Greater than half a century because the authentic jumbo jet ushered in a glamorous new jet age, serving to carry reasonably priced air journey to thousands and thousands of passengers, the last-ever Boeing 747 was delivered on Tuesday, marking the beginning of the ultimate chapter for the much-loved airplane.
In a ceremony that was broadcast reside on-line, the plane was handed over to its new proprietor, US air cargo operator Atlas Air, at Boeing’s plant in Everett, Washington.
In a dramatic opening of the hangar’s sliding doorways, Atlas Air’s new airplane was revealed behind flags bearing the liveries of each provider that’s ever taken supply of a 747. The corporate has 56 of the plane in its fleet.
One small vital element on the final one delivered: a decal proper subsequent to the nostril paying homage to Joe Sutter, chief engineer of the Boeing 747 program, who died in 2016 and is taken into account by many because the “father” of this well-known plane. Members of the Sutter household, in addition to members of the Boeing household representing the corporate’s founder, Invoice Boeing, attended the supply ceremony on Tuesday.
John Dietrich, president and CEO of Atlas Air Worldwide, thanked the meeting of Boeing workers.
“The impression of your work continues nicely past the manufacturing strains,” Dietrich mentioned. “It has fueled childhood goals and profession ambitions whereas on the identical time driving world economies and provide chains.”
Dietrich additionally shared a flight plan spelling out “747” that the brand new airplane is ready to fly on Wednesday.
A string of audio system representing firms which have relied on the 747 got here to have fun the plane.
“The 747 is an emblem for a lot of, many issues, and above all, I feel it’s an emblem for the world, which the 747 has made considerably smaller,” mentioned Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr.
Actor and pilot John Travolta, who narrated a sequence of movies chronicling the plane’s colourful historical past, appeared to thank the workers of Boeing for “probably the most well-thought-out and most secure plane ever constructed.”
Whereas the ultimate 747 gained’t be carrying paying passengers, its supply is one other milestone for the distinctive double-decker “Queen of the Skies,” which revolutionized intercontinental journey whereas additionally showing in James Bond movies and even giving piggyback rides to the Area Shuttle.
With the final passenger 747 having entered service greater than 5 years in the past, the top of the 747’s enduring profession now strikes even nearer, hastened by airways switching their preferences to smaller and extra economical plane.
Tuesday’s supply is a second lengthy anticipated by the worldwide aviation group. Expectant airplane lovers have adopted each step of the ultimate 747’s building, ever since Boeing introduced in July 2020 that it was ceasing manufacturing of its one-time flagship.
The plane, registered as N863GT, made its first public look in December, when it was rolled out of the Boeing assembly line coated in anti-corrosive green paint. In early January, images appeared on-line of the plane, already carrying the Atlas Air livery and the homage to Joe Sutter.
Curiously for a jet that predates the Apollo Moon landings (it hit the skies a number of months earlier, in February 1969), the Boeing 747’s manufacturing line has outlasted that of one in every of its most direct current rivals, the Airbus A380, which was produced between 2003 and 2021.
It was the introduction of the European double-decker airplane within the early 2000s that prompted Boeing to announce, in 2005, one final model of the 747 design that by that point was already beginning to present its age.
The B747-8I (or B747-8 Intercontinental), as this final variant of the venerable jumbo jet is known as, proved to be a swan tune for big four-engined airliners.
Despite the fact that the A380 is at present having fun with a revival, with airways dashing to carry saved plane again to service in response to the post-Covid air site visitors restoration, these giants of the skies wrestle to compete with the operational flexibility and gasoline economies of smaller twin-engined jets.
As of December 2022, there are solely 44 passenger variations of the 747 nonetheless in service, in response to aviation analytics agency Cirium. That whole is down from greater than 130 in service as passenger jets on the finish of 2019, simply earlier than the pandemic crippled demand for air journey, particularly on worldwide routes on which the 747 and different widebody jets have been primarily used. Most of these passenger variations of the jets have been grounded in the course of the early months of the pandemic and by no means returned to service.
Lufthansa stays the biggest operator of the passenger model of the B747-8, with 19 in its present fleet and potential commitments to maintain the jumbo flying passengers for years, presumably a long time, to return.
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The 747 has confirmed extra widespread amongst cargo operators. There are nonetheless 314 747 freighters in use, in response to Cirium, lots of which have been initially used as passenger jets earlier than being renovated into freighters.
Options such because the distinctive nose-loading functionality, and the cockpit’s elevated place, leaving the entire size of the decrease fuselage accessible to hold large-volume objects, have made it a cargo favourite.
Tuesday’s supply additionally brings questions on what is going to occur to Boeing’s huge Everett manufacturing unit, by which the 747 has been produced since 1967.
This facility was purpose-built for the Boeing 747 and is, in response to the corporate, the biggest constructing on the planet by quantity. It’s since served as the principle manufacturing location for Boeing’s wide-body airliners, the 767, 777 and 787 (the best-selling narrow-body 737, nonetheless, is produced at Renton, one other location within the Seattle space).
Developments in the previous couple of years have been shifting the corporate’s industrial middle of gravity elsewhere.
Along with dropping the B747, Everett lately misplaced the 787 manufacturing line, after Boeing determined to consolidate manufacturing at its plant in Charleston, South Carolina.
Boeing continues to make the B767 at Everett, a comparatively outdated mannequin with restricted industrial views, in addition to the B777, which is at present seeing low manufacturing charges, in anticipation of its new model, the B777X. The latter, nonetheless, has suffered a number of delays and it’s at present going by a certification and improvement course of that’s proving to be a lot lengthier and complicated than anticipated.
Whereas Boeing hasn’t disclosed a lot publicly about what it intends to do with the amenities that housed the Boeing 747 ultimate meeting line, within the run as much as the ultimate jumbo supply reports have emerged that they could be used to work on saved B787 Dreamliners.
What’s extra, in response to these identical sources, Boeing may produce extra B737s in Everett. Manufacturing of this bestselling mannequin at present takes place at one other facility in Renton, additional south within the better Seattle space.
Regardless of the fanfare of January 31, there are nonetheless two extra Boeing 747 deliveries pending – they usually’re under no circumstances abnormal.
These are the 2 new US presidential planes, that are technically referred to as VC-25, even when they’re popularly known as “Air Power One” (a name signal that’s solely used when the US President is on board).
These two planes have already been constructed, having initially been destined for Russian airline Transaero, which went bankrupt in 2015. The 2 future Air Power Ones are at present present process an intensive program of modifications to organize them for presidential service.