QANTAS Airways (Sydney) has saved historic Boeing 747-438 VH-OJA (msn 24354) from a Victorville scraping. Instead, the first QANTAS Jumbo will be preserved with the Historical Aviation Restoration Society (HARS) at Illawarra Regional Airport at Albion Park, south of Wollongong.
The airline issued this statement:
In a coup for New South Wales tourism, QANTAS will donate its first Boeing 747-400, known as City of Canberra, to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) in March.
It will be the first 747-400 in the world to be preserved for public display and the biggest aircraft by far to be on show at the HARS facility at Illawarra Regional Airport, Shellharbour.
HARS is home to the largest collection of both flying and static heritage aircraft in Australia and run by more than 450 volunteers, including dozens of retired QANTAS employees, who dedicate their time to the maintenance and restoration of some of aviation’s most iconic aircraft.
The newly retired 747 represents a key part of both Australian aviation and QANTAS history after it blazed its way in to the record books in 1989 for the longest nonstop commercial flight from London to Sydney in 20 hours, 9 minutes and 5 seconds. The record still stands.
Ironically, QANTAS will deliver the aircraft, registration VH-OJA, in early March on what will be the airline’s, and perhaps the world’s, shortest ever delivery flight with an expected flying time of approximately ten minutes from Mascot in Sydney to Illawarra.
The delivery flight from Sydney International Airport to Illawarra Regional Airport will be the first time a Boeing 747 has landed at the regional port. The QANTAS pilots operating the final flight will undergo special simulator training to prepare for the delivery and the airline is working with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to finalize approvals for the special landing.
Over the past few years, QANTAS has been gradually retiring its older Boeing 747s. Nine of its newest jumbos, the last of which was delivered in 2003, have been refurbished and will continue flying into the future. Since 2008, the QANTAS Group has taken delivery of almost 150 new aircraft, lowering its fleet age to an average of just over seven years.
The aircraft will join an impressive lineup of famed aircraft now located at HARS including a Lockheed Super Constellation, Catalina, Douglas DC-3 and DC-4 and a Desert Storm US Army Cobra.
The official handover will take place on March 15, 2015 to coincide with HARS monthly open days.
QANTAS Boeing 747-400 VH-OJA facts:
· 25.3 years in service
· 13,833 flights
· 4,094,568 passengers carried
· This aircraft has flown nearly 85 million kilometers, which is equivalent to 110.2 return trips to the moon
· VH-OJA was QANTAS’ first Boeing 747-400 aircraft and was named the City of Canberra
· It was delivered to QANTAS on August 11, 1989 and made its debut flight on August 16, 1989 from London to Sydney
· On Thursday August 17, 1989, it set the record for having flown the longest nonstop flight (London-Sydney) of any commercial airline (flight number QF 7441)
· The flight and subsequent media attention around the world at the time underlined QANTAS’ role as the leader in long-range commercial aviation.
· All of QANTAS’ Boeing 747-400 aircraft were named ‘Longreach’ as a tribute to our place of origin and to demonstrate the long-range of the aircraft.
In other news, QANTAS together with Samsung Electronics Australia has launched a new trial entertainment service that uses Samsung virtual reality (VR) technology to give customers a spectacular three dimensional experience in a 360 degree style interactive format.
QANTAS’ VR headsets will transport customers to an immersive virtual world at the click of a button and showcase the sights and delights of network destinations, new QANTAS products and the latest inflight blockbuster movies.
As part of the trial, a number of Samsung Gear VR headsets will be made available to customers in Sydney and Melbourne International First Lounges as well as in the First Class cabins on select A380 services. QANTAS will be the only airline to offer a virtual reality entertainment experience inflight.
The trial will run for three months to assess customer feedback on how this kind of VR offering might add to their overall travel experience on long-haul flights.
Top Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum/AirlinersGallery.com. VH-OJA (msn 24354) was a frequent visitor to Los Angeles before the Airbus A380s.
QANTAS aircraft slide show: