Thursday, December 7, 2006

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)

Save the rust belt -- and screw western Washington

The New York Times' Leslie Wayne looks at the renewed demand for Boein's 747 jet. Turns out that the expansion of trade has something to do with it:

[A] funny thing happened to the 747 on the way to the graveyard: it found a new tailwind, and a strong one at that.

Demand is growing for the new 747-8 Intercontinental, which was introduced a year ago. Boeing now has 73 orders for the plane after its latest lift yesterday from Lufthansa, the big German carrier, which announced it was placing a $5.5 billion order for 20 747-8s, and took options to buy 20 more....

In large part, the 747’s new lease on life is owed to global trade. Until the Lufthansa deal was announced, all 747-8 orders had been for the freighter version of the plane. Even the initial orders for the latest model were for air freighters, an unusual move in an industry that likes to kick off new models with orders from high-profile passenger carriers.

But, technological advances, particularly next-generation fuel-efficient engines, improved the economics of operating a four-engine passenger plane like the 747.

“The new 747 is an inexpensive way for Boeing to capture some passenger orders, a lot of cargo orders and make a fair amount of money because of the Airbus 380 hiccup,” said Jon B. Kutler, chief executive of Admiralty Partners, a private investment firm in Santa Monica, Calif., that specializes in aerospace....

When Airbus announced the A380, Boeing looked flat-footed. For years, it appeared to dither about the future of the 747. It ordered up a number of 747-X studies of an advanced version of the plane, but came to no conclusion.

But the dithering paid off. As time marched on, so did technology. And when Boeing shifted its emphasis into developing its new 787 Dreamliner, a wide-body midsize passenger plane, many of the technologies it pioneered for that plane could be adapted to the 747, including the fuel-efficient engines developed for the 787 and a new wing design that could stretch its flying range....

As manufacturing increasingly moves to Asia and worldwide commerce increases, the cargo market is growing at a faster rate than the passenger market — about 6 percent a year, compared with passenger growth of about 4 percent, according to Air Cargo Management. (That said, the passenger market is about three times the size of the freighter market, with revenue of $185 billion last year.)

At the moment, there are 481 747 freighters in use. This compares with 353 in 2000. While there are many smaller cargo planes — and the combined total of all them exceeds the number of 747 freighters in the air — the 747 is the only big cargo plane available and is the only plane that can be used for some large loads.

posted by Dan on 12.07.06 at 08:51 AM


Speaking as I do for the rustbelt, yeah, that's fine.

Home foreclosures here setting a record four years running, so much for the Bush boom.

Actually, with all of the brains in this country, we should be able to find a way to make this transition without screwing anybody - but that ain't happening.

"Greed is good" Gordon Gecko

posted by: save_the_rustbelt on 12.07.06 at 08:51 AM [permalink]

STR- despite what the union stewards might tell you, nobody is obligated to not do a better job at something than anyone else.

posted by: rosignol on 12.07.06 at 08:51 AM [permalink]

Post a Comment:


Email Address:



Remember your info?