Tag Archives: Boeing 747-400

Air India bucks the trend, will retain its Boeing 747-400s for now


Air India is not following the lead of other airlines regarding the future of the Boeing 747-400.

Although parked for the most of the time, Air India has four Boeing 747-400s (VT-ESO, VT-ESP, VT-EVA and VT-ESB) still remaining in its fleet.

According to BusinessToday.In and the Minister of Civil Aviation of India, Air India has no plans for the final phase out of its remaining Boeing 747-400s.

The average age is 26 years. Three of the four are currently undergoing maintenance according to the Minister.

Top Copyright Photo: Air India Boeing 747-4H6 VT-AIS (msn 25703) FRA (Ton Jochems). Image: 954587.

Air India aircraft slide show:


Air India will continue to operate its Boeing 747-400s (for now)

1 still flying (VT-EVA) in June 2020

Air India has gone to social media to correct reports it was planning to operate the last Boeing 747 revenue flight today (March 10):

The airline has four remaining Boeing 747-400s but most are parked. When operated, the Jumbo is mainly operated on domestic high-density trunk routes.

Top Copyright Photo: Air India Boeing 747-437 VT-ESN (msn 27164) LHR (SPA). Image: 936945.

Air India aircraft slide show:


British Airways decides to retire its grounded Boeing 747-400 fleet

British Airways has told the BBC it has reached the conclusion that airline traffic will take years to recover and that its grounded Boeing 747-400 fleet will be retired immediately. The 747-400s will not return to service.

“It is with great sadness that we can confirm we are proposing to retire our entire 747 fleet with immediate effect,” a BA spokesman told the BBC.

The “Legacy Fleet”:

Read the full article.

For the record, the last regularly scheduled revenue flight was operated with G-CIVO on May 11, 2020 as flight BA9116 between Lagos and London (Heathrow).

British Airways issued this statement on July 17, 2020:

Today, Friday, July 17, 2020) British Airways announced, with great sadness, that its fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft, fondly known as ‘The Queen of the Skies’, are likely to have flown their last scheduled commercial service.

After nearly five decades of service and millions of miles flown around the globe, it is proposed that the airline’s remaining fleet of 31 747-400 aircraft will be retired with immediate effect as a result of the devasting impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the airline and the aviation sector, which is not predicted to recover to 2019 levels until 2023/24.

Just a year ago, British Airways lovingly re-painted four of its jumbo jets in heritage colors to mark the company’s centenary. The BOAC jet put in a guest appearance with the Red Arrows much to the delight of spectators at the Royal International Air Tattoo, and sadly the aircraft will shortly be heading towards its final resting place alongside 30 others.

The fuel-hungry aircraft were slowly being phased out by British Airways as they reached the end of their working life in order to help meet the company’s commitment to net zero by 2050. The airline has invested heavily in new, modern long-haul aircraft including six A350s and 32 787s which are around 25 per cent more fuel-efficient than the 747. As part of the airline’s £6.5 billion injection into customer experience in recent years, existing aircraft have been refurbished and the brand new arrivals have come into the British Airways’ fleet complete with a luxurious business class Club Suite product.

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “This is not how we wanted or expected to have to say goodbye to our incredible fleet of 747 aircraft. It is a heart-breaking decision to have to make. So many people, including many thousands of our colleagues past and present, have spent countless hours on and with these wonderful planes – they have been at the centre of so many memories, including my very first long-haul flight. They will always hold a special place in our hearts at British Airways.

“We have committed to making our fleet more environmentally friendly as we look to reduce the size of our business to reflect the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on aviation.  As painful as it is, this is the most logical thing for us to propose. The retirement of the jumbo jet will be felt by many people across Britain, as well as by all of us at British Airways.  It is sadly another difficult but necessary step as we prepare for a very different future.”

BOAC operated its first 747 London to New York service on April 14, 1971 and in July 1989 the first British Airways 747-400, the aircraft type the airline still flies today, took to the skies.

Plane spotters who lined Heathrow’s perimeter fences would watch as the magnificent 747-400 would typically take off at 180 mph and reach cruising speeds in the sky of up to 565 mph.

For the next decade the airline took delivery of 56 more of the aircraft, with its final plane delivered in April 1989. At the time, it was the largest commercial aircraft in the world, and it remained so until the Airbus A380 first took to the skies in 2007.

At one point British Airways operated 57 747-400 aircraft. The original aircraft featured 27 First Class seats and 292 Economy seats. Initially, the upper deck, widely described as the bubble, contained a lounge, with lounge chair seating. It was known as the ‘club in the sky’ and the aircraft also played host to the world’s very first flat bed seat which British Airways pioneered in 1999.

