HOTR: Moving up the 777-8F?

 By the Leeham News Staff

June 4, 2020, © Leeham News: A lawsuit filed by cargo specialist Volga Dnepr against Boeing claims Boeing is running out the clock on the 747-8F.

The report by The Seattle Times makes for interesting reading. Key of HOTR is the reference that Boeing plans to end 747 production within three years. This is longer than LNA believes. Regardless, the three-year timeline fits with information LNA about the 777-8F.

LNA is told Boeing sales floated the possibility of launching the 777-8F around 2023-24. This would bring forward the launch by about two years from plans when the X program was launched in 2013.

Then, the entry into service for the 777-9 was targeted for 2019-2020. This was to be followed by the 777-8 passenger model in two years and then the 8F two years after that.

During the fallout of the MAX grounding, the 777-8 was deferred indefinitely. Now, with COVID upending demand, customers are deferring and talking about canceling 777X orders. Boeing is reducing 777 production from five to three per month. The 777-9 production will go to one per month.

The 777 Classic line is sustained by the 777-200LRF. The 777-8F concept is a couple of frames longer than the -8P but shorter than the 777-9.

Having spent more than $1bn for the advanced Composite Wing Center to build 777X wings and having produced about a dozen 777-9s so far, Boeing needs to boost the X sales prospects.

Bringing forward the -8F is the way to do so.

Aftermarket services

The extent of the impact of the COVID crisis on aftermarket services is only beginning to emerge.

In its 1Q2020 earnings call, Boeing said its Global Services unit revenue was flat at $4.6bn. There was more Government Services volume. But this was “largely offset by lower Commercial Services” due to the virus.

“We only saw the beginning of the impact of COVID-19 on our Commercial Services demand for the first quarter,” said CFO Greg Smith. “We expect COVID-19 to have a significantly larger impact on the BGS business in future periods.”

Greg Hayes, the CEO of Raytheon Technologies (RTX), said the aftermarket business at its Collins Aerospace subsidiary was off sharply. CFO Toby O’Brien said RTX believes the current, second quarter will be worst quarter this year.

Aftermarket was down 60% for Pratt & Whitney and down 50%-60% for the Collins aftermarket business unit. The unit accounts for 35% of Aerospace’s revenue.

O’Brien doesn’t see a full recovery until sometime in 2022.

Different approaches

Wizz Air, the low-cost airline in Europe, will slow fleet modernization as it recovers from the COVID crisis.

Indigo Airlines of India will, instead, retire older aircraft and take delivery of new ones.


SMBC Aviation Capital will defer 68 Boeing 737 MAXes from 2021-2022 to 2025-2027. Some suggest this “threatens” the comeback of the Boeing 737 MAX.

LNA disagrees. It delays the comeback, but this already was the case. Delivery dates for deferrals already were shifted as several customers rejigged the schedule. Since most predict recovery to 2019 traffic levels will take 3-5 years, customers are shifting schedules accordingly.

Ready for takeoff

There is an under-the-radar aviation podcast site called Ready For Takeoff. It covers a variety aviation topics. Its host, George Nolly, recently did one with LNA’s Scott Hamilton.



44 Comments on “HOTR: Moving up the 777-8F?

  1. I was wondering about the Boeing sales executives, they got those commissions for selling the 737Max, do they get a second commission for juggling the deferred orders. After all there won’t be hardly any new orders for a while.
    Interesting situation solving the existing 777F and 747F end of production and bringing forward the 777XF. That only leaves the 767F as the odd one out, and maybe more of a surprise to come?

    • Volga Dnepr, the biggest cock up since Decca rejected the Beatles. Stand by for the next obvious unexpected event, the massive cargo capacity glut of 2021.

      • Well Put!

        Reading Dnepr was a hoot. We cancelled the contract but we didn’t mean it because suddenly we have this crisis and we really did not mean cancel, it just read like that. Pheweee.

        That said, cargo glut? I don’t see the Pax freight thingy as anything more than PR. Its not like the cabins are ripped out and floor systems installed. Its not remotely efficient (huge hands on).

