October 5, 2022

Boeing 747: Last delivery of the jumbo jet in December, end of production

The end of production of perhaps the world’s best-known aircraft is almost certain to occur in just a few months.

Confirmation that a global cargo airline will likely receive its last Boeing 747 by December is the nail in the coffin for the famed jumbo jet.

It will close a remarkable run for the 747, which first flew in 1969 and, through its various models, has been in constant production for more than half a century.

Known as the “Queen of the Skies”, the 747 – with its distinctive hump on the upper deck – has for decades been a common sight at international airports.

But the trend towards smaller, more fuel-efficient planes that are cheaper to operate, along with the savage Covid-19 that has gripped the industry, has seen the 747 fall out of favour, with many airlines calling them. withdrawing from their fleets.

Qantas once operated 30 747s from Australia to destinations including Los Angeles, Singapore, London, Frankfurt, Johannesburg and Santiago. But he retired his last jumbo jet in June 2020 as the pandemic was in full swing.

Final 747 deliveries confirmed

New York-based Atlas Air, whose planes are often seen in Australia, said it expects its three remaining 747-8 Freighters to be delivered by the end of the year.

The trio of jets is the latest standard 747 delivery in Boeing’s order books.

“The acquisition of these jumbo jets underscores our confidence in the demand for international air cargo capacity, particularly in express, e-commerce and fast-growing global markets, and will generate strong returns for Atlas in the years to come. come,” the airline said. in a report.

All that remains to be built after the Atlas Air planes will be two heavily modified 747s for the US government to replace the current Air Force One planes. These are so modified that they are not known as 747s but as “VC-25s”.

Although there is no exact date set for the last transfer of a scheduled 747 aircraft, it is likely to occur in December.

Images have emerged of at least one of the final three planes being developed at Boeing’s Seattle factory.

Boeing has signaled for some time that the jumbo jet is on its last wings. In July 2020, when the Atlas Air order was announced, the Chicago-based company said the the planes would mark the end of production.

“Atlas Air began operations 28 years ago with just one 747 and it is only fitting that they will receive the last 747 production aircraft, ensuring the ‘Queen of the Skies’ plays an important role in the global air cargo market. for decades to come,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Stan Deal said at the time.

The 747 first flew in 1969. The defunct PanAm was the first airline to take delivery of the revolutionary aircraft that could carry more people farther than ever before.

For Australians, this has reduced the so-called ‘kangaroo route’ with its multiple stops to and from London to a single stop halfway between the UK and Australia.

Airbus’ giant A380 superjumbo was designed to cut the grass from the 747. More than 250 have been built, but by the time the A380 entered service, airlines were already trending towards larger planes. small with two rather than four gas-guzzling engines.

Production of the A380 spanned 17 years, with the last rolling off the production line in 2021. Qantas continues to operate the superjumbo.

While the 747 had been in production for much longer, it was also rocked by the same forces as the A380.

A new version, the 747-8 introduced in the mid-2000s, was longer and taller than any other version of the jumbo jet.

Boeing had hoped to sell 300 747-8s, driving customers away from the A380, but managed to move barely half that number. Of the passenger airlines that still wanted jumbos in recent decades, more opted for the Airbus version than the Boeing one.

Two-thirds of the 747-8s went to freight carriers who loved it for its ability to swallow huge amounts of cargo.

The 747 will fly for decades, with most airframes having an operational life of at least twenty years. Freight airlines can usually survive for a few more years.

But the chances of flying as a passenger on a 747 are rapidly diminishing. Most major international airlines have abandoned airplanes altogether. Hundreds rust away at remote airports or are eaten for parts.

Qantas has preserved two 747s, one in Longreach, Queensland, and the other being cared for by the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society at Shellharbour Airport, south of Sydney.

Among the major passenger carriers, few still have the jumbo in their fleet. These airlines are Air China, Germany’s Lufthansa, Korean Air and Korea’s Asiana.

So if you’re flying to Beijing, Shanghai, Frankfurt or Seoul, you can always take a ride on a 747.

But if you’re heading elsewhere, the days of the 747 are already over.

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