Airliner sales booming, but Boeing's 747 could use a boost

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 News Aviation Specialist

Bio | Email | Follow: @GlennFarley

KING5.com

Posted on May 17, 2013 at 10:08 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 19 at 12:25 PM

Boeing's newest plane is not the 787. Surprised? It's really the 747-8, but Boeing is struggling to sell its newer, bigger jumbo jet. The lack of new orders has the company slowing down production to less than two a month.

The 747 freighter is in a class by itself and has no competition, but the cargo market continues to struggle and has slowed sales. But what about the passenger version, the 747 -8 Intercontinental? A three class configuration will seat up to 467 passengers, about 30-percent less than an Airbus 380 with two decks. But Boeing says the 747-8 can fly into more airports and is more flexible than its competition.

Already Boeing says the 747-8 Intercontinental is 14 percent more fuel efficient than the 747-400 it replaces. And this week it will undergo months of new flight testing for its new General Electric engines that will boost fuel efficiency another 1.8%, which by itself would save an airline a million dollars a year in fuel costs.

Lufthansa German Airlines is the largest purchaser of the 747-8 Intercontinental with an order of 19 and already has a number in service.  The airline is also a large operator of A380s, yet sees a bright future for the 747 and says it will be making  decision to buy more 747s or A380s this fall.

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