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Boeing Confident In 747X

Sat Feb 10, 2001 8:11 am

INTERVIEW-Boeing says superjumbo plans firm

By Chris Stetkiewicz

SEATTLE, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Despite losing the first several rounds in the fight to sell a new generation of superjumbo jets, Boeing Co. officials still say their 747X will fly by 2005, reeling in customers over time.

Rival Airbus Industrie 1/8ARBU.UL 3/8's 555-seat double-decker A380 has grabbed headlines, and 60 launch orders, while Boeing has tinkered with its more modest plan to add about 100 seats and more range to its 416-seat 747-400.

After a recent customer symposium helped Boeing refine its design, the 747X plans are nearly complete and officials at the Seattle-based aerospace giant are more convinced than ever that they can find enough customers to build it.

"The airplane is really very firm," 747X program manager Walter Gillette said in an interview on Thursday. "The engine sizing is firm, from both engine companies, thrust requirements are firm, the wing is firm. We are doing the last wind tunnel tests now."

Gillette and 747 program general manager Walter Orlowski did not say how many orders it would take to launch the plane, adding that the board of directors had not set a minimum. But they still expect to launch it this year as part of a remarkably specific schedule.

"We have a program plan that says first flight will be on Dec. 17, 2004. That's the 101st anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight. It's a Friday," said Gillette at Boeing's Everett, Wash., wide-body jet assembly plant.

Government certification comes on Aug. 1, 2005, with the first delivery in September 2005, according to the plan.

"We are following that plan, following every step of it and we will pick up our launch customers along the way," Gillette said.


Boeing officials were "disappointed" to see seven customers sign up for 60 A380s before the sale of even one 747X. But many of those buyers were drawn to the colossal size of the Airbus jet, while most jumbo operators will need jets seating 400 to 500 passengers, Gillette said.

"Airbus's airplane is really sized for getting bigger. The 747X has a 7,000-square feet area wing. The A380 has a 9,000 square-foot area wing. So the A380 really wants to start at its current size and go up. (Airbus) are betting the market is going to be large for a very large airplane," Gillette said.

Other than the size, the A380 offers no major technological advance over the 747X, Orlowski said, countering remarks on Thursday by FedEx Corp. Chief Executive Frederick Smith, who said the A380 was "a quantum leap" more efficient.

"On the wing technology, engine technology, systems technology, flight qualities -- there is no technological improvement that we couldn't make or haven't made," Orlowski said.

"It (A380) is a leapfrog in size, but I think it ends right there. The fuel burn per seat is just about the same. I don't know of any piece of technology that Airbus has on the A380 that is a leapfrog," Orlowski added.


The 747X will sport an all-new wing and landing gear plus one of two new engine models -- the Rolls-Royce Plc. Trent 600 series or the GP 7100 offered by the engine alliance of General Electric Co. and Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp. .

Still, without a launch customer, Boeing's words ring hollow and its hopes of selling hundreds of 747Xs at $200 million apiece seem optimistic, industry experts have said.

Why not simply skip the program and deliver an all-new superjumbo 10 or 20 years from now, when the demand is expected to be stronger, analysts have asked.

"As long as the basic concept of the airplane is sound, it's usually better to continue to enhance it, grow its capability, add new technologies that provide value, than it is to take a risk on an all-new one," Gillette said.

So barring an improbable breakthrough in propulsion technology, the $4 billion 747X project looks far safer than the $10.7 billion A380, Boeing argues.

17:28 02-09-01

Copyright 2001 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sat Feb 10, 2001 8:19 am

I'm glad to hear it. This has certainly made my day a bit happier! Thanks for posting it.
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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sat Feb 10, 2001 8:28 am

Just to show how confident I am in the 747x, I am putting Friday, Dec. 17, 2004 down on my calendar, taking the day off from work, to be up at Everett. If that plane lifts off, I'll drink a toast to the future of the 747, if not, I'll just drink. Anyone want to join me, we'll get sloshed.


RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sat Feb 10, 2001 8:40 am


I will join you, but I'll bring champagne. We won't need whiskey.
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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sat Feb 10, 2001 8:43 am

Boeing has every reason to be confident in the 747X as it is a superior aircraft ( also better looking ) than the A380.

But, time is running out for them to find a customer. I'm hoping that there would be a customer for the 747X Stretch soon.

Go Boeing!!!!!!!!!!!! Big thumbs up  Love

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The Customers

Sat Feb 10, 2001 9:21 am

According to a post on this page a bit ago, the airlines who have expressed extreme interest in the 747X are:
United, JAL, ANA, Cathay Pacific, Thai, British Airways, and yes, Lufthansa.
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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sat Feb 10, 2001 9:44 am

JAL the 747X is Superior to the A380???
it's not what FedEX said,but what the hell if it make you happy to think so,dream well...
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RE: AirbusDriver

Sat Feb 10, 2001 10:05 am

Just when you get really worried that tradition will be broken, and a thread will go down with no asinine, juvenile posts, AirbusDriver always comes through for us! Thanks for the IQ drain, AirbusDriver, the forum just wouldn't be itself without you.
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Sat Feb 10, 2001 10:11 am

oooh, is that an A380 in your pocket, or you just happy to see me?

