The last Boeing 747
The last Boeing 747 was delivered to a customer on January 31, 2023.
It marks the end of an era, the end of a 53-year long production run for Boeing. The last Boeing 747 was delivered to Atlas Air, on January 31. Atlas is a major scheduled cargo airline, and passenger charter airline, based in Purchase, New York, just outside New York City. The 747 is iconic in America’s pop culture. It’s instantly recognizable with the distinctive ‘hump’ on the top.
Polar Air Cargo
I have had the good fortune to both ride on the 747 as a passenger, a time or two, and in my professional work, years ago, I worked for a cargo airline, Polar Air Cargo, as an aircraft dispatcher and was ‘dispatch qualified’, as they call it, on the 747. This meant I was qualified to do the flight planning for cargo flights going around the world. And of course, it was all done via computer. We did not have time to do it by hand. Those days are long over.
The 747 is a logistical nightmare at times, given the complexities involved with international flight planning over long distances, sometimes up to 12 hours, when considering various international routes (north Atlantic, Trans-Pacific, Hawaii) available and the upper-level winds, fuel consumption, cruising Mach number, and would it be able to fly non-stop, or would a ‘tech’ stop (fuel stop) be required? Many calculations were involved.
As I recall, we had an 18-item checklist that we used when flight planning, so we did not miss anything. And for European flights, we had to check with what is called Euro-Control, of which there were two ‘centers’, one in Brussels, and the other in Paris as I recall. Euro-Control controlled the ‘airways or routes that were used in Europe, and they would approve or deny the flight plans that I submitted. If denied, we would then have to work up another flight plan and hopefully it would be approved. It could get quite complicated. It was a lot of work! It was very hectic as well. But it was good experience, as well as an eye opener into the world of international flying and what is involved.
Boeing 747’s are sure to be flying for several more decades. They made long distance travel available to the masses. The 747 has been given the nickname, ‘Queen of the skies’, which is well deserved.
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Very nice article, John. 747 will be missed 🙂