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Why Boeing Is Buying Up Older 747s

Boeing (BA) is acquiring previous versions of the 747 from airlines ordering its new, tough-to-sell 747-8. Of the 19 older 747s that have changed hands so far this year, Boeing has snapped up seven, according to data compiled by Ascend Online Fleets. ( More...

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Ric Wernicke 6
This is a smart move. Boeing helps the financials of potential buyers by showing on paper a higher trade in price to help balance their books. It is really just an additional discount on the -8. Boeing also helps buyers to consider a -8 that were looking at a 744 for conversion to cargo because there is less product available. This pushes the used gear up in price too. Boeing will show a profit on the used aircraft by parting them out and making spares at lower salvage/rehab prices rather than new production of spare parts for the flying 744 world.
Old cheaper airliners would probably be more in demand if the US didn't finance new Boeings for every Tom, Dick, and Harry worldwide. Kinda like Fannie and Freddie. Why buy cheap planes when you can just as easily sign up for expensive ones. Lol
Bruce Boaze 2
If the price of gasoline had not spiked $3 a gallon almost overnight...
SootBox 4
I'll take a 747 BBJ please... thanks.
U R not alone buddy !
They did it with 727's when they got cheap enough.
The gun ships I believe are c130 Hercules aircraft, which are prop powered and can pretty much take off and land anywhere
matt jensen 1
That's right and I'm still flying one
Hate saying this, as I truly love them, but the 800 should never have been....the 777 killed it,
PhotoFinish 3
You're probably right. The 8 was a reaction to the A380. The reality is that both will suffer for customers and sales for their entire product life cycle. You only need so many super jumbo aircraft in this world.

The 787, A350, and 777 will be the volume and profit sweet spot for manufacturers and airlines.

The A320 and 737 families round out the offerings. They will always make tons of these, as they allow for programatic flexibility in getting passengers to their destinations, so they're always useful. But these won't be as profitable, as the non-super jumbo widebodies (87, 350, 77).

But, both the 747-8 and A380 will be kept in production, long after they run out of steam. They'll eek out very small numbers of them for many years. No amount of revision for these two will create a market for them that simply isn't there. The twins will win over 4 on efficiency.

Talk of stretching the A380 is just as foolish. Squeezing 800-1,000 people on them, to get efficiency closer to the new-generation twin widebodies, will just make them like cattle cars and unpleasant. Imagine the customs or security lines, baggage claim and checkin counters, when 3 or more are loading or unloading at the same time.

But will the eventual success of the 787 and A350 in a few years put similar pressure on the 777X? I predict this 2.0 version will be short-lived, and they'll be working on version 3.0 for the triple in less than a decade.
Right you are Mr.'PhotoFinish'.
I am sure the marketing/business development people of AB/Boeing are paid to study passenger flow on all sectors to visualise/predict/forecast demand pattern for all models, including modifications- 2.0/3.0 or 2.1/2.2! The rule is applied across the board.
sparkie624 2
Some of the reason is they want to see how the older planes have held up and doing some NDT (Non Destructive Testing) and Destructive Testing as well to find weak points and prevent problems from other planes in the future... They did this with other a/c as well such as the 707 and 727.
canuck44 3
At only $16.5M a pop, it would almost make economic sense for the US to buy up some of them, convert a few of them to freighters and deploy them as an Air Guard Transport Squadron to bring our folks home from Afghanistan or to deploy in the future.
PhotoFinish 3
That's a great idea. (but for long-term strategic needs, as in replacing some brand new military freighter purchases).

For short-term, they shoul already be getting some benefit from the pricing of used 747s from the competitive bidding by small private contractors, who factor cost of equipment acquisition into their bids to transport soldiers and military equipment.

Lastly, the last factor is finding/maintaining aviators. The military is already having to pay large bonuses to keep experienced aviators. Training them on large passenger Boeings is only ping to make their transition away easier and faster.

Plus, unless the military choose to use civilian pilots, the private sector find it easier to source 747 pilots, especially experienced ones.

But you're probably right. One way it another these birds are likely bringing efficiency and lower cost to transporting the boys and girls and toys back home.
canuck44 1
...and allows Boeing to keep the 748 line open. The cockpits in the 744 are probably pretty close to the new tankers so there can be a lot of cross training in the front seats anyway.

But then again this is government and we should not expect any money saving for the taxpayers to come from the bureaucrats or politicians.
PhotoFinish 2
I was thinking that.

