2019 will be the year that one of the world’s most iconic aircraft, the Boeing 747, finally ceases production.
For almost 50 years, the 747, known affectionately as the Queen of the Skies, has been gracing the heavens with it’s distinctive ‘hump’ shape, giving rise to the much-loved term ‘jumbo jet’.
Yet now, with the last US commercial 747s making their final journeys and Boeing expected to close the production line in late 2019, it looks like the end of the line for an aircraft that many of us have grown up admiring. Indeed, for some it has been the aeroplane that attracted us to aviation in the first place.
Although several airlines, including British Airways, Lufthansa, and Korean Air, plan to continue flying 747s well into the next decade, the number of them being spotted in 747s still flying for passenger airlines is likely to remain small with no new models being produced.
At JP Aero we enjoy the distinction of being around longer than the 747. Indeed, we can remember when it first came into commercial use.
Yet for anyone under the age of 50, it’s difficult to think of a more recognisable aircraft.
77 and Air Force One. It’s appeared in countless TV shows, and was synonymous with the 1980s glamour thanks its ubiquitous presence on the London – New York routes out of Heathrow.
Last week Delta Airlines flew its last Boeing 747 flight, out of Detroit Metropolitan Airport, on a special homecoming flight back to the factory where it was born.
It brings to an end almost 50 years of passenger based air service in the US.
Like many with a long and special connection to aerospace, we will be sad to see the jumbo jet disappear from our skies, but a new an exciting ear of bigger, greener and more efficient air travel is on the horizon.
It would be remis of us not to allow 2017 to draw to a close without a nod to one of the greatest pieces of human engineering ever conceived, and one that has given us enormous pleasure over the years too.
So while we look forward to the next few years and all of the incredible technological advancements in aerospace heading our way, we would also like to thank Boeing for bringing us the 747, a plane that will live long in the memory and an icon that will surely be hard to beat.
The history of the Boeing 747
The 747 began commercial operations in 1970. Conceived during the 1960s, the idea was to come up with a plane that could tackle one of the big problems facing commercial aviation at the time: airport congestion.
Whilst air travel was nowhere near as popular as it is today, the relatively small size of commercial aircraft, at the time, meant that airports across the US were becoming increasingly clogged up with smaller craft attempting to satisfy America’s burgeoning demand.
Passenger planes at the time were predominantly Boeing 707s and Douglas DC-8s. These were hugely popular planes that had transformed how people travel. They were just too small.
Recognising the problem, the challenge was set: design and build an aircraft with at least double the passenger capacity of the 707. The iconic ‘Jumbo Jet’ was born.
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