Boeing's 747, the original jumbo jet, prepares for final send-off

Boeing’s 747, the original jumbo jet, prepares for final send-off

  • Final 747 freighter to be delivered to Atlas Air
  • Ends greater than 5 many years of economic output
  • Nearly bankrupted Boeing, earlier than changing into a money cow
  • Easy to fly, says rock star-pilot Bruce Dickinson

SEATTLE/PARIS, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Boeing’s (BA.N) 747, the original and arguably most aesthetic “Jumbo Jet”, revolutionized air journey solely to see its greater than five-decade reign as “Queen of the Skies” ended by extra environment friendly twinjet planes.

The final business Boeing jumbo might be delivered to Atlas Air (AAWW.O) in the surviving freighter model on Tuesday, 53 years after the 747’s immediately recognizable humped silhouette grabbed world consideration as a Pan Am passenger jet.

“On the floor it is stately, it is imposing,” mentioned Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden who piloted a specifically liveried 747 nicknamed “Ed Force One” throughout the British heavy metallic band’s tour in 2016.

“And in the air it is surprisingly agile. For this huge airplane, you possibly can actually chuck it round if you need to.”

Designed in the late Nineteen Sixties to satisfy demand for mass journey, the world’s first twin-aisle extensive physique jetliner’s nostril and higher deck grew to become the world’s most luxurious membership above the clouds.

But it was in the seemingly countless rows at the again of the new jumbo that the 747 reworked journey.

“This was THE airplane that launched flying for the center class in the U.S.,” mentioned Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith.

“Prior to the 747 your common household could not fly from the U.S. to Europe affordably,” Smith instructed Reuters.

The jumbo additionally made its mark on world affairs, symbolising battle and peace, from America’s “Doomsday Plane” nuclear command submit to papal visits on chartered 747s nicknamed Shepherd One.

Now, two beforehand delivered 747s are being fitted to interchange U.S. presidential jets identified globally as Air Force One.

As a Pan Am flight attendant, Linda Freier served passengers starting from Michael Jackson to Mother Teresa.

“It was an unimaginable range of passengers. People who have been effectively dressed and individuals who had little or no and spent every little thing they’d on that ticket,” Freier mentioned.


When the first 747 took off from New York on Jan 22, 1970, after a delay because of an engine glitch, it greater than doubled aircraft capability to 350-400 seats, in flip reshaping airport design.

“It was the plane for the individuals, the one that basically delivered the functionality to be a mass market,” aviation historian Max Kingsley-Jones mentioned.

“It was transformational throughout all facets of the trade,” the senior marketing consultant at Ascend by Cirium added.

Its start turn into the stuff of aviation fable.

Pan Am founder Juan Trippe sought to chop prices by growing the variety of seats. On a fishing journey, he challenged Boeing President William Allen to make one thing dwarfing the 707.

Allen put legendary engineer Joe Sutter in cost. It took solely 28 months for Sutter’s staff often known as “the Incredibles” to develop the 747 earlier than the first flight on Feb. 9, 1969.

Although it will definitely grew to become a money cow, the 747’s preliminary years have been riddled with issues and the $1-billion improvement prices nearly bankrupted Boeing, which believed the way forward for air journey lay in supersonic jets.

After a droop throughout the Nineteen Seventies oil disaster, the aircraft’s heyday arrived in 1989 when Boeing launched the 747-400 with new engines and lighter supplies, making it an ideal match to satisfy rising demand for trans-Pacific flights.

“The 747 is the most lovely and simple aircraft to land … It’s identical to touchdown an armchair,” mentioned Dickinson, who additionally chairs aviation upkeep agency Caerdav.


The similar swell of innovation that obtained the 747 off the floor has spelled its finish, as advances made it potential for dual-engine jets to copy its vary and capability at decrease price.

Yet the 777X, set to take the 747’s place at the high of the jet market, is not going to be prepared till not less than 2025 after delays.

“In phrases of spectacular expertise, nice capability, nice economics … (the 777X) does sadly make the 747 look out of date,” AeroDynamic Advisory managing director Richard Aboulafia mentioned.

Nevertheless, the newest 747-8 model is ready to grace the skies for years, mainly as a freighter, having outlasted European Airbus’ (AIR.PA) double-decker A380 passenger jet in manufacturing.

This week’s final 747 supply leaves questions over the way forward for the mammoth however now under-used Everett widebody manufacturing plant exterior Seattle, whereas Boeing can also be struggling after the COVID pandemic and a 737 MAX security disaster.

Chief Executive Dave Calhoun has mentioned Boeing might not design a brand new airliner for not less than a decade.

“It was one in every of the wonders of the fashionable industrial age,” mentioned Aboulafia, “But this is not an age of wonders, it is an age of economics.”

Reporting by Valerie Insinna and Tim Hepher; Editing by Alexander Smith

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