The last 747 jumbo jet just rolled off the Boeing assembly line

New York
CNN Business

After 53 years and more than 1,570 planes, the Boeing 747 finally left the assembly line in Washington state on Tuesday night, en route to becoming a cargo plane.

The once ground-breaking jumbo jet, with its distinctive second-floor bulge, is perhaps the most popular and remarkable aircraft Boeing has ever built. It’s even big enough to carry the Space Shuttle from the landing site in California to the launch site in Florida. And it’s set to launch a new category Virgin Orbit’s spaceship as soon as next week, after carrying it high under its wings.

747 used to be the choice of the rich and glamorous, even royalty. Many films, including James Bond’s 1973 classic “Live and Let Die,” feature airplanes, or settings made to look like first-class lounges upstairs. The 747 still serves as Air Force One, as it did in 1990. Two pre-assembled planes are currently underway to transform into the next generation of presidential jets. Those planes won’t be delivered for at least four years due to delay.

The last Boeing 747 left the company's wide-body plant in Everett, Washington on Tuesday night.  It will be delivered to Atlas Air for use as a freighter early next year.

Beyond that use, the 747’s days as a passenger jet are now almost completely over. Airlines have shied away from fuel-hungry four-engine planes like the 747. Rival Airbus

Drop your own two-level jumbo jetthe A380, in 2019.

Boeing has signaled in 2020 that it will stop building the 747, even in freighter form, as customers buy more fuel-efficient 777 freighters or save money by refurbishing the planes. old 747 passenger transport into a transport plane. It has yet to announce plans for the plant in Everett, Washington, where it built the 747, but it is expected to stay open. To build the massive plane, the facility covers 200 million cubic feet, which Boeing says makes it the largest building in the world by volume.

Passenger versions of the plane can carry between 400 and 500 passengers, up to twice as many passengers as one of Boeing’s current wide-body jets, the 787-8 Dreamliner. But Boeing hasn’t built a passenger version of the 747 since delivering the last one to Korean Airlines in 2017. The final 747 will go to Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings.

, will operate the aircraft for Swiss logistics company Kuehne+Nagel. Tuesday’s final plane will be shipped to another Boeing facility for paint and other final details, before being delivered to Atlas early next year.

According to aeronautical analysis firm Cirium, today only 44 passenger versions of the 747 remain in service. More than half of them – 25 – flew by Lufthansa.

That total is down from the more than 130 that were in service as passenger planes at the end of 2019, just before the pandemic crippled demand for air travel, especially on mainly international routes. using 747s and other widebody aircraft. Most passenger versions of the jet were grounded in the early months of the pandemic and never returned to service.

But there are still 314 747 freighters in use, according to Cirium, many of which were originally used as passenger planes before being converted into freighters.

“The 747-8 is an amazingly capable aircraft, with a capacity that no other transport aircraft in production can match,” UPS said in 2020. when Boeing signaled that it would soon stop construction jet plane. “With a maximum payload capacity of 307,000 lbs., we use them on high-volume, long-haul routes connecting Asia, North America, Europe and the Middle East.”

The current version of the 747 is 250 feet and 2 inches long, making it the longest commercial aircraft currently in use, or twice the length of the Wright Brothers’ first flight. It has a wingspan of 224 feet and 5 inches.

Boeing delivered the first 747 passenger jet in December 1969 to two defunct airlines – TWA and Pan Am. Delta Airlines

was the last US airline to fly a passenger version of the plane, also in 2017. It was the last year of the last 747 US passenger flights – by both Delta and United.

— has attracted a large fanbase of the aircraft, a testament to its enduring popularity.

– Jackie Wattles of CNN contributed to this report

Correction: An earlier version of this article misrepresented Virgin using a 747 to launch rockets into space.


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