Kim Smith, Boeing’s vice president and general manager of the 747 and 767 programs, said while various sections of the previous 747 – for example the wings or fuselage structure – were complete, the production line “just slowly started to wind down”.
Smith said all 747 program workers were transferred to other jobs or voluntarily retired.
The last 747 was rolled out on 7 December, bringing the program’s total to 1,574. The aircraft has since completed inspections and flight tests, flying to Portland over the holidays to get a paint job. The plane will fly to Atlas’ headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Wednesday morning.
While Boeing also builds the 767 and 777 in Everett, the company has not yet decided which program will permanently take over the 747 production bay, which is currently being used for 787 inventory and 777X work. Smith said.
Boeing will remain involved with the 747 through the aftermarket business and the Air Force One replacement program, which Boeing won in 2018.
The 747’s apparent successor, the 777X, won’t be ready for delivery until 2025, but Boeing chief executive David Calhoun has his sights set on that future: “The 777, the next aircraft to dominate this space, will displace all of its competition in the same way.” Did it – and we haven’t even offered the best version.”