Is the end in sight for the jumbo jet?

Business Insider posted an interesting article questioning whether the demise of the jumbo jet, i.e., the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380, was coming in the not too distant future. Airways magazine ran a similar article in its April 2015 issue. Such speculation comes in the aftermath of a 2014 that resulted in no new orders for either double-decker plane.

Last year, there were zero orders placed by commercial airlines for new Boeing 747s or Airbus A380s, reflecting a fundamental shift in the industry toward smaller, twin-engine planes. Smaller planes cost less to fly than the stately, four-engine jumbos, which can carry as many as 525 passengers.

The slump in sales of the jets has raised questions over how long manufacturers can sustain production. It has also fueled internal debate in both companies over the future of the planes, sources said.
— Business Insider

As a commercial aviation geek that has not yet had the opportunity to fly on either of these iconic planes, this is a disheartening possibility. The 747, though now only the second largest jumbo behind the A380, is the legendary "Queen of the Skies," and some of the most opulent first class cabins can be found on A380s.

Of course, commercial airlines are businesses that must make fleet decisions on business reality and economics, not emotion and fandom. While Business Insider is not the foremost journalistic entity, it raises some valid questions as to the sustainability of these two aircraft programs. While neither plane will disappear from commercial airline fleets in the immediate future, aviation geeks can't discount a future that may be limited to twin-engine, single-decker aircraft.


Posted on April 21, 2015 and filed under Commercial Aviation.