If anyone could take a cheap used aircraft and build an expensive program around it, it would be the military.

I'm thinking that having a bunch of cheap aircraft around would provide strategic logistic capability to the military.

But it's never that easy. They have to train and maintain aviators, train and maintain mechanics, spare parts, etc., etc.

Also could purchase and ready many of these. Keep some in use, part others in the desert until needed, or after finishing the repatriation, until needed in the fleet again.

But one way or another, the military could be a large user of these old birds, either through direct ownership or through private transport contracts. Using more private contractors would suggest that there is not a long-term strategic need to keeping these planes around for years and the coresponding coat of doing so.

I'm thinking that the birds would be of strategic logistical value to military, even after the massive repatriation.

Though they may be focusing their resources on military systems, and allowing the private sector to provide non-mission services like transport (likely at lower cost).
Just kidding here! But how about a 747 Gunship? Imagine the hardware one of those babies could carry. visualize a low level pass with all guns blazing and using HE and depleted uranium shells along with the traditional high velocity slugs and a half dozen Gatlings on each side
I wonder if they could be converted to bomber duty? After all, B-52's are really getting antiquated.
Anything going on in Area 51 recently?
sparkie624 2
I like your way of thinking, but remember the B52 has LOTS of armor that would be difficult to engineer into the 747.
I worked with Puff (awesome), the c130's got to be incredible, but a 47 decked out could bring a lead curtain. Lol
sparkie624 2
It is an awesome though to see that... LOL, Would like to see enough lead coming out of there to move that plane sideways... I have always been a fan of the PUFF planes starting back from the original DC-3/C47.... Who ever originally had that idea had a great idea.
Armour? I read someplace that the Military R&D is working on a cloaking device. Would make the whole thing nearly invisible. Also could include a high power sound weapon that they already have. Wouldn't that be cool?
skylloyd 1
Many years ago Boeing did a conversion on Pan American 747's and another airline, they called it C.R.A.F. for Civillian Reserve Aircraft Fleet.The conversion was accomplished in Witchita.
If the military needed additional aircraft in a emergency, the 47's could quickly be converted to passenger aircraft.
matt jensen 1
Cheaper to just charter them
Wait a few days. 75 of such 744s are lying around on sand dunes. Markets are sluggish. Price will tumble down.
Think of it as an investment for an airport motel! No?
Like all previous lines, they become redundant because airlines and their accountants demand efficiency and lower operating costs.

If anyone is going to buy a used 747-400 instead of a heavily discounted and new 747-800 or 787 then they will demand a re-engined machine that can operate on similar bottom lines as the new ships.

How much of the older -400 can be used on the -800? The spare parts business is going to be flooded with parts of the retired -400's with fewer in service fleets continuing to shrink in number.

Best thing to do is for Boeing to simply sell on to the USAF all part exchanged 747-400's as replacements for aging C5's to use as they see fit. The presidential fleet will I am sure take at least two of them and be glad of it!
They could part out and -400's they don't need as there is always an after market business out there.
Er.A.K. Mittal -3
Simple math!
747 + garbage = 787
I know I am offending many B fans! Me included.
;-) ;-p
jim entwistle 1
747 + garbage = 787 ? sure looks like it from this side of the pond ! dreadliner and its widely reported problems dont instill much if any confidence in the uk flying public. BA just had an ageing 747 turn back not once but twice with jammed flaps.
I`ve flown 777 200/300 and two different airlines A380`s and i`ll ride the super smooth 380 any day of the week.
Boing boing need to get their act together !!
They never got to the bottom of the battery problem that grounded the dreadliner for so long, all they seemingly did was pull the wool over the faa`s eyes by coming up with a fix good enough to (fingers crossed) get the 787 flying again. Smacks to us of money before safety.
Ric Wernicke 0
On the other hand, my palms would be sweaty if due to a last minute change of aircraft I saw an A380 at the end of the jetway. I don't believe "all the bolts have been tightened" to prevent another uncontained engine failure as in Singapore.

The battery can fail in any device at any time. Engineers must examine the failure mode of any device on the aircraft and take reasonable steps to contain any discrepancy that may arise. I believe that Boeing has done what should have been done from the gitgo for the nervous energy in lithium batteries.

BA should trade in that ageing 74 for a new dash 8! I hate getting on a plane that is older than the grandma that greets me at the door.


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