        It will drop away as things recover. Be a few years before the F conversion begin from all the retied 767s and the its coming 777BCF.

  2. Reminds of Lufthansa’s disappointment in Boeing after they took over the MD-11F. They had about 20 MD-11 Freighters and Boeing pulled the rug out from under that program, too.

  3. The 777-8F is pretty logical. The US Goverment cargo freight buyers most likely givers “most favored nation” treatment to US buyers of this bird…

  4. I wonder if Boeing will stay with 250 real orders of 777x in post-Covid-19 reality.

  5. An aside, no Post on the 737MAX resuming production.

    I find that amazing.

    • @TW: Boeing hasn’t said what “resuming production” actually means. So until it does, or until LNA learns on its own, there’s nothing substantive to report.

      • Hmmm, so we passively sit by rather than dig into this? I think its worth a comment and call Jon Ostower. Granted that is just me.

        • @TW, Who said we’re passively sitting by?

          BTW, Ostrower hasn’t written about this, either. Go rag him.

        • @TW: What is with the snarky attitude?

          This is a great site and even better a lot of the content is free. Take the arm chair quarterbacking elsewhere.

      • I will also remind you that the A380F thing has no substance while the 737MAX does.

        Its such an absurd notion while the MAX will be back in service, probably by the end of they year.

        • @TW, tell you what. You start your own blog and make your editorial judgments.

          • Scott:

            Being kind of touchy or crabby aren’t we?

            Let me know the exact parameters of the allowed and I will follow or jump off. Otherwise I don’t see the comments as any kind of out of bounds. Happy to be illuminated.

            Your statement indicated passively waiting rather than looking into.

            I see this as commenting not ragging.

            So yes, the A380F is a fluff thing and the MAX status is consequential.

            I don’t think I have seen a fluff up piece like the A380F thing nor a diss or relevance solid details or not.

            So I am disappointed as well. If its all getting to you I can understand that part. We all have our low points

            A380F has no solid details either let alone the pure pie in the sky spin it is.

          • @TW: I don’t need to explain to you how we go about pursuing leads or stories.

          • No you don’t.

            Always worth keeping in mind that constructive criticism has a place.

            Who do we know that has no affect on?

      • Boeing stock has jumped like they are about to make money. The actual sales of jets could be nine months away. Buy the rumor sell the news. That’s why I’m bagging groceries.

        • The ‘restart’ is old news now , came around May 27

          And as Seattle Times said
          “In his message, Deal outlined the changes to the MAX assembly process:
          A new standard set of tool kits and work processes for each work position in the factory.
          New control centers beside the assembly line on the factory floor, where engineers can provide real-time support to mechanics.
          A reconfigured factory layout to eliminate unnecessary equipment and provide teams a clear line of sight to the airplane.
          “These initiatives will help us reach our goals of zero safety incidents, zero FOD, 100% quality and 100% of each job completed in its position,” Deal wrote in his message.
          Deal said the restart of the line heralds “a slow ramp up of production over the remainder of this year.”

          Leaves a lot of other information unanswered, the biggy of course the monthly rate and increments.
          And it sounds as though during the ‘production but no delivery’ phase, standards had slipped as customer airlines werent going over shiny new planes with a fine tooth comb looking for faults , and instead Boeing staff just moved a plane to storage as is.
          Im sure LNA will cover any ‘new news’ when they have it. Plenty of sites rerun generic stories to pad their feeds doesnt mean all have to.

    • Best reporting on the MAX restart was from the Seattle Times a week ago. As Scott said, it’s vague and it looks like they will do a slow start-up to monitor and assess quality control, since production pressure is now removed. It made sense to me given the problems they’ve had and the backlog of orders.

      Customers have mostly stayed with the MAX thus far, even through all the problems and the COVID crisis. So we’ll have to see if that continues.

      Things are still pretty uncertain as to financial stability of airlines. But there are movements now to ramp up service again, as Scott said domestic first and then international, around the world.

