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Boeing Delivers The Last 747 Jumbo Jet As It Bids Farewell

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Boeing Delivers The Last 747 Jumbo Jet As It Bids Farewell

(CTN NEWS) – SEATTLE –  On Tuesday, Boeing said goodbye to a legend by delivering its final 747 jumbo airplane in front of thousands of workers who had contributed to the jets’ construction over the previous 55 years.

Since its initial flight in 1969, the enormous yet elegant 747 has been used as a freight plane, a commercial aircraft with a seating capacity of close to 500 people, a transport for NASA’s space shuttles, and the presidential aircraft Air Force One.

It changed transportation, opening up previously unconnected international locations to direct flights, and contributed to the democratization of passenger aviation.

The 747 has four engines, but during the past 15 years, Boeing and its European rival Airbus have launched more lucrative and fuel-efficient wide-body aircraft.

Boeing delivers the last 747 jum

The final Boeing 747 sits on the tarmac outside of the factory at a ceremony for delivery, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, in Everett, Wash.  (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

The last aircraft was produced by Boeing in Washington’s Puget Sound region, making it the 1,574th overall.

Tuesday’s ceremony to celebrate the delivery of the final 747 to cargo carrier Atlas Air was attended by thousands of employees, executives from Boeing and other organizations worldwide, and actor and pilot John Travolta.

Richard Aboulafia, a veteran aviation analyst, said, “If you love this company, you’ve been dreading this moment.” “Nobody wants a four-engine airliner anymore. 737

But that doesn’t take away from the remarkable legacy or the enormous contribution the aircraft made to the industry’s growth.”

After losing out on the opportunity to build the C-5A, a sizable military transport, Boeing decided to build the 747.

Boeing delivers the last 747 jum 2

A Boeing 747 takes off from Seattle in January 1970. Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, when it delivers the jumbo jet to cargo carrier Atlas Air. (AP Photo, File)

The plan was to utilize the high-bypass turbofan engines created for the transport, which burned less fuel by passing air around the engine core and allowed for a longer flight range for a newly envisioned civilian aircraft.

The first 747 was produced by more than 50,000 Boeing employees in less than 16 months, a Herculean effort that earned them the moniker “The Incredibles.”

The world’s largest building by volume, a massive factory, had to be built in Everett, north of Seattle, to produce the jumbo jet. When the first planes were finished, the factory was still under construction.

Desi Evans, 92, who began working for Boeing in 1957 at its Renton, Washington, factory and spent 38 years there before retiring, was present.

His boss informed him that he would join the 747 programs in Everett the following morning, one day in 1967.

Boeing delivers the last 747 jum 1

Desi Evans, 92, laughs as he talks about working on the first 747 over 50 years ago before a ceremony for the delivery of the final Boeing 747 jumbo jet, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, in Everett, Wash.(AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Evans recounted that they advised me to wear rubber boots, a hard hat, and warm clothing because the area was covered with muck. “And they were preparing for the factory’s construction.”

He was responsible for supervising workers who worked on sealing and painting the aircraft after first installing the passenger cabin’s interior.

As he stood in front of the final aircraft parked outside the factory, he remarked, “When the very first 747 rolled out, it was a fantastic occasion.

You had a great feeling like you were making history. Even though this is the final one, the thing you’re a part of is still substantial.”

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A Pan Am Boeing 747 sits at Heathrow Airport, London, after its maiden commercial trans Atlantic flight from New York, on Jan. 22, 1970. Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, (AP Photo/Lawrence Harris, File)

The plane’s tail was as tall as a six-story skyscraper, and its fuselage measured 225 feet (68.5 meters).

The design of the aircraft incorporated a second deck that reached back over the first third of the aircraft from the cockpit, giving it a characteristic hump and earning it the moniker the Whale.

The 747 earned the more sentimental moniker “Queen of the Skies.”

Even the lower deck occasionally had lounges or a piano bar, as some airlines converted it into a first-class cocktail lounge.

A defunct 747 that was initially constructed in 1976 for Singapore Airlines has been transformed into a 33-room hotel close to the airport in Stockholm.

Boeing delivers the last 747 jum 4

Actor and pilot John Travolta speaks during a ceremony for the delivery of the final Boeing 747 jumbo jet, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, in Everett, Wash. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

According to Guillaume de Syon, a history professor at Pennsylvania’s Albright College who specializes in aviation and mobility,

“It was the first major carrier, the first widebody, so it created a new benchmark for airlines to figure out what to do with it, and how to fill it.”

It became the fundamental principle of mass air travel: To fill a plane with passengers who are willing to pay full price, prices must be reduced. The deregulation of air travel in the late 1970s was influenced by it.

According to Aboulafia, the timing of the introduction of the first 747 on Pan Am’s New York-London route in 1970 was horrible.

It debuted during a recession that saw Boeing’s employment drop from 100,800 employees in 1967 to a low of 38,690 jobs in April 1971, just before the 1973 oil crisis.

FILE - The crew of a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet pose in front of the nose of the plane at London's Heathrow Airport in England on Jan. 12, 1970. The 360 seat jet was the first of its kind to complete a transatlantic crossing. Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, when it delivers the jumbo jet to cargo carrier Atlas Air. Since it debuted in 1969, the 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, and the Air Force One presidential aircraft, but it has been rendered obsolete by more profitable and fuel-efficient models. (AP Photo, File)

(AP Photo, File)

The infamous “Boeing bust” was commemorated by a billboard that read, “Will the last person departing SEATTLE — Turn out the lights,” located close to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The 747-400 series, an improved model that debuted in the late 1980s, was far better timed to coincide with the early 1990s Asian economic growth, according to Aboulafia.

In 1991, he traveled as a 20-something backpacker from Los Angeles to Hong Kong on a Cathay Pacific 747.

Even people like me may travel to Asia, claimed Aboulafia. “In the past, stopping for petrol in Alaska or Hawaii meant paying much more. This was an inexpensive and straightforward photo.”

Although some other foreign airlines, such as the German airline Lufthansa, still operate the 747, Delta was the final American airline to use it for passenger flights, which terminated in 2017.

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Military personnel watch as Air Force One, with President Donald Trump aboard, prepares to depart at Andrews Air Force Base in Md., on Feb. 17, 2017. Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 202.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa, recalls flying in a 747 when he was a young exchange student and said there was only one way to go from Frankfurt to San Francisco for Tuesday’s event: first-class in the nose of a Lufthansa 747.

He assured the gathering that Lufthansa would continue operating the 747 for a long time.

He remarked, “We just adore the airplane.”

Early last year, Atlas Air placed an order for four 747-8 freighters, and the last one—decorated with a picture of Joe Sutter, the engineer who headed the initial design team for the 747—was delivered on Tuesday.

The 747 is the best air freighter, according to Atlas CEO John Dietrich, partly because it can load through the nose cone.


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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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