Today’s aircraft can seat up to 345 customers in four classes – First, Club World (Business), World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) and World Traveller (Economy).  British Airways recently refreshed the interiors of a number of its 747 aircraft which were expected to remain in service for several years to come.

The airline’s jumbo jets are currently grounded at various locations in the UK and are now only expected to reach heights of 35,000 feet as they make their final journeys.

Facts and stats:

  • Boeing has been manufacturing 747 aircraft for more than 50 years
  • BOAC flew its first 747 flight on April 14, 1971
  • British Airways took delivery of its first 747-400 in July 1989 and its last in April 1999
  • At its height, the airline had a fleet of 57 747-400s
  • British Airways is currently the world’s biggest operator of 747-400 aircraft
  • The average age of British Airways’ fleet is 23 years old
  • The 747-400 has 6 ft high winglets on the tips of its wings to improve efficiency
  • It has 16 main wheels and two landing nose wheels
  • The wings of a 747-400 span 213 ft and are big enough to accommodate 50 parked cars
  • The tail height of 64 ft is equivalent to a six-storey building
  • The 747-400 is 231 ft long

British Airways aircraft photo gallery (Boeing):

British Airways aircraft slide show:


El Al schedules its last Boeing 747 revenue flight

El Al Israel Airlines Boeing 747-458 4X-ELA (msn 26055) LHR (SPA). Image: 925399.

El Al Israel Airlines has been gradually replacing its Boeing 747-400 fleet with new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

According to Airline Route, the carrier is now scheduling its last Boeing 747 revenue flight, charter flight LY 1747 between Rome (Fiumicino) and Tel Aviv on November 3, 2019.

The operational Boeing 747-458 fleet is now down to two aircraft: 4X-ELA (pictured) and 4X-ELC.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): El Al Israel Airlines Boeing 747-458 4X-ELA (msn 26055) LHR (SPA). Image: 925399.

El Al aircraft slide show:


The final British Airways heritage livery arrives at London Heathrow

G-CIVB Rolling Out. Iain White – Fennell Photography.

British Airways has made this announcement:

The fourth and final British Airways aircraft in a heritage livery has touched down at Heathrow this morning.  The Boeing 747-400 (above) adorns the Negus design which was originally on the British Airways fleet from 1974-1980.

The arrival of the aircraft rounds off a nostalgic few weeks for the aviation community.

Enthusiasts around the world have already been treated to a British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) liveried Boeing 747-400, a British European Airways (BEA) Airbus A319 and a British Airways Landor 747-400, which have collectively flown to more than 30 destinations across the UK, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and North America.

The special series of designs have been introduced to mark British Airways’ centenary, as the airline celebrates its past while looking to the future. Alongside the heritage liveries, all new aircraft entering the fleet, including the A350, will continue to receive today’s Chatham Dockyard design.

Copyright Photo: Michael Kelly.

The Negus-liveried 747-400, registration G-CIVB, entered the IAC paint bay at Dublin Airport earlier this month where it was painted with the first version of the Negus livery which adorned the British Airways fleet from 1974-1980, directly after the merger of BOAC and BEA and the formation of the airline that customers know today. The aircraft will head to Cape Town later today for its first commercial flight in its retro design.

When it initially flew, the Negus livery was the first to carry “British Airways” since 1939, when the original British Airways Limited merged with Imperial Airways to form BOAC. Interestingly, the Union Flag is not present on the side of the aircraft as, like the final BEA aircraft livery, the flag began to be fully celebrated on the aircraft’s tailfin instead.

In its centenary year, British Airways is hosting a range of activities and events. The airline is hosting BA 2119 – a program, which will lead the debate on the future of flying and explore the future of sustainable aviation fuels, the aviation careers of the future and the customer experience of the future.

The airline will be working with expert partners to identify BA’s 100 Modern Britons; the people up and down the country who are currently shaping modern Britain, and of course, the year would not be complete without creating some special moments for customers – on and off board.

The centenary activity is taking place alongside the airline’s current five-year £6.5bn investment for customers. This includes the installation of the best quality WiFi and power in every seat, fitting 128 long-haul aircraft with new interiors and taking delivery of 72 new aircraft. Earlier this week the airline also revealed its highly-anticipated new business class seat – ‘Club Suite’ – and confirmed it will arrive on the first of its A350 aircraft in July.

Photo of the Day: British Airways G-CIVB departs Dublin in the Negus livery

Today, the pictured Boeing 747-436 G-CIVB (msn 25811) of British Airways departed the paint shop at Dublin bound for London’s Heathrow Airport and regular service.