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RE: AirbusDriver

Sat Feb 10, 2001 10:32 am

Are we really surprised to be hearing this from Boeing? Of course they will put their product forth in the most positive light no matter what the cirumstances. They won't easially admit a weakness. Airbus does the same -and so does every other large business in operation.

We're looking at spin here, people. Nothing against the 747X, but thats all this is about.

RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sat Feb 10, 2001 10:48 am

WHOOPEEEEE!!!!! It's just too bad nobody else feels that way.At least not yet anyway.As much as I hate to admit it, the A380 is everything the B747 was when it came out, bigger, more range, more conveniences, and just plain better.
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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sat Feb 10, 2001 11:00 am

I am sure the B 747X Stretch, I predict that it is going to be a success. Why? Coz many airlines like JAL, Cathay Pacific, United Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa etc are loyal 747 Customers. And I am sure they wouldn't switch to Airbus easily. Besides, these airlines above have already expressed their extreme interest in the B 747X Stretch. So why not give it some time?

In a few years time, I predict that there will be quite a number of airlines getting the B 747-400LR to replace its B 747 Classics, or their oldest B 747-400s.

However, I don't see a reason why an airline needs the B 747X as it is only about 50 seats more than the B 747-400. So........

Great to hear that!  Smile
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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sat Feb 10, 2001 11:26 am

United Airline;
Q - What have Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines and Qantas all got in common?
A - They were all loyal B747 customers until they ordered the A380!

So what makes you sure they wouldn't switch to Airbus easily?

As to airlines replacing B747 Classics with B747-400LRs, well no. Airlines are replacing B747 Classics with B777s, look at Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Singapore Airlines etc - Classics have been relegated to shorter routes so the 772/773/744 make more sense as a replacement.

This thread took on a juvenile twist when JAL made the claim the 747X was superior to the A380, based on no facts whatsoever. Neither aircraft has flown, the 747X design isn't even finallised yet and is still undergoing windtunnel testing! So where does the assertion that one aircraft is better than the other come from - the answer to that question is years away when they are in service, shoulder to shoulder...

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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sat Feb 10, 2001 11:32 pm

Well, this looks like a potential Avs B war, but why not?


Q - What have Air France, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines and Qantas all got in common?
Consider Virgin Atlantic, Emirates and Singapore airlines - three airlines known for their affection for gimmicks, comfort, luxury. These airlines aren't people carriers like most others: they operate in a niche market. For them, the A380 is brilliant. But for an airline wishing to carry as many people as possible from A to B, it might not be the same way. Here, commonality with an existing fleet might be an important factor.

To me, it makes sense that an aircraft with potential to grow (i.e. the A380) might be a bit heavier, have a bigger wing and be overall slightly redundant and inefficient in many of its design features. The 747, on the other hand, is reaching the end of its potential growth - therefore it might take the design to its limits - hence being more efficient than current versions.

In summary:
I believe the B747 has a good future, and will dominate high-capacity routes for quite a while to come, while the A380 will conquer some niche markets, and those (few) routes where demand cannot be met by 747 variants. But neither the A380 nor the B747 Stretches will sell more than 250 planes in the near future.

Just my two pence' worth.
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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sun Feb 11, 2001 1:41 am

In response to your question, "Why wouldn't a few airlines go A380 when they've been 747 loyal, especially when it fits the airlines' schedules more efficiantly?"

The answer can be summed up in one word: POLITICS.

Evidenced in the same way that Air France buys 777's and A340's, same for Singapore, and so on.
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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sun Feb 11, 2001 2:10 am

Some Boeing and AI fans are so blinded by their 'Love' for their respective favourite aircraft builders that they forget what actually goes into deciding an aircraft purchase. First of all, brand loyalty has nothing to do with it (unless it comes with a special pricing deal in which case it is NOT brand loyalty). So comments like: carrier XYZ is a loyal 747 customer is a lot of nonsense!
The assertion that the 747X or any other 747 derivative that has yet to fly, is superior to the A380 (which has yet to fly itself) can only be made by someone who has not the slightest idea what he is talking about. Airbus is designing an aircraft in the A380 that will encompass the latest in everthing from electronic FBW systems to materials technology, so it is bound to be a vastly more capable aircraft than any other aircraft in it's class just because of that. But Airbus has yet to prove it's superiority. I would say they have a winner on their hands but time will tell. Boeing have enormous capabilities in aircraft design but they have chosen to re-hash an 1960's design. However, Boeing may have a big winner in the 747X also. I hope so because competition between Boeing and Airbus is good for both of them and the flying public.
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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sun Feb 11, 2001 3:25 am

You have to remember, European governments are financing a lot of the A380 project, and the plane is being built in France. Air France bought the jet for political reasons. I don't blame them though. They want to help the European economy.

