How did the Boeing 747 change the world
The end of the giant aviators
Farewell to Sydney
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has retired the last Boeing 747 in his fleet. The last trip leads to the California Mojave Desert. Qantas was once the only airline in the world with a 747 fleet. A total of 30 Jumbos are currently still in use around the world, most of them as freighters.
Bye Bye Jumbo in London too
At the end of last week, British Airways announced that it would shut down its entire 747 fleet early and with immediate effect. "With the decline in travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unlikely that our 'queen of the skies' will ever again offer commercial services to British Airways," the airline said.
Crowds on the first flight
The first commercial flight of the Boeing 747 with PanAm was on January 21, 1970 from New York to London. Around 9,000 people had registered for the premiere, in the end only 360 could fly with them and only with obstacles. After one engine overheated, everyone had to transfer to a replacement machine, which then started almost seven hours late.
Glamor of the queen of the skies
Until the end of the 1960s, flying was something for the wealthy. Now, thanks to cheaper tickets, normal wage earners could also afford flights. Still, the 747 wasn't easy to fill. Since air prices were still set by the state at the time, the airlines lured people with luxury such as cocktail lounges with sofas and kidney-shaped tables in the rear. To date, the 747 has carried almost six billion people.
The oil crisis also slowed the Boeing 747
A few years after the glamorous start, the 1973 oil crisis stifled enthusiasm for the Jumbo. Many airlines have had to leave their 747s on the ground because it was simply too expensive to get in the air. Aircraft orders have been canceled. It was not until the mid-1970s that the jumbo jet became the dominant long-haul aircraft.
Long-haul icon revolutionized aviation
Over the past five decades, the 747 has helped transform global air travel. Airports were expanded into huge hubs, because the huge jumbo jet could transport many passengers over long distances at the same time, in order to be flown on to regional airports in smaller planes.
Assassinations, technical problems, human error
There were also tragic events in the jumbo jet era, such as the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 (picture) or the collision of two 747s on the runway of Tenerife Airport in 1977, in which more than 500 people were killed. Several Boeing 747s lost a complete engine in flight. As a result, a freight version fell on a house in Amsterdam.
747 hardly asked for in the end
The industry is now relying on smaller machines with two engines that use less fuel. According to industry circles, Boeing ordered the last parts for the 747 from its suppliers at least a year ago. With a construction rate of half an aircraft per month, the program still has more than two years ahead of it, according to a company spokesman.
The US President continues to fly 747
According to Bloomberg, the dozen or so aircraft ordered from Boeing are all freight versions of the 747, and in the passenger area no new jumbos have been ordered for years. The last order came from 2017, according to the Reuters news agency. The US government ordered two 747-8s as Air Force One for the president.
Airbus no longer produces either
In total, more than 1550 model 747 machines have been delivered in over 50 years. The European competitor Airbus gave up its prestige A380 project at the beginning of 2019. The production of the giant aircraft will only run until 2021, Airbus announced in February. In total, only around 250 aircraft of the A380 were sold.
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