Boeing 747 : The End of an Era?

“I am expecting a gold watch from Boeing at the end of my presidency for being a top salesman.”

President Obama (July 21 2016)

“It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect.”

BA spokesman (July 17 2020)

July 22 2020 — On Friday (July 17 2020), British Airways announced that it would be retiring its iconic fleet of Boeing 747’s with immediate effect. Today, after almost 50 years, Qantas’ last 747 went on a farewell tour to retirement. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

RELATED POST: On This Day — 1,000 Boeing 747 Jumbo Plane Produced (September 10 1993) [2019]

RELATED POST: Lockerbie — Three Decades of Lies: J’Accuse…! [Chapter X : What Really Happened to Pan Am Flight 103?]

QUICK NOTES — To make it easier for the readers to retrieve various chapters of our new book, I have created a special page  “Lockerbie” where all the links to the chapters will be listed with a brief description. You can access that page directly as it appears at the far right of the top bar of this blog.

A procedural hearing in the Megrahi appeal was due to take place on 17 April 2020, but was postponed when court business was suspended because of the Covid-19 emergency. A rescheduled procedural hearing has now been fixed to take place before five judges of the High Court of Justiciary on Friday, 21 August 2020 at 10 am. The hearing will be held using Webex. [The Lockerbie Case — Procedural hearing in Megrahi appeal rescheduled]

END of NOTES

Excluding cargo airlines, BA operated the most 747s of any airline with 31 of the jumbo jets in service. They were originally set to be phased out in 2024.

Delta and Air France, have already retired their 747s ahead of the downturn.

Just over 400 747s were in service in June 2020 and BA’s move to retire its aircraft leaves Lufthansa as the passenger carrier with the most in service (28).

The sheer size of the 747 means it has excelled in transporting cargo and its largest operator is actually Atlas Air (38).

Cargolux and UPS Airlines, two more aerial freight specialists, come second and third on the 747-operator list with 30 and 29 in service, respectively.

The 747 is still in demand among passenger airlines in Asia, however, where Cathay Pacific and Korean Air both have 20 in service.

China Airlines is also among the largest passenger airlines still operating the 747 (16).

The End of an Era?

According to well informed sources, Boeing and suppliers set the final number of parts it would need for the 747 jumbo jet program at least a year ago, signaling the end for the 747.

Boeing and a “Long Decade” in US-China Relations from 1989–2001

Before global supply chains and indigenous innovation became leading issues, bilateral economic relations in the 1990s were often dominated by contentious debates in Washington over Beijing’s “most favored nation” (MFN) status, an issue that thrust Boeing into the limelight as a major force in US-China relations.

MFN status meant that the United States would give China trade advantages equal to the best that it gave any of its other trading partners—the vast majority of which already had MFN status. In practice, this approval meant that a country avoided the punitive Smoot-Hawley tariffs imposed during the Great Depression.

(…)

Due to Tiananmen, Washington embargoed $700 million in arms sales to China, ended joint military planning and weapons development, and suspended trade and development assistance. These new frictions drew Boeing deeper into the domestic politics of US foreign policy as the company had to work delicately with the administration to exempt a scheduled $200 million delivery of four B757s to China from military sanctions.

Bush Beijing Feb 1989

George H.W. Bush in Beijing, February 1989

The need for the US president to renew China’s MFN status each year provided another means for Congress to punish China. Proponents argued that the United States should use denial of MFN status as “leverage” against Beijing because China wanted access to US markets, foreign investment, and “prestige meetings” with American officials.

The George H.W. Bush administration, however, renewed China’s MFN status every year and vetoed bills that attempted to revoke MFN or link it to human rights. Even though Democratic leaders in Congress and an “eclectic alliance of anti-Communists, human rights advocates, and protectionists” believed Bush’s approach was wrong, they could never override his veto.

Boeing and POTUS — Obama: “I am Boeing’s second biggest salesman.”

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The 737 MAX tragedies

Federal prosecutors investigating Boeing are examining whether the U.S. plane maker knowingly misled the Federal Aviation Administration while it was seeking approval for its 737 MAX jet.

The prosecutors have questioned several Boeing employees in recent months, focusing on whether Mark Forkner, a top pilot at the company, intentionally lied to the regulator about the nature of new flight control software on the jet.

As always, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not comment.

Forkner had said he might have unintentionally misled regulators, in a series of internal messages from 2016 that became public in October.

The messages appeared to have been the first publicly known observations that the MCAS anti-stall system behaved erratically during testing before the aircraft entered service.

The comments by Forkner, who has since left Boeing, were among those pinpointed by U.S. lawmakers in hearings in Washington as evidence that Boeing knew about problems with flight control software before two crashes of its 737 MAX aircraft in October 2018 and March 2019 killed 346 people. [REUTERS]

Will President Obama return his gold watch to Boeing?

REFERENCES

British Airways retires entire 747 fleet after travel downturn — BBC News

For Company and For Country: Boeing and US-China Relations by Neil Thomas

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Boeing 747 : The End of an Era?

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