Last jumbo – the last Boeing 747 leaves the gate

After 50 years of production, the last Boeing 747, perhaps the world’s most iconic aircraft, rolled out of Boeing’s massive factory in Everett, Washington, on Tuesday night.

The final customer is cargo carrier Atlas Air, which ordered four 747-8 freighters early this year.

The 747 jumbo jet has taken on a wide variety of roles during its lifetime. It’s a cargo aircraft, a commercial aircraft, and even the Air Force One presidential aircraft. But most of all, it is simply the jumbo jet.

When it was first produced in 1969 it was the largest commercial aircraft in the world and the first with two aisles. It still towers over most conventional aircraft.

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The aircraft design included a second deck extending from the cockpit back out over the front third of the aircraft, giving it the distinctive hump that made it instantly recognisable.

It took more than 50,000 Boeing employees 16 months to make the first 747. The company has completed 1,573 more since then.

But over the past 20 years, Boeing and its European rival Airbus have turned to more efficient and profitable aircraft – widebodies with two engines instead of the 747’s four.

Delta was the last US airline to use the 747 for passenger flights – ending in 2017 – although some international carriers continue to fly it, including German airline Lufthansa.

Boeing announced in May that it would move its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, Virginia. The move to the Washington DC area puts its executives closer to key federal government officials and the Federal Aviation Administration, which certifies Boeing passenger and cargo aircraft.

Boeing’s relationship with the FAA has been strained since the deadly crashes of its bestselling aircraft, the 737 Max, in 2018 and 2019. The FAA took nearly two years to approve design changes and allow the aircraft back in the air.


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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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