      Several airlines and the ICAO have announced their COVID-mitigation plans, although still far from settled. I look forward to Bjorn’s series on this again tomorrow. It’s been interesting to consider his views along with others who are working on this problem.

  6. Boeing is faced with replacing Triumph as a supplier on the 747-8F.

    That said, the 747-8F has uniqud capality with nose load that no 777 can match.

    UPS went with the far more expensive 747-8F vs a F conversion on 747-400. If UPS wants the nose (they move packages like FedEx and its a convenience item) then others are going to need it as its an established system for heavy Freight.

    UPS is reported to want more above and beyond the Dnepr drops.

    The other consideration is that Boeing could have come out with a 777-300F, not the 200F. The assessment was the market and ops did not work for a 300F.

    Now it does?

    With low oil prices a 747-400 PCF looks vastly more economical.

    Have to wonder if this is not just Boeing desperation spin PR for Calhoun while he builds his golden parachute.

    • Makes me wonder why Amazon did not go with the Eights (both the 747 and the 777x.) If they really want to bury the competition, there going to need a bigger “boat,” ah, I mean plane.

      • I’d assume that the cargo Amazon ships is mostly constrained by space as opposed to payload. In addition, they are not flying the kind of intercontinental routes that UPS and FedEx are serving. So both the 777 and 747 do not make sense for them.

        On the other hand, an NMA cargo version would be highly attractive to Amazon.

        • Amazon has distribution all over the country and the point to point does not justify a 747, let alone a -8F. You can pick up 400F or 400 PCF quite cheaply if they had any use for them.

          FedEx and UPS have gone big into 767, it works for US Inter Asia, Inter Europe etc.

          Amazon with US only needs 767s.

          UPS acualy flies their Internationally as well, at least last look a year ago about 1/3 of their ANC flights (Asia) were 767. They run them differently than FedEx. So it can be done if your bulk is not there.

        • NMA cargo version, I guess the only plane to fit that bill would be an 800F, that being a A330-800F.

          • We can only speculate how a 797-8F will look like. A carbon wing is pretty much given. The fuselage depends on how quick and cheaply robots can wind it if composite, the odds point to a Al-Li narrowbody metal fuelage build by robots and next generation 787 systems that are cost effective. Its main issue is its engines, no modern engine in the 35-40k class exist and you want it very reliable from day one hence it points to a large core engine running pretty cold and a large fan, almost a GEnX without a booster and fewer LPT stages. It might be heavy compared to a promised upgraded PW1135G hitting 37k as a thrust bump option. The fuselage diameter is a key balancing act for a 3+3 seating, the mass and drag increases with diameter but comfort and cargo capacity increases, so maybe 1/2″ extra per seat giving a 3″ increase over the A320neo, so the engines and wings need to compensate for this and specifying engines with large fans that cannot fit the A320ne0 might be the Boeing option. Boeing might go for folding wingtips on the 797 as well to fit current narrowbody gates. Making the basic version a 200 seater and the (-300) a 250 seater with boarding thru wide fwd, mid and aft doors will avoid the 757-300 problem. The aft doors might be build into cargo doors as was done on the C-47’s when rebuilt as DC-3’s making it ready for a quick and easy cargo conversion.

          • Boeing is not coming out with a new anything for a while, maybe ever.

            F options will continue to be what there is available regardless.

            Lots of feed stock for 767, 737.

            Long term a 777-8F might fit for FedEx with the bulk out before weight out (UPS is deeply committed to the 747-8F) but I don’t see it as a heavy F ala the 747.

            A330F has gone no where and the A320 conversion is anemic.

    • Interesting outcome for the half a million square foot building in Hawthorne, Los Angeles, the old Northrop plant that used to make fuselage sections for the 747.
      Its now the HQ and production facility for Elon Musk and his SpaceX rockets.
      His comments in Air&Space Mag at the time ( 2012) were interesting
      ” They don’t even file patents, Musk says, because “we try not to provide a recipe by which China can copy us and we find our inventions coming right back at us.”

