Boeing delivers its last 747

Boeing delivers its last 747

First modification:

Boeing delivered the last example of its legendary 747 on Tuesday, the plane that democratized air travel, carried US presidents and has always been distinguished by its hump on the front of the fuselage.

Thousands of current and former employees, customers and suppliers of the aircraft manufacturer are expected to attend the delivery of the plane, a 747-8 freighter, to Atlas Air at the Everett plant in the northwestern United States at 2100 GMT. .

Boeing turns an important page in civil aviation by stopping manufacturing the plane more than fifty years after its first flight and the construction of 1,574 examples.

Thanks to its size, range and efficiency, the 747 “allowed the middle class to venture outside of Europe or the United States with increasingly affordable ticket prices, even during the oil crisis of the 1970s,” said Michel Merluzeau, an expert in aviation company AIR.

“It opened up the world,” he stressed, before being surpassed by more efficient, kerosene-saving planes.

Four engines, two decks

The story of the 747 began in the 1960s, when air travel became popular and airports had to deal with an influx of traffic. At Pan Am’s urging, Boeing decided to build an airplane that could carry many more passengers.

Its engineers initially envisioned two overlapping fuselages, but were concerned about the taller passengers in the event of an evacuation.

“Instead of making the plane taller, they’re going to make it longer,” explained Boeing historian Michael Lombardi.

Thus the 747, also called the “queen of the skies” or “jumbo”, would become the first plane with two aisles.

The aircraft, equipped with four engines, was also designed from the beginning to carry cargo: to facilitate the loading of large cargo, it opens at the front.

For this reason, the cabin was installed higher, with some seats reserved for the privileged behind, creating that characteristic hump.

The 747 remained the largest airliner on the market until the arrival of the Airbus A380 in the 2000s.

Air Force One in preparation

“Although the 747 has been redesigned three or four times, the technological evolution has been quite limited in terms of electronics and engines,” Merluzeau said.

Of the last adaptation, the 747-8 launched in 2005, Boeing only sold 48 passenger and 107 cargo versions.

Companies like Qantas and British Airways are phasing out these planes from their fleets, while in the United States, no company has flown it since late 2017.

Boeing announced in the summer of 2020 that it would stop its production in 2022, although it will continue to fly for a few decades, especially in its cargo version.

The 747 has been the aircraft of US presidents since 1990 and will continue to fly with the White House for several years to come as two examples are being modified to replace Air Force One currently in service.

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Written by Editor TLN

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