The Jumbo is painted in the 1973 Negus and Negus livery which was the first livery for British Airways in 1974 when BOAC and BEA merged to form BA. G-CIVB is also the fourth (and final) historic livery in the BA 100 celebrations.

This livery was unveiled in September 1973 on Boeing 707 G-AXXY.

Copyright Photo: Greenwing.

British Airways’ BOAC-painted Boeing 747-400 lands at London Heathrow, heads to New York JFK

British Airways made this announcement:

  • The BOAC-liveried Boeing 747, reg: G-BYGC, arrived back at Heathrow from the paint factory on the morning of February 18 in the rain (above) and entered the airline’s flying schedule, heading first to New York (JFK)
  • Arrival coincides with the Boeing 747 first flight anniversary just days earlier

Monday, February 18, 2019 – Large crowds gathered at Heathrow in the rain to watch the much-anticipated arrival of a British Airways Boeing 747-400 painted in the iconic design of its predecessor British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) (top).

The aircraft entered the IAC paint bay at Dublin Airport on February 5 where it was stripped of its current British Airways Chatham Dockyard design before being repainted with the BOAC livery which adorned the BOAC fleet between 1964 and 1974 (below).

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “The enormous interest we’ve had in this project demonstrates the attachment many people have to British Airways’ history. It’s something we are incredibly proud of, so in our centenary year it’s a pleasure to be celebrating our past while also looking to the future. We look forward to many more exciting moments like this as our other aircraft with heritage designs enter service.”

Picture by: Stuart Bailey

From the paint bay at Dublin Airport, the BOAC Boeing 747-400 flew directly to Heathrow on the aptly named BA100 touching down in the morning (top). Its next flight is today, Tuesday February 19, when it departed for New York JFK operating as flight BA117. This flight is particularly significant as it was the first route the Boeing 747-100 flew in BOAC colors.

Picture by: Stuart Bailey

After this, the aircraft will continue to fly British Airways’ 747-operated routes proudly showcasing the design as part of the airline’s centenary celebrations. The aircraft can be tracked using Flight Radar, which will feature a special image of the livery.

The BOAC livery will remain on the Boeing 747-400 until it retires in 2023, to allow as many customers as possible to have the chance to see it. By this time, British Airways will have retired the majority of its 747 fleet, replacing them with new state-of-the-art long-haul aircraft. This includes taking delivery of 18 A350s and 12 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the next four years – which feature new cabins and are more environmentally efficient – as well as another 26 short-haul aircraft, all part of the airline’s £6.5bn investment for customers.

Top Copyright Photo: Antony J. Best.

Delta says goodbye to the last Boeing 747

Delta Air Lines on Wednesday, January 3, 2018, ferried its last Boeing 747-451 (N674US) to the Pinal Airpark in Marana, Arizona. Flight DL 9771 departed from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (above) bound for Marana. The last Delta Boeing 747 is now resting in the desert. After operting several charters during the Christmas – New Years holidays and making a goodbye tour, the last 747 was retired from the fleet with this ferry flight. Employees were permitted to go on the last flight to the desert including a couple who decided to marry on the last flight.

Delta Air Lines issued this statement and photos:

For Delta flight attendant Holly R. and pilot Gene P., the 747 is more than the beloved Queen of the Skies. It was a matchmaker at 35,000 feet.

“We met nine years ago on the 747-400,” Gene said. “Since then we’ve spent years flying this airplane together around the world. In a lot of ways we really grew up on the 747, so it’s a fitting salute to say goodbye with this milestone. For us, it’s really a way of showing that as one life ends, another one begins.”

The couple, who married on board Delta’s final 747 passenger flight, met on the upper deck of a 747-400 flying U.S. troops to Kuwait.

“We met at row 75,” Holly said. “I will never forget that day, and just feel so blessed that we are able to take this awesome aircraft on its last flight.”

Holly began her career at Northwest Orient in 1985, becoming a Delta flight attendant when the airlines merged. Gene began his career in 1977 with Braniff Airways, later joining Northwest Airlines and becoming a Delta pilot after the merger.

After their initial meeting, the two cultivated their relationship while flying on the 747 together. As single parents living in different states, the two kept their relationship long distance.

“Every month Gene and I would look at our schedules and bid on flights together and every once in a while we’d get to fly together,” Holly said. “There were times where we wouldn’t get on the same rotation and we’d be apart for a month and a half, but for us, it just worked.”

Nine years later, Holly and Gene decided to tie the knot. Knowing their love of aviation and the Queen of the Skies, Holly and Gene opted for a unique venue, getting married on Delta’s final 747 passenger flight from Atlanta to the desert, where the plane will retire.

