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Why The Huge Timespan Between The 744 And 748?  
User currently offlinec5load From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 917 posts, RR: 0
Posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 4651 times:

Why has the 747-8 taken so long to come out? It's been about ~24 yrs since the -400 took flight. Before that, it was only 5 yrs for the -300, and 10 yrs for the -200. Other airframes have incremented rather quickly, i.e. 737-100-900. Why did it take Boeing 20 yrs to figure out a bigger airframe? And if this has been discussed before, please point me to it.


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20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31420 posts, RR: 85
Reply 1, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 4653 times:
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Boeing has been offering updates to the 747 family since the mid-1990s, but not until the 747-8 did they secure enough orders (passenger and freighter) to justify actually putting it into production.

User currently offlineN328KF From United States of America, joined May 2004, 6491 posts, RR: 3
Reply 2, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 4559 times:

Furthermore, the changes between the -100/SP, -200 and -300 were mostly incremental. The -400 and -8 were both major changes.


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User currently offlineETStar From Canada, joined Jan 2004, 2103 posts, RR: 7
Reply 3, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 4436 times:

Does it have to do with Boeing needing to update its largest aircraft in light of competition that came with the A380? Sure, different type of aircraft, but a way to retain those already operating the 744?

User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 4, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 4376 times:

Quoting c5load (Thread starter):
Why has the 747-8 taken so long to come out? It's been about ~24 yrs since the -400 took flight

Well, the -400ER came out in 2000, so it's not like they were stagnant since 1988. Since the original -400, they've come out with the -400F, the -400C, the -400ER, the -400ERF, and the -400BCF.

Quoting c5load (Thread starter):
Other airframes have incremented rather quickly, i.e. 737-100-900.

There are basically three waves of 737...the 737-100/200 ("Jurassics"), -300/400/500 ("Classics"), and the -600/700/800/900 ("NGs"). Those span considerably more time than the 747 evolution up through the -400ER.

Quoting c5load (Thread starter):
Why did it take Boeing 20 yrs to figure out a bigger airframe? And if this has been discussed before, please point me to it.

It's not a matter of figuring it out, it's a matter of getting the market and equipment to converge. Joe Sutter (Chief Engineer of the original 747) was there for the maiden flight of the -8F and said that they were basically hung up on the engine...if not for the 787 spurring development of the GeNX, the 747-8 wouldn't have had an engine.

Quoting ETStar (Reply 3):
Does it have to do with Boeing needing to update its largest aircraft in light of competition that came with the A380? Sure, different type of aircraft, but a way to retain those already operating the 744?

I'm sure that has something to do with it coming to market now, but the idea of the -8 far predates the A380.

Tom.


User currently offlinespacecadet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3671 posts, RR: 12
Reply 5, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 4317 times:

The -8 is about halfway to a whole new airplane. The -200 and -300 were much more minor updates. The -400 was a major update, but still not quite the large jump that the -8 is over the -400. You would expect the -8 to take longer than the other increments, given how many changes to the basic design there are.

But I guess the best answer is that there was no need for a major update to the -400 before now. Boeing did have various designs ready to put into production, like the 747-600 and 747-700X. Those were in the 1990's. There wasn't a market for it. The thinking was everybody was just moving to higher frequency and smaller planes with fewer engines, like the 777 and Sonic Cruiser (which was to be Boeing's big new plane at one point). If anyone wanted a really large plane, they could continue to order the 747-400, but Boeing thought that market was just petering out. And as others have said, it's not like there have been no updates to the 747-400 over the years.

I'm sure the A380 had something to do with finally pushing Boeing to offer the 747-8I, though I also think that it wouldn't have happened without the cargo version. Cargo companies do still have a need for a large airplane, and the 747-400 is sort of a "standard" for cargo - it's sized just right for the containers, and it's front-loading. That's where the market was first for an update to the 747-400, so that's what the 747-8 was really developed for. The "International" version was based off that, and was seen as a cheap way to compete with the A380, and attempt to retake the definition of what a "VLA" actually is.



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User currently offlineTeamAmerica From United States of America, joined Sep 2006, 1761 posts, RR: 23
Reply 6, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 3909 times:

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 5):
it's sized just right for the containers

The containers were sized for the aircraft, not the reverse.  



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User currently offlineDeterminist From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2010, 21 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 3702 times:

Quoting spacecadet (Reply 5):
But I guess the best answer is that there was no need for a major update to the -400 before now.

Absolutely right, and also no competition until now.


User currently offlineDaysleeper From UK - England, joined Dec 2009, 873 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 3661 times:

A little of topic.

But doing some searching on Airfleets, and unless I missed some it looks like the last passanger version of the 744 was built in 2005 and delivered to China Airlines.

Is that right? Have they really not built a passanger version in 5 years? If so, then it kinda makes for the argument that the update was down new competition....


User currently offlineFlighty From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 8769 posts, RR: 3
Reply 9, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 3604 times:

Quoting Determinist (Reply 7):
Absolutely right, and also no competition until now.

That was the real reason. McD had been neutralized. Lockheed was out. So it depended on Airbus. Eventually the 744 pax was outclassed by both A&B. As a freighter, the 744 remained on top.

So, the 748 gave them another shot at the passenger market. But other than that... they could have let the 744 ride even longer. Eventually Boeing pride made them update it.


