Es is the end of an era: Boeing delivered the last example of its model 747 on Tuesday. The aircraft manufacturer handed over the jet to Atlas Air, an American cargo airline, in a ceremony at its plant near Seattle. Boeing has produced the 747 for more than half a century. It thus had a longer career than its most direct rival in recent history, the Airbus A380, which was manufactured from 2003 to 2021.
The 747 is arguably the most famous aircraft Boeing has ever released. Her unmistakable trademark is the hump in the front part, which acts as the upper deck. She was called “Queen of the Skies” or just “Jumbo”. It began operations in 1970 with the now defunct Pan Am airline, the first flight going from New York to London. Its developers went down in Boeing history as “Incredibles” because they managed to get the giant aircraft ready for the market in a very short time.
The four-engine 747 revolutionized air travel in many ways. It was the first two-speed aircraft, and it gave airlines a cost-effective way to transport large numbers of passengers over long distances. But the jumbo is past its prime. Airlines are now turning to smaller, more efficient twin-engine jets that can fly farther than they used to.
“We love this plane”
The 747 was used more and more as a freighter and hardly ever used by passenger airlines. However, it is still in use and is flown by Lufthansa, for example. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr even appeared at the event on Tuesday. “We love this plane,” he said of the jumbo. Lufthansa wants to fly it “well into the next decade”.
In July 2020, Boeing announced it would end production of the 747. To date, the group has produced a total of 1,574 copies. However, she still has two machines of the type for a particularly prominent customer to deliver: Boeing is still working on the two 747 jets that are to be used by the American President under the name “Air Force One”. They are manufactured, but still have to be converted according to the special requirements of their customer. This project has been significantly delayed, the first of the two machines is currently scheduled for delivery in 2026.