“I love this plane – it truly feels like home to me,” Holly said. “I feel very fortunate that the 747 was based in Detroit. I was able to fly with the same crews and we really became a family. It’s always been my favorite plane, and it’s absolutely a love of Gene’s – he loves it like he loves me. We’re so fortunate to able to give her a farewell with the memory of a lifetime. It was meant to be.”

Farewell Tour with "All Hail The Queen - Farewell Tour" emblem

Above Copyright Photo: Michael Carter. N674US shows its wear as it approaches Los Angeles on January 1, 2018 on its Farewell Tour.

After the two said “I do” alongside some of their closest friends and colleagues, they shared a champagne toast and cake.

“I am very sad to say goodbye to one of the most iconic airplanes that’s ever been made, but we’re thrilled and proud to have this lifelong memory of getting married on the last passenger 747 flight in the United States,” Gene said.

The newlyweds will make a home together in Minnesota, and will continue their Delta careers based in Minneapolis.

Above and below photos: Delta. Employees were permitted to write send-off messages on the aircraft.

Delta Air Lines Boeing aircraft slide show (current livery):

Below Copyright Photo (all others by Delta): Delta Air Lines Boeing 747-451 N674US (msn 30269) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 907046.

Delta Air Lines Boeing 747-451 N674US (msn 30269) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 907046.

Delta’s customers and employees say farewell to “Queen of the Skies” in Seoul

Delta Air Lines issued this statement and photo:

Nearly 400 customers, crew and employees said a formal farewell to Delta’s Boeing 747-400 on Sunday morning to commemorate the Queen of the Skies’ retirement from Delta revenue flights.

“The Boeing 747-400 has been an integral part of Delta’s (including Northwest) entire fleet for the last three decades, especially on trans-Pacific routes,” said Andrew Kim, Delta’s Director – Sales, Korea. “Today’s flight, Ship 6310, was manufactured in 1990, has flown approximately 64 million miles and is retiring after 27 years of service, in favor of safer, more comfortable, more reliable and more efficient modes of transportation for our passengers.”

“Now Delta has introduced, for its next-generation main aircraft for the trans-Pacific, the newer Airbus A350-900, which is already active on the Seoul Incheon-Detroit route on select days. With the retirement of the 747, the route now offers the latest aircraft with premium products and service everyday” Andrew added.

The ceremony honored two distinguished 747-400 captains for their contribution to aviation history and thanked customers for sharing the decades with Delta.

“I started flying for Delta Air Lines in 1976. All of those years have put me in the fortunate position of being the Senior 747 Captain at Delta and given me the incredible honor of flying today’s flight along with this great crew,” said Capt. Brian Hollingsworth. “The 747 is the most iconic aircraft ever built, and an aircraft that every pilot dreams of flying. Actually, I have been married to a former flight attendant for 40 years now, and she will be greeting me when we arrive in Detroit because today is my last trip. I am retiring after 42 years at Delta.”

After thanking his fellow crew members, Hollingsworth welcomed Capt. Rusty Bliss, one of Delta’s most senior captains and a 747 check airman instructor.

“For almost a half a century, Northwest Airlines and now Delta Air Lines have been pioneering the Pacific with the Boeing 747. This wonderful airplane has provided a safe, comfortable, reliable and efficient mode of transportation for our passengers for many years. Historians will compare what the Boeing 747s have done for international flying to what the DC-3 did for domestic aviation in the United States,” said Bliss. “We know there are many of you who are admirers of the Boeing 747-400, and I understand you have chosen this last flight to say farewell to the queen of our fleet. Thank you for your loyalty to her and to Delta Air Lines.”

Meng Aguirre, Managing Director – Trans Pacific Operations, closed the ceremony by giving appreciation to employees and, most importantly, customers.

“Thank you and welcome to all our customers today as we celebrate Delta Air Lines’ Queen of the Skies, the 747-400. All of us who have worked on the 747-400 will always remember our queen with fondness. We would also like to recognize all our employees for their dedicated service to provide you with safe, reliable and excellent customer service on the ground and on-board. Enjoy your flight today, and we look forward to welcoming you back to ICN or your next Delta destination.”

After the ceremony, passengers enjoyed taking photographs with 747-400 branded back panels and received commemorative items including post cards and stickers. Flight 158 from Seoul-Incheon to Detroit departed early Sunday morning.

Photo: Delta Air Lines.

