Boeing halts orders of 747-400

SEATTLE - The Boeing Co. is ending production of the passenger version of its venerable 747-400 jumbo jet, and is no longer taking orders for either the passenger or cargo models of what has been one of its most successful aircraft.

Boeing spokesman Tim Bader said Friday that no new orders will be taken for 747-400 passenger jets or freighters, as the company transitions to its new-generation 747-8. Bader said Boeing expects the first 747-8 freighter to enter service in 2009, followed a year later by the first passenger 747-8.

On Thursday, Boeing posted new orders from unidentified customers for 46 airplanes worth about $9 billion at list prices, and indicated on its Web site that the last four passenger versions of the 747-400 had been removed from its order books.

Bader declined to identify the company that ordered those four planes.

The last of the more than 450 747-400 passenger planes was delivered in April 2005, and the last order was placed by China Airlines in November 2002.

The 747-400, which entered service in 1989, was the best-selling version of the 747, the first version of which was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration in 1969.

Boeing still has orders for 36 747-400 freighters, 18 each for the regular model and an extended-range version, while developing the bigger and more fuel-efficient 747-8 freighter and 747-8 Intercontinental passenger jet.

Six of the new orders posted Thursday, all from an unidentified customer or customers, were for the 747-8 freighter, bringing the total for that model to 60.

Since the 747 program was launched in the 1960s, Boeing has taken more than 1,500 orders for all models of the jet.

Other orders announced Thursday from unidentified customers were for six 777-300ERs and 15 787-9s. Also posted were previously announced orders for two 777s from Philippine Airlines, five 787s from Continental Airlines, and six 737s and six 787s from ALAFCO Aviation Lease and Finance Co. of Kuwait.

That gives Boeing 112 net orders for the year.

Boeing previously logged orders for 24 747-8 Intercontinentals, including 20 from the German carrier Lufthansa. The Intercontinental is designed for about 50 more passengers than the 416-seat 747-400 and will have a new wing and engines.

The 747-400 remains the largest jetliner in passenger service but will lose that status after Singapore Airlines takes delivery of its first 555-passenger Airbus A380 late this year.