After 50 years in the sky, the ubiquitous Boeing (BA) 747 has reached the end of its runway.
At the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington, the very last 747 is scheduled to leave its massive hangar destined for air cargo client Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings.
The plane, Boeing's 1,574th jumbo jet, will have its test flight tonight before being painted and delivered early next year.
“It’s kind of a sad occasion,” said Jon Sutter, the grandson of Boeing aircraft designer Joe Sutter, known as the father of the 747.
Boeing says the plant where 747s are assembled is the largest building (by volume) in the world. It was built originally for the start of 747 production back in 1967, with the jumbo jet’s first commercial flight coming in 1970. The massive 747 flew hundreds of passengers comfortably and efficiently across the globe — making long haul international travel more attainable to people around the world. Commercial versions of the 747 could easily transport over 400 passengers, with a range that could reach 8,000 nautical miles.
The current 747, known as the 747-8, was announced back in November, 2005, with the first cargo version delivered in August, 2011. The passenger versions of the 747 were retired from commercial fleets years ago, while the cargo version of the plane continues to fly.
With the 747 bowing out, Boeing's only other wide-body jets are the 787 Dreamliner and the 777, the world’s largest twin-jet plane. However, the next-gen version of the 777, dubbed the 777X, has been delayed multiple times, with Boeing now stating first deliveries will begin in 2025, following FAA certification. The 777X can hold 426 passengers, with a range of over 7,285 nautical miles.