The legendary Boeing 747 is retiring!

1,574e and the last Boeing 747 was delivered to a cargo company last week. The jumbo jet was a vehicle for the democratization of air travel.

through Thierry Vigoreux

1,574 last weeke and the last Boeing 747 was delivered to cargo company Atlas Air.

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LThe characteristic silhouette of the Boeing 747, the upper deck in the front part of the fuselage forms a hump, will not immediately disappear from the radar. About 400 are in service, but the source has dried up. The first commercial flight in PanAm colors took place between Washington and London on January 22, 1970. 1,574 last weeke and the last Boeing 747 was delivered to cargo company Atlas Air. The device left the factory in Everett, the largest building in the world by volume, suitable for receiving fins as high as a six-story building.

For 55 years, the world’s first two-aisle aircraft has flown the colors of more than 100 airlines. The first 1970 version carried 360 passengers, the later 747-8 version was certified for a maximum of 605 passengers. Among the very special aircraft that carry very few passengers are the two 747-100s used to transport NASA’s Space Shuttle (Shuttle Carrier Aircraft). In 1990, two 747-200B aircraft were replaced by Air Force One, replacing the Boeing 707s that carried various US presidents. Two 747-8s are kept in San Antonio to build possible successors to Air Force One, but exorbitant budgets ($5.2 billion) pose some challenges.

READ ALSONASA buried Sofia, a “747 convertible”.

“Holiday Flights”

Air France is one of the first companies in the world committed to the democratization of air transport with a total of 99 copies of the Boeing 747. “Holiday flights” appeared in 1979. 747 planes filled with tourists traveling at affordable prices fly several times a week to the West Indies, New York, Montreal, Dakar, etc.

But the national company was not the only French operator operating the jumbo jet. Corsair flew nearly every major 747 model with the -100, -200, -300, -400 and even the SP, a long-haul “Special Performance” version for South African Airways. They flew from Johannesburg to Europe non-stop around Africa, where flights were banned due to the apartheid regime. Corsair’s last 747-400 was canceled on June 15, 2020. Air France grounded its 747s four years ago.

READ ALSOWhy was a brand new Boeing 747 cancelled?Before being acquired by Air France in January 1989, the second French company, UTA, then flew nine 747s, including two -300s, in the colors of its subsidiary Aeromaritime. These two 747s with extended upper decks can carry around 500 passengers in just two classes. The low-cost carrier offered competitive fares to the West Indies. Today, it uses the same model as French bee Aeromaritime, which also flies new compact-cabin aircraft (with the same manager, Marc Rochet).


Minerve was the first French charter company to take delivery of the B747-200 in 1988. The arrival of this jumbo jet helped West Indies lower prices. Air Liberté, another French actor flying the 747, will use the Luxembourg-registered, painted aircraft for a few months.

Even Air Inter used the jumbo jet for flights to Nice, Marseille, Toulouse and Bordeaux from 1986 to 1989. One of the aircraft, painted white and registered F-BPVD, is leased to West Indies on weekends to Air France, which Air Inter uses during the week to fly domestically. But the economic model of these ultra-short (and expensive) flights was not satisfactory, while customers wanted more frequent flights. This resulted in a Shuttle with less than two hundred seats every hour, at least.

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