Boeing has announced it will end production of the 747 in 2022 after an incredible 50-year run for the beloved superjumbo.
The 747, nicknamed the “Queen of the Skies”, won over generations of fans but in recent years has struggled to compete with leaner, more energy-efficient aircraft.
The last 747 will roll off the production line in 2022, with the US President’s Air Force One expected to be one of the last deliveries.
Until then, Boeing will continue to produce 747s at a rate of one every two months.
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Boeing will end production of the 747 – dubbed the ‘Queen of the Skies’ – in two years. Picture: Daniel Slim/AFPSource:AFP
Qantas’ last 747 leaves Sydney for California on July 22. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty ImageSource:Getty Images
The announcement comes as Boeing reels from one of its most difficult periods, following a plunge in aircraft demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic and controversy over its 737 Max aircraft.
The company reported a larger-than-expected $US2.4 billion loss in the quarter ending June 30 and has flagged even more job cuts after announcing it would shed 12,000 jobs in May.
Analysts have said the pandemic has hastened the demise of the iconic 747 by forcing airlines to re-evaluate their fleets as they face years before a return to pre-COVID traffic levels, The Guardian reported.
Many airlines have already retired their 747 fleets, including British Airways, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic and Qantas, which gave its last surviving 747 a momentous send-off this month.
In-production 747s for Cathay Pacific Cargo sit on the tarmac at the Boeing production facilities at Paine Field in Everett, Washington in 2012. Picture: Saul Loeb/AFPSource:AFP
The Boeing 747 made its maiden flight with Pan Am in 1969.Source:News Corp Australia
The four-engine, double-decker 747, which had its maiden flight in 1969, is credited with revolutionising leisure travel as its size and range made air travel more affordable.
Its first customer was Pan American World Airlines and other airlines quickly followed suit.
Qantas debuted the 747 in 1971 and it proved a workhorse of the airline’s international network, flying to key ports such as Singapore, London, Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Bangkok.
The 747 remained the world’s largest commercial aircraft until it was replaced by the Airbus A380 super jumbo in 2007, which is also soon to be axed, and has since been phased out in favour of the lighter and more efficient 787 Dreamliner.
Qantas air hostess Jenny Colley in the ‘Captain Cook’ lounge of a Boeing 747 at Adelaide Airport in November 1971.Source:News Corp Australia
An Air France 747 famously flew Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini back from exile in France to Tehran in 1979. Picture: Gabriel Duval/AFPSource:AFP
The current version of the aircraft is the 747-8, launched in 2005, which has a range of about 8000 nautical miles, or 14,815km.
The aircraft has played a key role in Australia’s aviation history and was used in a number of rescue missions, including flying 674 passengers out of Darwin in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy, and more recently to bring home hundreds of Australians stranded in the COVID-19 epicentre of Wuhan earlier this year.
This is pretty cool: the last Qantas 747 flight has just drawn the airline's kangaroo logo in the sky on its departure from Australia. #QF7474 pic.twitter.com/rZKMPGq11n
Qantas bid farewell to its final 747 last week, which was given an emotional send-off from Sydney as it took off to California, where it would be parked and stripped for parts in an aeroplane graveyard in the Mojave Desert.
Greg Fitzgerald, who was the co-pilot for the flight, said it marked the end of a significant chapter in Australia’s aviation history.
“Everybody in Australia, everybody in the world knows the shape of the 747,” he told ABC Breakfast.
“It’s like Aeroplane Jelly and Vegemite – it’s always been there. We don’t know life without the 747.”
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