Aviation: Why the era of wide-body aircraft is about to end

Around a decade and a half ago, my wife and I stood on the dike of the Airbus site in Hamburg-Finkenwerder after a bike ride in the Altes Land, which was still accessible at the time. Actually, we just wanted to take a look at the aircraft yard of the European aviation group. But a loud roar tore us out of consideration: An Airbus A380 came back from a test flight. He flew past almost at eye level and then landed on the specially extended runway.

It was a gigantic sight – but it will be rare and probably soon no longer to be enjoyed: The era of the four-engine A380 and Boeing 747 will end. This has been foreseeable for some time. However, the crisis that the Covid 19 pandemic plunged the aviation industry into accelerated. Over 90 percent of these machines are currently on the ground.

The 747 should no longer start …

Various airlines will not let them take off even after the crisis. British Airways (BA) announced in mid-July that their 31 jumbos will not start. The Australian airline Qantas and the Dutch KLM had already decommissioned their 747 at the end of March.

Lufthansa also announced in March that its A380 will remain on the ground for the time being. In April the German airline announced that it would withdraw five of its 747s and 14 of the A380s. Air France wanted to shut down its A380s by 2022, but preferred to do so.

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“The corona virus is an accelerator”said Remy Bonnery, aviation expert at French consulting firm Archery Consulting, the news agency Agence France Press (afp). By the middle of the decade, Airbus and Boeing had problems dropping their wide-bodied aircraft. There were initial rumors that at least Airbus would give up its large-scale project again.

But it did take a while: at the beginning of last year, Airbus finally announced that it would stop building the A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft. The reason was that several airlines had withdrawn their orders, the company said in February 2019.

… and are no longer built

Boeing took a little more time: earlier this month the US news agency Bloomberg reported citing sources with insider knowledge that the U.S. aerospace company will no longer build the 747.

That has not yet been officially announced. But the last machine will be completed in about two years. This should not come as a surprise, however: supplier Triumph closed the factory in which the hulls with the typical hump were built last year. The last order for a 747 was received by Boeing in 2017 – for the presidential aircraft Air Force One.

Photo book: 50 years of Boing 747. Everything about the legendary jumbo jet.

The giants of the sky: the Boeing 747 … (Image: Werner Pluta /

This is sad news for aircraft fans.

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