Final Wings Mark Start Of Boeing's 747-8 Production Wind Down

Atlas Air 747-8
Credit: Atlas Air

Boeing has staged the left wing for the last 747-8F freighter onto the production line at Everett, Washington, marking the build-up for the aircraft’s final assembly process and close out of the historic 747 line later in 2022.

The wings for the final 747-8 freighter, line number LN 1574, were loaded on the line almost 54 years after the final body join of the first aircraft in the summer of 1968 and comes 54 years and 8 months after the initial wing skin/stringer riveting machine began work on the first units at Everett in September 1967. 

All four of the final aircraft are due for delivery to cargo carrier Atlas Air by the end of 2022, Boeing says. The first of the group, which were ordered by Atlas in January 2021, is LN 1571, which made its first flight on April 22 and is expected to deliver soon having made its fourth shake-down flight on May 17. 

The second aircraft, LN1572, is undergoing final body join on the production line in Everett’s Building 40-22. The wing set for LN1573 is meanwhile being prepared for mating with the center fuselage section prior to transfer to the final body join position. Systems installation for the forward and aft fuselage sections of the second-to-last 747-8 is meanwhile underway in the adjacent build-up area on the north-west side of 40-22. 

Boeing confirmed in 2020 it would terminate production of the 747 in 2022. Previously, the company had hoped to extend deliveries into 2023 but was forced to bring the production date cut off forward after the backlog shrank following order losses after financial problems at the Volga-Dnepr Group in Russia. 

With the end of 747 production Boeing is preparing to bolster spares provisioning for the in-service fleet through Boeing Global Services, as well as clearing out space in 40-22 and the adjacent wing build-up area in 40-21. Following the consolidation of the 767/KC-46A and 747 line functions in 2016, and the transition of the 787 to Charleston, South Carolina, in 2021, the clearance of the 747 line will open up even more spare capacity in Everett. Boeing says no decisions have yet been taken on what to do with the space.

To-date Boeing has produced 1,569 747s of which the bulk—694—were 747-400s. The last variant of this model, a -400F, was delivered in December 2009. 

Guy Norris

Guy is a Senior Editor for Aviation Week, covering technology and propulsion. He is based in Colorado Springs.


An epic run
Very sad to see 747 production ending. I think Boeing could have persuade the USAF to take a few to replace E-4B and some special missions converted C-135, freight carriers to take advantage of this unique freighter thanks to its nose door, VIP to enjoy the only four engine but also iconic business liners. The 747 will stay for ever the 'Queen of the Sky', not the A380.