User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 1001 posts, RR: 51
Reply 10, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 3578 times:

Quoting spacecade t (Reply 5):
The -400 was a major update, but still not quite the large jump that the -8 is over the -400. You would expect the -8 to take longer than the other increments, given how many changes to the basic design there are.

No, flip that. The 744 was a more significant overhaul than the 748 by a wide margin. The systems and structural architecture that Boeing reworked in the 80s is still being retained by the 748 with few exceptions. The changes in the 748 are more outwardly obvious, but it is decidedly a sibling of the 744.


User currently offlineLHCVG From United States of America, joined May 2009, 1642 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 3550 times:

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 10):

No, flip that. The 744 was a more significant overhaul than the 748 by a wide margin. The systems and structural architecture that Boeing reworked in the 80s is still being retained by the 748 with few exceptions. The changes in the 748 are more outwardly obvious, but it is decidedly a sibling of the 744.

Good point. Didn't the -400 even get an entirely new wing or something in that direction?


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 26005 posts, RR: 22
Reply 12, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 3372 times:

Quoting Daysleeper (Reply 8):
it looks like the last passanger version of the 744 was built in 2005 and delivered to China Airlines.

Is that right?

That agrees with Boeing orders/deliveries data on their website. Last passenger 744 delivered to CI April 26, 2005, a little over 16 years after the first delivery to NW January 26,1989..


User currently onlineha763 From United States of America, joined Jan 2003, 3671 posts, RR: 5
Reply 13, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 3259 times:
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Quoting TeamAmerica (Reply 6):
The containers were sized for the aircraft, not the reverse.

Not exactly. The fuselage width of the 747 was designed to fit 2 8'x8' shipping containers up to 40' long side-by-side.

Quoting LHCVG (Reply 11):
Didn't the -400 even get an entirely new wing or something in that direction?

It was extended and added the winglets, but otherwise was still the same wing as the classics.


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 26005 posts, RR: 22
Reply 14, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 3050 times:

Quoting ha763 (Reply 13):
Quoting LHCVG (Reply 11):
Didn't the -400 even get an entirely new wing or something in that direction?

It was extended and added the winglets, but otherwise was still the same wing as the classics.

Except the 19 744Ds built for JL and NH for use on domestic routes. They lack the extended wingtips and winglets, although they were designed so both could be added in the event the aircraft were to be moved into longhaul service.


User currently offlineWarpSpeed From United States of America, joined Feb 2010, 595 posts, RR: 3
Reply 15, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 2991 times:

Quoting Stitch (Reply 1):
but not until the 747-8 did they secure enough orders (passenger and freighter) to justify actually putting it into production.

And, a hat tip to the 787, whose GNex engines were adapted to the 747-8 and made the value proposition work for the end user so Boeing could secure those orders...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Joe Sutter himself credits the new engines for the -8 making business sense...



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User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31420 posts, RR: 85
Reply 16, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 2896 times:
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Quoting WarpSpeed (Reply 15):
And, a hat tip to the 787, whose GNex engines were adapted to the 747-8 and made the value proposition work for the end user so Boeing could secure those orders...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Joe Sutter himself credits the new engines for the -8 making business sense...

Newer generation engines were being offered for the various 747 concepts (Rolls-Royce with the Trent 600 and Engine Alliance with a version of the GP7000), but I imagine the GEnx's improvements helped narrow the operating cost gap to the point that the 747-8 could compete economically with the A380-800 on at least some missions.


User currently offlineAirFrnt From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 2829 posts, RR: 42
Reply 17, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 2818 times:

The pace slowed down, because globalization basically has destroyed the market for these plans in favor of frequency to many more diverse city pairs.

User currently offlineAnshuk From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2009, 486 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 2778 times:

Boeing was very vocal about the fact that while Airbus was counting on the industry tilting more towards the hub and spoke system, they themselves were counting on the industry going in the direction of a point to point system.

I suppose the idea of launching another version of a VLA didn't fit that strategy very well. And given the massive sales of the 787 and for that matter even the A350, I guess Boeing was somewhat right about putting their money on the point to point market.

Just my two cents..  


User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 19, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 2622 times:

Quoting WarpSpeed (Reply 15):
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Joe Sutter himself credits the new engines for the -8 making business sense...

You're correct:

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 4):
Joe Sutter (Chief Engineer of the original 747) was there for the maiden flight of the -8F and said that they were basically hung up on the engine...if not for the 787 spurring development of the GeNX, the 747-8 wouldn't have had an engine.

Tom.


User currently offlineWarpSpeed From United States of America, joined Feb 2010, 595 posts, RR: 3
Reply 20, posted (4 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 2602 times:

Quoting WarpSpeed (Reply 15):
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Joe Sutter himself credits the new engines for the -8 making business sense...

You're correct:

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 4):
Joe Sutter (Chief Engineer of the original 747) was there for the maiden flight of the -8F and said that they were basically hung up on the engine...if not for the 787 spurring development of the GeNX, the 747-8 wouldn't have had an engine.



And, here I go thinking I'm posting something insightful in response to Stitch. I should have known better. I gotta start reading these threads more closely! Sorry for the repeat, Tom,....newbie mistake....

[Edited 2010-03-03 21:25:58]


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