United’s last Boeing 747 revenue flight

On November 7, 2017 United Airlines operated its last Boeing 747 revenue flight with flight UA 747 from San Francisco (SFO) to Honolulu (HNL). The last flight was operated with the pictured Boeing 747-422 N118UA. Flight UA 747 departed around noon almost an hour late due to a mechanical issue.

The aircraft is now expected to be ferried to Victorville, CA (VCV) for storage and final disposal.

Mark Durbin was there at SFO to record the historic departure. All photos by Mark Durbin/AirlinersGallery.com.

United Airlines issued this statement and photos:

On November 7, 2017, United Airlines (UAL) flew – for the final time – a Boeing 747 aircraft, the jumbo jet with the unmistakable silhouette that once represented the state-of-the-art in air travel.


Serving as the ultimate throwback, the airline recreated the first 747 flight operated by United in 1970 for today’s historic farewell journey. Flight UA747 departed from San Francisco with service to Honolulu with more than 300 customers, employees and distinguished guests onboard.

From a 1970s-inspired menu to retro uniforms for flight attendants to inflight entertainment befitting of that first flight, the “Queen of the Skies” is being sent off in style. Seats for this flight sold out in less than 90 minutes when this farewell celebration was announced in September.

“The iconic 747 is a remarkably special aircraft that signaled a new era of air travel and was equally recognizable and beloved by our customers and crew alike,” said Oscar Munoz, CEO of United. “While today is bittersweet, we’ll continue to honor the Queen of the Skies’ game-changing legacy of connecting people and uniting the world with our next-generation of long-haul aircraft.”

The send-off began this morning at SFO with a gate party featuring a 747 gallery, 1970s costumes for use in a retro photo booth, a life-size retirement card for customers and employees to sign and of course, cake. Oscar Munozaddressed the crowd alongside State Senator Jerry Hill and executives from Boeing and Pratt & Whitney.

Upon landing in Honolulu, local employees will welcome the aircraft with final festivities to close out the historic day, including remarks from United leaders and Hawaii State Representative Henry J.C. Aquino.

747-400 Facts and Figures

  • The 747-400 ranks as the commercial airliner with the largest passenger interior volume, at 31,285 cubic feet.
  • At 231 feet, 10 inches from nose to tail, the 747-400 is roughly as long as five humpback whales end-to-end.
  • The wingspan (211 feet, 5 inches) is about 10 feet wider than the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
  • Its wings have a surface area of 5,650 square feet, bigger than a standard size NBA basketball court.
  • A typical trans-Atlantic flight uses over 5.5 tons of food supplies— more than the weight of a large Asian elephant.
  • The tail height is 63.8 feet, equivalent to a six-story building.
  • The aircraft contains 171 miles of wiring, enough to connect New York City to Baltimore.
  • The 747-400 is one of the fastest passenger aircraft in service, with a cruise speed of 565 mph, more than twice as fast as a Formula One car.

United’s 747 Through the Years

June 26, 1970 United Airlines receives its first 747-100 complete with a christening ceremony fit for a luxury liner.

July 23, 1970 United makes its first 747 commercial flight, with a trip from San Francisco to Honolulu.

April 22, 1985 United announces its plan to acquire Pan Am’s Pacific routes, as well as 11 747SP planes. The 747SPs feature a 48-foot-shorter body and fly higher, faster, and farther than standard 747 models.

January 29-30, 1988 Friendship One, a 747SP owned by United Airlines, sets the around-the-world air speed record of 36 hours, 54 minutes, and 15 seconds. This special flight raises $500,000 for children’s charities through the Friendship Foundation. Tickets cost a minimum of $5,000, and special guest passengers included astronaut Neil Armstrong, famed test pilots Bob Hoover and Lieutenant General Laurence C. Craigie, and Moya Lear, the widow of Lear Jet founder Bill Lear.

June, 1989: United Airlines receives their first 747-400 which provides increased range.

September 1996A 747SP previously flown by United is transformed into NASA’s SOFIA, or Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, which carries a 17-ton, 8-foot-wide infrared telescope mounted behind an enormous sliding door.

January 11, 2017United announces that it will retire the 747-400 fleet in the last quarter of 2017.

July 28, 2017United schedules a special domestic flight from Chicago O’Hare to San Francisco to allow more customers to experience the Queen of the Skies.

October, 2017: United employees get a chance to say goodbye to the 747 when the aircraft goes on a farewell tour with stops at each of the carrier’s U.S. hubs.

October 29, 2017United flies its last international 747 flight from Seoul to San Francisco.

November 7, 2017United celebrates the retirement of the 747 with a fitting full-circle moment. A special retro event sees the aircraft flying from San Francisco to Honolulu—a nod to its first-ever flight back in 1970.