BULLISH MARKET FORECAST! BULLISH MARKET FORECAST!
The following information may be of interest to Artists, Architects, Aviation Buffs, Crafty Types, Flight Sim Geeks, Readers of Make magazine, Survivalists, and/or Very Wealthy People with a Taste for Ostentation:
Have you ever dreamed of purchasing your very own Boeing 747?
If so, now is the time to talk with your finance people and get all your ducks in a row. During the next two to five years, the price of used Boeing 747s may fall to historic lows as the global supply of dead 747s climbs to unprecedented highs. The in-service arrival of next-generation widebody aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747-8 means that several hundred of today's oldest 747s -- mostly 747-200 models built during the 1970s that are currently used as air freighters -- will soon be headed out to pasture.
Aviation Week outlines the market forces behind the coming surge in used 747 inventories:
Mass retirement is looming for the world's fleet of aging freighters, especially Boeing 747-200s. Boeing says that 40% of the 320 747 freighters in service are at least 25 years old but keep flying because strong demand for new passenger jets and delays in delivery of Airbus A380s have suppressed the supply of replacement airplanes. James Edgar, a cargo specialist with Boeing, says the old 747s "will be retired in droves" in the next few years as airframe production catches up with global traffic demand and passenger transports such as 747-400s are released for conversion to freighters.
Inevitably, a few of these vintage 747-200s will continue to fly, and some may be converted into technology testbeds or supersized VIP private jets. (Heads-up Larry and Sergey!) Most, however, will be ferried out to the desert, broken up, and salvaged for scrap.
How much will a used 747 cost you? If you're in the market for an entire aircraft, expect to pay around $100,000 for a complete hull that has been stripped of reusable components such as engines, landing gear, and cockpit avionics. Your hollowed-out but otherwise-intact 747 will probably look something like this:
Photo by Grackle50
The interior of your 747 will be 187 feet (57 m) long and 20 feet (6.1 m) wide, and as you look aft, it will look much like this:
What a bargain! For far less than the cost of a new Ferrari, you could be the first on your block to have your very own 747. Particularly if you think the whole shipping container architecture thing has become a bit trite, this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to blaze new trails in the annals of creative-reuse. Don't giggle: Various backwoods-types have already converted smaller Boeing 727s into prefab houses (interior views here), and a woman in Southern California made headlines in 2005 when it was learned that she planned to build a high-end house in the hills around Malibu using various pieces of a single 747.
That was two years ago, so Telstar Logistics contacted the the offices of David Hertz, the architect who designed the 747 House, to get an update on the project. We were told that the site work is complete and construction is getting underway, and that the concrete foundations will be poured soon. Here's how the 747 House will look:
The 747 House: Main structure, left; Meditation pavilion, right. Illustrations via Syndesis, Inc.
If for various reasons a whole 747 is too much to swallow, you could also purchase select pieces of the airframe. For example, a 747 cockpit section could be converted into a sleek back yard studio or office pod:
Arched sections of 747 fuselage can be used to create Quonset huts or out-buildings, like this crude 747-based shed we saw in use at an aircraft scrapyard:
And if all that still seems a bit LARGE, remember that even random bits of 747 can look great if you display them as "recontextualized art." We speak here with some confidence, because in 2005 Telstar Logistics paid $375 for a big chunk of a Boeing 707. We then refinished the piece, added backlighting, and hung it on the wall of our Corporate Headquarters:
Perhaps we're due for a widebody upgrade?
In any event, keep an eye out at a boneyard near you as those hundreds of old 747s begin to arrive for hospice care. If past trends are any guide, the scrapyards around Mojave, Calif., Victorville, Calif., and Marana, Ariz. are likely to become fertile ground for 747 bargain-hunters.
Just don't forget to bring your checkbook.
Jet Set Ruins (aircraft boneyard photos by Telstar Logistics)
747 Wing House (Syndesis Inc. website with lots of great photos of the 747 house plan)
(Photos: All images by Telstar Logistics, unless otherwise indicated.)