March 27, 2023
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Boeing’s 747, the original jumbo jet, prepares for final send-off

SEATTLE/PARIS — Boeing’s 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 industrial Boeing jumbo will likely be delivered to Atlas Air 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 ground it’s stately, it’s imposing,” mentioned Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden who piloted a specifically liveried 747 nicknamed “Ed Force One” throughout the British heavy steel band’s tour in 2016.

“And in the air it’s surprisingly agile. For this massive airplane, you can really chuck it around if you have to.”

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

But it surely was in the seemingly limitless rows at the again of the new jumbo that the 747 remodeled journey.

“This was THE airplane that introduced flying for the middle class in the US,” mentioned Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith.

“Prior to the 747 your average family couldn’t fly from the US to Europe affordably,” Mr. Smith instructed Reuters.

The jumbo additionally made its mark on world affairs, symbolizing conflict 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 US presidential jets identified globally as Air Power One.

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

“It was an incredible diversity of passengers. People who were well dressed and people who had very little and spent everything they had on that ticket,” Ms. Freier mentioned.


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

“It was the aircraft for the people, the one that really delivered the capability to be a mass market,” aviation historian Max Kingsley-Jones mentioned.

“It was transformational across all aspects of the industry,” the senior guide at Ascend by Cirium added.

Its delivery turn out to be 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 group generally known as “the Incredibles” to develop the 747 earlier than the first flight on Feb. 9, 1969.

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

After a hunch throughout the 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 fulfill rising demand for trans-Pacific flights.

“The 747 is the most beautiful and easy plane to land … It’s just like landing an armchair,” mentioned Mr. Dickinson, who additionally chairs aviation upkeep agency Caerdav.


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

But the 777X, set to take the 747’s place at the high of the jet market, won’t be prepared till a minimum of 2025 after delays.

“In terms of impressive technology, great capacity, great economics … (the 777X) does sadly make the 747 look obsolete,” AeroDynamic Advisory managing director Richard Aboulafia mentioned.

However, the newest 747-8 model is about to grace the skies for years, mainly as a freighter, having outlasted European Airbus’ 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 outdoors Seattle, whereas Boeing can be struggling after the coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and a 737 MAX security disaster.

Chief Government Dave Calhoun has mentioned Boeing could not design a brand new airliner for a minimum of a decade.

“It was one of the wonders of the modern industrial age,” mentioned Mr. Aboulafia, “But this isn’t an age of wonders, it’s an age of economics.” — Reuters

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