      • ” They don’t even file patents, Musk says, because “we try not to provide a recipe by which China can copy us and we find our inventions coming right back at us.”

        A sentiment expressed by German managers long before China came up on the RADAR. US Infatuation with the Chinese stealing IP is majorly bigotted.

  7. There is some activity around the MAX, N7201S was back in the air again on June 2nd, after last having been flying on May 5th.

    I would have thought there would be work being done on changing the wiring on the existing MAX aircraft built but not yet delivered as well as FOD checks, and remediation even if assembly of new aircraft hadn’t gained much momentum.

    I’m also wondering what happened to the aircraft with the pickle fork issue. Have some of those gone away as now surplus to requirements or airlines failed?

    Seems like there’s quite a bit for Boeing to be getting on with, but also so much dust to settle yet.

    • Agreed there is a lot happening and we are not getting reports on .

      Pickles repair is probably simply stopped unless its the only aircraft an operations. Newer will come back sooner. And we have no long term as to why its occurring and why random.

    • JakDak, the cabling solution has to be approved by the FAA before it can be implemented.

      Boeing has worked on some aircraft in order to create and demonstrate the plan. I don’t know if it has been submitted and approved yet, but would expect an AD to be issued when it is.

      At the FAA’s discretion, mitigation could be required before RTS, or within a specified time after RTS. Even with a specified time, customers may still require Boeing to apply the AD before delivery of new/stored aircraft.

      The signal wire bundled with the power cable to the tail control surfaces will be abandoned, and a new signal wire routed. That is easier and safer then trying to separate the bundle. In the electronics bay, it’s possible to rearrange and separate cabling to achieve compliance.

      It’s not viewed as a major safety issue, given the safe history of the NG. It’s mainly a compliance issue. The regulations were changed before the MAX was certified, with a mechanism Boeing should have used to request review by the FAA, so the MAX should have been compliant at certification.

    • A pilot has flown this in the simulator and posted the video. The initial gear down lever can be ignored by the A320 in overspeed, with a single audible alarm, but of course without 3 green. The gear must then be cycled up/down after speed is reduced. No sign that the pilot did that until after the engine touchdown.

      Since the approach was highly un-stabilized, being too steep and too fast, there were multiple alarms for sink rate and other conditions, including a terrain warning since gear were still up, and also a gear warning. But enough that the pilot may have not enumerated them all in his mind. Also the gear lever would still be down, but without 3 green. It would be rushed as compared to a stabilized approach. Checklist may have been rushed as well.

      After touchdown, the pilot apparently did not realize the engines were damaged. The simulation showed that a safe direct return was possible, but the pilot opted initially to do another ILS approach, changing to direct only when the engines lost power. He was too far out at that point to land successfully.

      So many questions and one seemingly poor choice after the other. The main question is why continue with an unstable approach when ATC offered him another multiple times. Some pilots have said that such an approach, even if successful, could be cause for dismissal. So seems like a major risk to take.

      • Could be a convoluted case of “getthereitis”.

        “Retargeting your intentions” : What Sullenberger really excelled at.

  8. So, by the end of the decade, after the 747-8F has ended production and the tooling is scrapped, is it possible – or perhaps, likely – a replay of the “757 replacement” fiasco will be at hand?!?!

    But, hey, why not burn the furniture now (sacrificing the 747-8F) to salvage that $1 billion 777-X carbon composite wing production facility to cram 777-8Fs down cargo airlines that lack competing options and just have to take what McBoeing decides they have to buy – and then worry about NOT having anything available in 10 years time when there’ll be a huge hole in the product line.

    Oh, wait, just like McBoeing did with the (lack of a) 757 replacement.

    Of. Course. 🙄

    Yeah, because monopolies are so great! Said by no one – except monopolists like McBoeing, that is.

    PS: Anyone up for starting a long term office pool for the month/year when airlines start pining away for 748s the way they did last decade for 757s? Hehehe 😉

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