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The last 747 leaves its Boeing manufacturing home

An emotional event marks the final delivery of the iconic double-decker airplane that changed commercial aviation.


 

• 747 "50 Years of Flight"

The historic 747, dubbed the ‘Queen of the Skies,’ revolutionized air travel as the world’s first twin-aisle airplane and enabled more people to fly farther, faster and more affordably than ever before. Marked by its distinctively recognizable hump, this iconic airplane is a symbol of great engineering, innovation and often noted as an outstanding work of architecture.

Since production began in 1967, and the first 747-100 completed is first test flight in 1969, more than 100 customers have purchased 1,574 aircraft, logging more than 118 million flight hours and nearly 23 million flight cycles.

 

• Watch the "Final 747 Production"

The final airplane, a 747-8 Freighter, was the 1,574th manufactured, capping a production run that spanned more than five-and-a-half decades. It outlasted any number of airplane programs that came and went during that span – at Boeing and its competitors.



 

• Watch the "Final 747 Celebration Event"

Faces beamed with pride, camera shutters clicked and tears flowed as about 10,000 people – mostly current and former employees – celebrated the delivery of the final 747 in Everett, Washington, Tuesday 31 Jan 2023.



Many of those in the audience – and even some of their parents – had not yet been born when the first 747 emerged from a still-under-construction factory at the company’s sprawling new campus north of Seattle on Sept. 30, 1968.


But they were at that same place Tuesday – and joined by customer and supplier representatives, government officials and a global online audience – to pay tribute to the last of its kind, a four-engined behemoth with the distinctive hump that changed the commercial aviation industry forever. A large contingent of media was also on hand to document the event for their audiences around the world.


The hour-plus event featured remarks by past and present Boeing leaders and customer representatives.


Renowned entertainer (and pilot) John Travolta, who provided narration to many of the videos at the event, even made a surprise appearance.

Participants were emotional as they took photos near the airplane and at a special selfie station.

“It’s really cool to think about how many families and generations have worked on this airplane. It’s making me emotional,” said Nathalie Moyano, who works in Digital Transformation.

“When I first had my internship at Boeing, I came to the factory on a tour above the plane," she continued. "It was the most incredible thing to just see the wings – standing above them – and realizing that thing flies. It’s amazing we build these products.”



Atlas Air, the world’s largest operator of the airplane known far and wide as the “Queen of the Skies,” took the delivery of the final airplane, bringing its current 747 fleet to 56. Over several decades, Atlas has flown well over 100 747 freighters or passenger aircraft of nearly every fleet type.

“Our company’s history and success are directly linked to the 747 platform, and we are honored to continue our long history of flying this iconic aircraft for our customers around the world,” said John Dietrich, Atlas Air Worldwide president and CEO.





The program employed tens of thousands of people during its production run, and those on the program at the end are being integrated into other programs.

As the final 747 departs Boeing, it joins hundreds of its kind in the in-service fleet, which will be delivering people and goods around the world for decades.

“We turn a page today, but we don’t close the book," said Stan Deal, Commercial Airplanes president & CEO. “While it is bittersweet to see 747 production ending, Boeing teammates will be supporting our customers operating these highly capable airplanes for many years to come."

Because of limited capacity, the event was not open to the public, but was livestreamed and is available for replay.


 

• Watch the "Final 747 Departs Boeing"



The 747's impact: When it debuted all those years ago, the 747 introduced a number of technological and aviation firsts, the greatest being the invention of the twin-aisle, widebody design.

Atlas Air revealed its flight plan for the final 747's delivery flight.

Beyond size, comfort and efficiency, the 747’s design was based in safety, under the command of chief designer Joe Sutter. That included reinventing pilot training, moving away from strictly procedural training to behavioral training.

It did not take long for the 747 to have a giant effect on air travel. Its size, world-spanning range, capacity and economy had the greatest impact, making it possible for all of humanity to fly.

The 747’s entry into service will forever mark the point in history when any person on Earth could fly anywhere else on the planet.

Its final delivery will mark simply another milestone for an airplane that changed the world.

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