Jan asked in Cars & TransportationAircraft · 1 month ago

Why does no one bother to modernize  the Boeing 747s?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but many of the 737s today are in their exact configuration from when they rolled off the production line.  All of these 737's also use floppy disks to update the information stored in its small capacity computers. 

Also, were the A320s used in the military once civilian aircraft? 


It's old. It has whatever technology was available in the '60s. 

7 Answers

  • 1 month ago

    When the 747 came out the trend in aviation was a hub and spoke airport system.   They also had fewer flights each day so a great big plane going hub to hub made sense.   Today the trend is for more frequent flights with smaller planes and more direct flights bypassing the hub.   For that the airlines are going with smaller high efficiency designs.   The A380 would have been a great competitor of the 747 when it came out but now it is way too late.   Only some of the big international carriers are buying it.   

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    What does a 737 have to do with a 747.  Tell us how it is possible that you never heard of the 777 series.  How did that escape your attention?  Inquiring minds want to know.

  • 1 month ago

    747 planes are too costly to manufacture and to operate.  They required four engines.  Today's planes only require two.  The 737 was always an excellent design.  Not much to improve.

  • 1 month ago

    Because of the cost.

    An aircraft is a certified group of systems. No one is allowed to change anything in the way it operates unless willing to pay for a re-certification of all the impacted systems. A 25 year old 737 might be selling for less than $4 millions, while a new one is $120 millions. Now, who would want to pay for new systems and re-certify an aircraft that will be retired in a couple of years anyway? Boeing would not be interested since there is no money in there for them; the aircraft has been paid for a quarter of a century ago, and their obligation is to maintain the systems to the level they were at when the plane was new, and to incorporate the updates mandated by the certification authorities.

    (And for the record, floppy disks were commercialized only from 1971; 3 1/2 inch floppy disks are a 1980 technology)

    As for the military A320, it is up to the buyer to decide if they purchase a used airplane or a new one, but generally, they would go with a new airframe since their requirements for installation would differ (no needs to passengers seating and in flight entertainment) and that their specific equipment would have particular requirements in terms of wiring.

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  • david
    Lv 5
    1 month ago

    That's a whole lot of money for no gain. The only entities that do that are government entities like the US federal government to keep employment up/satisfy the promises made during the last "exploratory committee" period of some politicians reelection. 

  • 1 month ago

    The simple answer is that there is no return on investment to do that.

    In order to "modernize" the controls on an old 737 you would need to do the following:

    1. Spend money developing new flight controls and software.

    2. Spend more money on testing and documentation to convince the FAA and other regulatory agencies to allow you to put the modified controls on a commercial aircraft.

    3. Spend money buying the components and installing them on existing aircraft. This includes the parts & labor for installation, the fuel and pilot salaries for test flights, and also the money you lose because the airplane is in the hanger being worked on instead of in the air making money.

    4. You have to re-train pilots to fly the new airplanes and probably train technicians to service and repair the new control systems.

    After spending all this money where's the payback?

    Modern controls don't make the airplane more fuel efficient, so you don't save money there.

    Modern controls won't extend the range or increase the weight capacity, so you don't increase the amount of money you can earn from ticket sales or cargo fees.

    Modern controls don't extend the life of the air frame, which is limited by pressure cycles, so you haven't deferred the cost of a replacement aircraft.

    There's simply no financial incentive from a business perspective to spend time and effort modernizing the controls.

  • geezer
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    Why ''modernise'' ?

    They do what they were made to do.

    They get people from A to B.

    As the saying goes .. ''If it aint broken, don't fix it''.

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