At Paine Field in Everett, Washington this afternoon, Boeing revealed the newest 747 off the production line, and that specific example is the first of fourteen for Louisville-based UPS Airlines, the cargo airline operated by United Parcel Service.
On October 27th of last year, UPS placed a firm order for 14 Boeing 747-8F aircraft with another 14 options in an order that may have saved the world’s most iconic aircraft.
Back in the Fall of last year, there was plenty of speculation surrounding the Boeing 747 production line. With all of the orders filled and just 114 aircraft of the type produced (71 of which are for the cargo variant), it was thought by many, and even admitted by Boeing themselves, that the 747 production line was nearing the end of it’s days. In fact, just a month before the order was placed, Boeing announced they were slowing the 747 line to just 6 planes a year, a massive reduction which led to many doubts regarding the aircraft’s future.
Luckily for Boeing, UPS swooped in and saved both the 747 production line and Boeing for at least another two years or so, if that. Perhaps most notably, the example revealed today may have been the last “first reveal” of a new 747 in a brand new paint scheme, ever.
The airline placed the order for 14 examples and 14 options for roughly $10.6 billion, a bargain by many standards. Boeing also noted that the deliveries will be taking place between 2017 and 2020.
According to UPS, the 747-400F pilots of the company will have a common equipment rating, enabling them to fly both types. The company also highlighted the economies of scale in maintenance and ground handling by operating the 747-8.
UPS currently operates a fleet of 11 747-400F aircraft, which mostly fly out of the “Worldport” at Louisville International Airport, Anchorage International Airport, Hong Kong International Airport, Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport, and Cologne Bonn Airport. The new 747-8F’s are said to fly the Cologne-Hong Kong and Louisville-Cologne routes in a round-the-world routing via Anchorage.
The airline has been hinting at a reveal for many days, and even went as far as to wrap the entire 747 in brown shipping paper for an official reveal. We must say, she looks sharp:
The new line of 747’s will be registered using the N6**UP registration plate, with N607UP being delivered first, followed by N605UP and N606UP, with the others not yet released by Boeing. The first five examples will be line numbers 1542-1546 and construction numbers 64251-64255.