The legendary Boeing 747 has reached the end of its runway after 50 years in the sky. After over half a century of manufacturing, the final Boeing 747 rolled out of a US facility in Washington state.
Atlas Air, which ordered four 747-8 freighters earlier this year, was the last customer. On Tuesday night, the final plane was hauled out of Boeing’s massive facility in Everett, Washington.
The 747 jumbo jet has served as a freight plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying roughly 500 passengers, and even the presidential aircraft Air Force One.
When it debuted in 1969, it was the world’s largest commercial aircraft and the first with two aisles. In addition, the plane’s design had a second deck extending from the cockpit back out over the plane’s front third, giving it a unique hump that made it readily recognized and prompted the nickname “Whale.”
The first 747 was built in 16 months by almost 50,000 Boeing personnel. Since then, the organization has completed 1,573 more projects. However, over the last two decades, Boeing and its European rival Airbus have shifted their focus to more fuel-efficient and profitable aircraft, such as widebody jets with two engines rather than the 747’s four.
Delta was the final US airline to operate the 747 for passenger flights, discontinuing in 2017; however, some international carriers, including Lufthansa, still use it.
In May, Boeing announced that its company headquarters would move from Chicago to Arlington, Virginia. In addition, top executives are moving to the Washington, DC, region, putting them nearer to the Federal Aviation Administration, which certifies Boeing passenger and freight jets.
Since two of Boeing’s most popular aircraft, the 737 Max, crashed fatally in 2018 and 2019, killing everybody aboard, the FAA and Boeing’s relationship has become tense. The FAA took almost two years to approve design changes, enabling the jet to resume flying.