Greater than half a century because the authentic jumbo jet ushered in a glamorous new jet age, serving to bringing inexpensive air journey to tens of millions of passengers, the last-ever Boeing 747 was scheduled to be delivered on Tuesday, marking the beginning of the ultimate chapter for the much-loved airplane.
In a ceremony that shall be broadcast reside on-line at 4 p.m. Japanese Time, the plane shall be handed over at a ceremony at Boeing’s plant in Everett, Washington, to its new proprietor, US air cargo operator Atlas Air.
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 House Shuttle.
With the final passenger 747 having entered service greater than 5 years in the past, the tip 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 neighborhood. Expectant airplane fans 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 meeting line coated in anti-corrosive inexperienced paint. In early January, photographs appeared on-line of the plane, already sporting the Atlas Air livery.
One small vital 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 because the “father” of this well-known plane.
Curiously for a jet that predates the Apollo Moon landings (it hit the skies just a few months earlier, in February 1969), the Boeing 747’s manufacturing line has outlasted that of one among its most direct latest rivals, the Airbus A380, which was produced between 2003 and 2021.
It was the introduction of the European double-decker aircraft within the early 2000s which 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 known as, proved to be a swan track for big four-engined airliners.
Though the A380 is presently 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 with aviation analytics agency Cirium. That complete 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 through the early months of the pandemic and by no means returned to service.
Lufthansa stays the most important 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, probably many years to return.
Better of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet: In photos
The 747 has confirmed extra standard amongst cargo operators. There are nonetheless 314 747 freighters in use, in accordance with 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 accordance with the corporate, the most important constructing on this planet by quantity. It’s since served as the primary 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 heart of gravity elsewhere.
Along with dropping 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 previous mannequin with restricted industrial views, in addition to the B777, which is presently seeing low manufacturing charges, in anticipation of its new model, the B777X. The latter, nonetheless, has suffered a number of delays and it’s presently going by way of 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 services that housed the Boeing 747 last meeting line, within the run as much as the ultimate jumbo supply reviews have emerged that they could be used to work on saved B787 Dreamliners.
What’s extra, in accordance with these similar sources, Boeing can also produce extra B737s in Everett. Manufacturing of this bestselling mannequin presently takes place at one other facility in Renton, additional south within the Better Seattle space.
Regardless of the fanfare of January 31, there’s nonetheless two extra Boeing 747 deliveries pending – and so they’re under no circumstances an unusual.
These are the 2 new US presidential planes, that are technically referred to as VC-25, even when they’re popularly known as “Air Drive 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 Drive Ones are presently present process an in depth program of modifications to organize them for presidential service.
This picture from December 2022 exhibits the final ever Boeing 747 after its manufacturing unit rollout (Courtesy Boeing).