After a generation of progressively bigger aircraft flying more passengers longer distances between world capitals the recent trend toward smaller and more fuel efficient jets connecting smaller cities may spell the end of the jumbo jet era.
Boeing ceased production in 2009 of the most common passenger version of its iconic 747 ‘Jumbo Jet’, the 747-400, with its successor model, the 747-800, mostly built in freighter configuration for delivery to world cargo airlines. British Airways, once the largest operator of Jumbo Jets in the world, announced a planned phase out of their 747 fleet by 2020 in favour of more fuel efficient Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft. Delta Airlines meantime will retire it’s remaining thirteen 747’s in 2017.
Airbus’ A380 two-deck ‘Super Jumbo’ is not immune to the waning demand for large airframes as the first airline to fly the aircraft, Singapore Airlines, recently announced in this article it was returning that first model, a bad sign for the Toulouse, France-based manufacturer. Other airlines have also announced plans to scale back or abandon previously placed A380 orders further reinforcing the message that bigger isn’t always better anymore.