USAF picks 747-8 for new AF One, first delivery in 2018; end of program likely

The US Air Force has picked the Boeing 747-8 as the replacement for the 747-200-based Air Force One, reports Bloomberg News. The decision comes as absolutely no surprise.

The USAF selected the Boeing 747-8 as the next Air Force One, replacing the Boeing 747-200Bs used since the Bush 41 Administration.

The first of two 747-8s will be delivered in 2018, Bloomberg reports. The new airplanes won’t enter service until 2023. There are just 36 unfilled orders for the 747-8: 24 for the passenger model and 12 for the freighter. At the current rate of 18/yr, this is two years of backlog. At the reduced rate of 16/yr, this is 2 yrs 3 mos.

Airbus didn’t submit a bid to supply the A380 for Air Force One.

Airbus didn’t submit a bid for its A380 to serve as AF One, something that was probably considered such a remote possibility of being selected that it wasn’t worth its time. It will compete on systems, however.

Boeing hopes to sell the 747-8I to Turkish Airlines, which is considering a widebody order to be decided this year. The 747-8 is against the Airbus A380, with a quantity of 10 under consideration. Boeing is also offering a combination of 777-300ERs and 777Xs in lieu of the 747-8.

747 Firm Orders Del

Boeing has a production gaps for the 747-8 program. Firm Orders for the freighter and passenger airplane fall short this year and next and are virtually non-existent in 2017. There are a small number of firm orders deferred. The first 747-8I for Air Force One is to be delivered in 2018. Click to enlarge into a crisp view.

Absent an order from Turkish, or any others, we now see Boeing announcing an end to the 747-8 perhaps as early as this year, effective with the delivery of the two 747-8s to the USAF.

747 Orders Options Del

Boeing’s 747-8 production gap looks better if Options and LOIs are included, but filling the gap depends on exercising these and obtaining new orders. Click to enlarge into a crisp view.


26 Comments on “USAF picks 747-8 for new AF One, first delivery in 2018; end of program likely

  1. Reuters reported a couple of days ago that Turkish are negotiating for 10 A380s. Of course doesn’t mean they aren’t also negotiating with Boeing.

  2. With the 747 line likely to shut down in the coming years,what will Boeing do with the freed up capacity? Which product line will pick up the capacity?

  3. When the planes for Air Force One went from the 707s to the 747s there was a rather large bump in capability. Just how big a bump will there be going from the -200 to the -8?

      • Probably an escalation in the accessory department like on the abortive Presidential Helo fleet?
        In contrast the 748 can carry her fat well 😉

  4. The 748 will almost certainly be the last 4 engined AF1. It’s most probable that one branch of the U.S. government, the Secret Service, disagrees with another, the FAA, that 2 engines are as safe as 4.

    • SS and FAA view completely different things under the tag “save” for the purpose.

      Still wonder why “The Beast” didn’t get a Multifuel engine
      to fortify against “taking the wrong pump”.

    • The main reason why the USAF specified a quadjet for VC-25 replacement are the power requirements of custom communications and other electronic equipment – not concerns over the safety of two-engined aircraft.

  5. I think the jump from -200 to -8 is not that far. 20% more floor area? I guess the USAF would have preferred the old Emirates-version of the -8 with shorter body and more range.
    After the rather sobering in-service experience by Lufthansa compared to the overall rather positive perception of the A380 would make a decision of THY in favor of the B747-8 unlikely. Discount-wise both A & B are probably to their limit.

    • I’ve noticed that LH does (quite a bit) more advertising for their 748 than they do for the A380. Looks like the 748 needs it?

    • In what way is it sobering? Is it customer satisfaction (I’ve seen poor reviews from passengers but that appears maybe to be down to LH’s thin seat apporach, which isn’t 748 specific) or something else?

    • LH have maintained throughout its time in service that they are very happy with the 747-8.

  6. The 747-8 Air Force One announcement is very likely the “swan song” for the old lady. Beside financial constraints, that’s probably the best time for the mythic plane to retire. That’s moving for every aerospace enthusiast.
    I visited the Everett plant in 2009 and had the opportunity to see (and take some pictures) of one VC25 landing in front of the plant where the last 747-400 was in the last stage of assembly and the first 747-8 was under construction. I guess that the VC25 was there for some kind of maintenance.
    One Dreamlifter was also parked close to the plant.
    That’s an unforgettable experience.

  7. Hello Scott
    Do you think that any Boeing CEO will be pleased with the announcement of the termination of the 747 program ? Any date for McNerney retirement ?

    Best regards

    • Would a CEO be “pleased?” Probably not, but reality is what it is.

      McNerney’s full retirement is likely in 2016, after Boeing’s 100th. When/if he fleets up to non-executive chairman is anyone’s guess.

  8. No.

    All those cheap 747-400Fs to convert that have the conversion design in place

  9. Curious, do you think the current Air Force Ones will be displayed in a museum or scrapped?
    Presidential limos are now scrapped rather than donated to museums for fear that security measures that are built-in will be compromised. Wonder if the same applies to airplanes.

  10. Pingback: Air Force One : No Longer to be a Proud Image of America's Supremacy - The Travel Insider

  11. The Airline industry is focussed on cost reductions. Huge aircraft are expensive to buy and costly to maintain. No wonder the B747-8 and A380 are not amongst the favourites in their shopping carts. The B748 programme should not have been pursued. It’s going to create a big hole in Boeing’s pocket. The best option for them will be to improve on the B777 and B787 programmes. These are the most suitable long range aircraft for most Intl Airlines around the globe. Double engine types with significant capacity are much more economical than the quad engines.

  12. Airplanes of all kinds are obsolete. Elon Musk will soon beam everyone up to Mars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *