Boeing has announced a fourth rate cut for the 747-8 programme over a two-year period, lowering monthly output to only one per month beginning in March 2016.
The latest planned reduction will cut the monthly production rate for the 747-8 by half compared to where it stood in early 2015.
Boeing is currently building 747-8s at a rate of 1.5 per month, which declines to 1.3 aircraft in August under a previously announced decision.
“We are making the right decisions to allow us to continue to run a healthy business with a change to our production rate,” Boeing says.
In early 2014, one Boeing supplier, LMI Aerospace, said any rate below 1.5 per month for the 747-8 would be financially costly for the supply chain.
But Boeing officials have said that a year-long cost reduction effort has made rates as low as one aircraft month feasible.
“One a month would keep it profitable,” Boeing vice-president and general manager of the 747-8 programme Bruce Dickinson told reporters in May.
The programme appeared to get a morale boost at the Paris air show only a week ago, when Russian cargo operator Volga-Dnepr signed a memorandum of understanding to buy up to 20 747-8 Freighters.
“We continue to believe in the long-term strength of the freighter market and the 747-8 is uniquely positioned to capture this demand; of note is the 747-400 Freighter replacement market which begins next decade,” Boeing says.
Boeing also offers the 777 Freighter in the same market category, but the 747-8F is the only aircraft able to carry certain types of outsize cargo.
The US Air Force also has committed to buy up to three 747-8 VIP aircraft to replace two 747-200s operating as Air Force One and designated as VC-25As. But current budget plans do not fully fund the acquisition of the first two aircraft until Fiscal 2020.