This market demand in-turn dictates aircraft models available for clients that require a custom wide-body jet completion – whether for Head-of-State or VVIP requirements.
Airbus’ answer to the market was the A380 – a huge double deck aircraft for long haul commercial airliners. Zero versions of the A380 have undergone custom VIP Completions.
Boeing meanwhile, designers and manufacturers of the ‘original’ globally iconic 747 ‘jumbo jet’ — which as of writing is no longer manufactured.
The very last variant of the 747 designed and manufactured was the dash eight — or in short the 747-8.
The Boeing 747-8 was modernized from the very beginnings of the 747 jumbo jet for world wide air travel, to feature composite materials, vastly upgraded avionics and systems, and the latest technology at that time in power plants. And that is where it will end for the 747.
Of some of the last 747’s to be completed is famously the next two Head-of-State aircraft the the U.S. presidential flight ‘Air Force One‘ to replace the long standing 747-4’s that have been in service for some 30-years+.
And that brings us to talk about one other 747-8 BBJ that has been completed and sought a new home.
Having successfully made it through a full custom design and completion at the time at the request of the Qatar Amiri Flight, the aircraft reportedly only flew what amounts to delivery mileage in airliner terms, as plans changed quickly through the completion process (which end-to-end can last up to three years for such a large aircraft).
Despite being made available for a new home for sometime, no buyer was found for the 747-8 BBJ that has now since according to reports made its way to Marana Pinal Airport (KMZJ) near Tuscon Arizona last April 2022, and quickly lost its engines and other key parts. That move arguably sealed the airplane’s fate.
The plan was for this 747-8 BBJ to become part of the fleet of the Saudi Arabian Royal Flight. Unfortunately, Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz passed away last year. It appears that after this development, Saudi Arabia was not interested in taking delivery of the aircraft.
With what equates to delivery mileage, the aircraft would have been capable of flying for many tens of thousands of hours in service, over a decade or many more.
The world has moved on
Which underlines the fact that times have changed — the world no longer wants, or at least in any volume, four-engine wide body jets. As sustainability and our global green ambitions of better air quality and a greener world are fueled in newer generations, the OEM’s, and rightly so, are focused on the design and manufacture of more fuel-efficient and sustainable twin-engine powered wide-body jets.
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