Boeing has 17 more 747s on order, and at the current production rate of just six airplanes per year, that's less than three years worth of work.
These are not good days for the company's most iconic airplane.
The jumbo jet with a hump is the reason Boeing's Everett plant even exists. The factory was built in the last half of the 1960s as the jet made its first flight in February 1969.
It is an icon, but by the end of 2017, the two U.S. airlines that still fly the Queen of the Skies in scheduled service will retire them. Those airlines are United and Delta. Other foreign carriers fly the jet internationally, including Air China, Korean Air, Lufthansa, and British Airways. Many of those are the new 747-8 Intercontinental. The passenger version is considered all but finished.
But today, the future looks brighter, as Qatar Airways takes delivery of its first 747-8 Freighter. Qatar has another one on order. Later this week, UPS is expected to take the first of 14.
"I don't believe the 747 program is dead," said Akbar Al Baker, who heads Qatar Airways, which calls itself the third largest cargo airline in the world and is a major passenger airline based out of Doha.
Parked at Boeing's delivery center Monday is Boeing's 13th 777 freighter.
The company also disclosed it has ordered four more 777-300 extended range passenger jets at a news conference today.
The future of the 777 seems on fairly solid ground as the company moves closer to building the first of the new composite wing 777X models, for which Qatar is the launch customer, but what about the 747?
"This airplane has a reach niche in the freight market," said Bruce Dickenson, who heads Boeing's 747 and 767 programs. "And the unique capability it has as a freighter, to load outsized cargo and to really do unique missions as a freighter."
The 747 freighter is the only commercial production model jet that can load long cargo through its nose. Airbus doesn't offer a freighter in the same category.
Will Qatar be back for more beyond its small fleet of two jets?
"It is a possibility as a requirement, as we grow our cargo business," said Baker.
Boeing says it's in discussions with more airlines for more orders.
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