Slow sales of Boeing’s largest plane, the 747-8, are causing the aircraft maker to adjust its production rate to 1.75 planes a month, the company announced Friday.
Boeing has recorded orders for only three 747-8s this year. The company had just one net order for the big plane last year. Since the company began offering the plane for sale, Boeing has received orders for 110 747-8s. Forty-six of those have been delivered. If the company receives no new orders, it would take three years at the new production rate to exhaust the order backlog.
Boeing last year had raised the production pace for the four-engine jumbo jet at its Everett factory to two planes monthly.
“Boeing will continue to monitor market conditions and their effect on production rates moving forward,” the company said in a news release. “The compan expects long-term average growth in the air cargo market to resume in 2014, and forecast a demand for 790 large airplanes to be delivered worldwide over the next 20 years.” The 747-8 and rival Airbus’s A380 are included in that category.
The updated plane’s strongest market thus far has been for freighters, but that business has slowed in the wake of the global economic slowdown. Manufacturers who were using air freight for just-in-time deliveries are in some cases now using ships to deliver their goods because of lower costs.
Boeing updated the jumbo jet with new engines, a new wing and a revised interior.