An icon of the skies has reached the end of its production run.
The final Boeing 747 has left the airframer’s Everett facility, marking the end of an era for an aircraft programme that Boeing says has “truly changed the world”.
The aircraft, a -8 Freighter (MSN67150), will be delivered to cargo operator Atlas Air in early 2023.
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The Boeing 747 programme began production in 1967, with the first example making its debut in 1969. To date, Boeing has built more than 1,500 examples.
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The jumbo’s fate was sealed in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, as travel demand collapsed and airlines grounding their passenger aircraft. Airlines such as Qantas, Thai Airways International, KLM and British Airways quickly ditched their 747-400s as the pandemic wore on.
Still, the type enjoys success as a freighter, where cargo operators like Atlas Air still operate them in large numbers. Even then, some cargo carriers are moving to replace their ageing 747 fleets with a newer generation of twin-engined freighters.
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I wouldn't mind having a dollar for every mile I've flown aboard a 747. I'd be a rich man... More than any other aircraft, the 747 "democratized" air travel. It made it possible to reduce air fares to such an extent (through economy of scale) that the ordinary man and woman in the street could afford to fly to places they'd never previously have been able to afford to visit. Of course, that's also led to efforts to cram more and more people into the fuselage. That's given us the modern sardines-in-a-can experience of most flights, but at least one can still afford to fly - for now, anyway.