The last Boeing 747 ever built changed hands in front of thousands of people who wanted to say goodbye to the iconic wide-body aircraft. Customers, suppliers, celebrities, and current and former employees — including the original staff known as “The Phenomenals” who built the first 747 — gathered at the company’s Everett factory to witness the delivery of the plane from Boeing to Atlas Air Worldwide. The event marks the end of production for the aircraft since it was first built in 1967.
Boeing revealed back in 2020 that it would retire the model in a few years after it finished building the last orders for it. The 747 was one of the most famous four-engined wide-body aircraft in the world and revolutionized air travel by doubling passenger capacity and thereby reducing the cost per seat. At the height of its popularity in the 1990s, Boeing delivered 70 units a year. But like most older technologies, it eventually took a backseat to some of the company’s newer planes, especially its twin-engine planes, which can fly the same routes but can use fuel more efficiently.
Like Reuters notes that the company only delivered five 747s in 2022, even though the entire program alone produced 1,574 aircraft. Boeing’s last delivered aircraft, including this one, will be used for cargo transport in the coming years. Yes, we won’t see any more new 747s, but Bloomberg says orders delivered to use cargo ships could be around 2050.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said in a statement:
“This monumental day is a testament to the generations of Boeing employees who brought to life the airplane that ‘shrunk the world’ and revolutionized travel and air cargo as the first widebody.” It is fitting that we deliver this final 747-8 Freighter to the largest 747 operator, Atlas Air, where the ‘Queen’ will continue to inspire and enable innovation in air freight.
Kim Smith, Boeing’s vice president and general manager for the 747 and 767 programs, revealed that the model’s production line was shut down as workers finished building various parts for the final plane. Employees who worked at the factory have now been transferred to other programs or have voluntarily retired.
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