Boeing's ace in the hole is the 747X (not the stretch). This aircraft seats about 20 more pax than the current 774, but has the range of the 777-200LR, 8800-8900nm. This plane will sell purely for its range. Two airlines that I am almost completely sure will buy this plane are SIA and Quantas. Both airlines would be able to fly nonstop to New York with this plane (the A380 couldn't make either flight nonstop).
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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sun Feb 11, 2001 6:15 am

To all: I guess the first thing that everyone should keep in mind is that the A380 will own the upper end of the VLA market for a very long time. IMO, if you read the article closely, Boeing is stating exactly that. The A380 is meant to get bigger, and Airbus is betting the ranch on that part of the market. My expectations are that the need for a/c that size is probably not as great as Airbus predicts, but enough to ensure program success.
OTOH, it looks like Boeing has decided to concede that part of the market to them and concentrate on the segment between A380 and 777/A340, exactly where the 747X falls. Airbus has talked about an A380-50, a shrink of the A380-100, but it appears as though they have cooled on that approach as the shrink may negate the initial advantages the A380 has. I believe they said something to that effect last year in a presentation they did for analysts for Credit-Suisse/First Boston. They may also not have the capacity to add that segment anyways...who knows.
Nontheless, the 747x may have a future. Boeing is certainly not about to plunk down the cash they are investing in the vain hope somebody will eventually buy the plane. They would not have publicly made their arrangements with the Japanese known w/o an element of certainty about the a/c's future. No CEO and Board of Directors would engage in this w/o a firm foundation for doing so. IMO, they have their launch commitments; for whatever reasons, they are not saying anything firm.
If things go well, we airliner enthusiasts just may look forward to a day when we can see, photograph, fly in and build models of A380's and 747NG.

Best regards,

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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sun Feb 11, 2001 8:06 am

It is interesting to see how the ideas in this forum evolve.
Roughly a year ago, most Boeing fans (where I mean the
''believers'' not the ones who are actually thinking) were
saying the A380 is a joke and the B747X ``kicks asses``.
Now we arrived to the ''Airbus gives away'' and ``there
is future for the B747X`` stage. I hope soon we move
on to the ``give a little more time to the B747X`` ( a la B764ERX).
Succes or not, you got to love the A380 for this!



Sun Feb 11, 2001 11:30 am

How is the 764LR connected to this? Already Kenya has orders, and a number of others seem interested.
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RE: AirbusDriver

Sun Feb 11, 2001 12:37 pm

I will be more than happy to think that the 747X  Big thumbs up is a better than the A380 cause it is the truth.

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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sun Feb 11, 2001 12:54 pm

Too bad neither aircraft exists yet to prove or disprove your highly unscientific hypothesis.
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RE: AirbusDriver

Sun Feb 11, 2001 1:13 pm

I just would like to say that the A380 is also a good aircraft but the 747X is a superior aircraft. Whichever ever aircraft emerges the victor, only time will tell.
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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Sun Feb 11, 2001 5:43 pm

JAL: I'm not trying to have ago at you specifically however, comments like the 747X is better than the A380, that's the fact, aren't really constructive and helpful to the conversation.

I agree with Ikarus
Anyone can fly, only the best Soar.
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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Mon Feb 12, 2001 4:50 am

The A380 will be a success because the crowded megahubs cryout for it and it will be the most-economic airplane in the world when operating full (currently its the 747-400 according to Boeing). Also it will be the most comfortable airplane you can travel in.
The B747X (not the stretch) will be a success because a lot of airlines need to replace their 747-400s around 2010 and later. The A380 will be too big for many, the A340/B777 to small. At least 50% of the current (around 600 strong) 747-400-fleet will eventually be replaced by a 747X. So we are talking about ca. 300 planes here!
The B747X-Stretch freighter will also be a success, more than the A380 Freighter. I think because most operators will not need the two decks of the Airbus but need something that can carry heavy things or long (the A380 has no nose door). Not many Cargo airlines carry a lot of lightweight parcels like Fedex.
I have doubts about the 747X-Stretch passenger-plane though because its the direct competitor of the A380. Unless the Airbus will not meet the expectations (thats very unlikely) I expect the A380 to be the better aircraft with much much room for further developments.
So in the end I think that Boeings Jumbo Jet has a promising future, even if not quite as bright as the past.
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RE: Boeing Confident In 747X

Mon Feb 12, 2001 5:24 am

wooohoo go 747x.

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