Boeing’s 747, the unique jumbo jet, prepares for last send-off

  • Ultimate 747 freighter to be delivered to Atlas Air
  • Ends greater than 5 a long time of business output
  • Almost bankrupted Boeing, earlier than turning into a money cow
  • Simple to fly, says rock star-pilot Bruce Dickinson

SEATTLE/PARIS, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Boeing’s (BA.N) 747, the unique 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 industrial Boeing jumbo will likely be delivered to Atlas Air (AAWW.O) within 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 bottom it is stately, it is imposing,” mentioned Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden who piloted a specifically liveried 747 nicknamed “Ed Drive One” throughout the British heavy metallic band’s tour in 2016.

“And within the air it is surprisingly agile. For this huge airplane, you may actually chuck it round if you must.”

Designed within the late Nineteen Sixties to fulfill 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.

Nevertheless it was within the seemingly limitless rows in the back of the brand new jumbo that the 747 remodeled journey.

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

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

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

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

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

“It was an unbelievable variety of passengers. Individuals who have been nicely dressed and individuals who had little or no and spent all the pieces that they had on that ticket,” Freier mentioned.


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

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

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

Its beginning develop into the stuff of aviation delusion.

Pan Am founder Juan Trippe sought to chop prices by rising 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 crew referred to as “the Incredibles” to develop the 747 earlier than the primary flight on Feb. 9, 1969.

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

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

“The 747 is probably the most stunning and straightforward airplane to land … It is identical to touchdown an armchair,” mentioned Dickinson, who additionally chairs aviation upkeep agency Caerdav.


The identical swell of innovation that acquired the 747 off the bottom has spelled its finish, as advances made it potential for dual-engine jets to copy its vary and capability at decrease value.

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

“When it comes to spectacular know-how, nice capability, nice economics … (the 777X) does sadly make the 747 look out of date,” AeroDynamic Advisory managing director Richard Aboulafia mentioned.

Nonetheless, 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 last 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 Government Dave Calhoun has mentioned Boeing might not design a brand new airliner for not less than a decade.

“It was one of many wonders of the trendy industrial age,” mentioned Aboulafia, “However this is not an age of wonders, it is an age of economics.”

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

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.

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