More than half a century since the unique jumbo jet ushered in a glamorous new jet age, serving to bringing inexpensive air journey to thousands and thousands of passengers, the last-ever Boeing 747 was scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday, marking the begin of the remaining chapter for the much-loved airplane.
In a ceremony that shall be broadcast live online at 4 p.m. Eastern Time, the plane shall be handed over at Boeing’s plant in Everett, Washington, to its new proprietor, US air cargo operator Atlas Air.
While the remaining 747 received’t be carrying paying passengers, its delivery 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 Space Shuttle.
With the last passenger 747 having entered service greater than 5 years in the past, the finish of the 747’s enduring profession now strikes even nearer, hastened by airways switching their preferences to smaller and extra economical plane.
Tuesday’s delivery is a second lengthy anticipated by the international aviation group. Expectant airplane lovers have adopted each step of the remaining 747’s development, 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, pictures appeared on-line of the plane, already sporting the Atlas Air livery.
One small important element didn’t go unnoticed: 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 as the “father” of this well-known plane.
Interestingly 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 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 aircraft in the early 2000s which prompted Boeing to announce, in 2005, one last 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 last variant of the venerable jumbo jet is known as, proved to be a swan track for giant four-engined airliners.
Even although the A380 is at the moment having fun with a revival, with airways dashing to carry saved airframes again to service in response to the post-Covid air visitors restoration, these giants of the skies battle to compete with the operational flexibility and gas economies of smaller twin-engined jets.
As of December 2022, there are solely 44 passenger variations of the 747 nonetheless in service, in accordance to aviation analytics agency Cirium. That complete is down from greater than 130 in service as passenger jets at 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 throughout the early months of the pandemic and by no means returned to service.
Lufthansa stays the largest operator of the passenger model of the B747-8, with 19 in its present fleet and potential commitments to hold the jumbo flying passengers for years, probably a long time to come.
Best of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet: In footage
The 747 has confirmed extra widespread amongst cargo operators. There are nonetheless 314 747 freighters in use, in accordance to Cirium, many of which have been initially used as passenger jets earlier than being renovated into freighters.
Features equivalent to the distinctive nose-loading functionality, and the cockpit’s elevated place, leaving the complete size of the decrease fuselage out there to carry large-volume gadgets, have made it a cargo favourite.
Tuesday’s delivery additionally brings questions on what is going to occur to Boeing’s huge Everett manufacturing unit, wherein the 747 has been produced since 1967.
This facility was purpose-built for the Boeing 747 and is, in accordance to the firm, the largest constructing in the world by quantity. It’s since served as the most important 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 in the Seattle space).
Developments in the last few years have been shifting the firm’s industrial heart of gravity elsewhere.
In addition to shedding the B747, Everett not too long ago 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 the moment 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 the moment going by a certification and improvement course of that’s proving to be a lot lengthier and complicated than anticipated.
While Boeing hasn’t disclosed a lot publicly about what it intends to do with the services that housed the Boeing 747 remaining meeting line, in the run up to the remaining jumbo delivery reports have emerged that they might be used to work on saved B787 Dreamliners.
What’s extra, in accordance to these similar sources, Boeing might also produce extra B737s in Everett. Production of this bestselling mannequin at the moment takes place at one other facility in Renton, additional south in the Greater Seattle space.
Despite the fanfare of January 31, there’s nonetheless two extra Boeing 747 deliveries pending – they usually’re certainly not an peculiar.
These are the two new US presidential planes, that are technically referred to as VC-25, even when they’re popularly referred to as “Air Force 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 two future Air Force Ones are at the moment present process an in depth program of modifications to put together them for presidential service.