Home / News / World /  ‘Original jumbo jet’ Boeing 747 all set for final send-off on January 31

On January 31, 53 years after its instantly-identifiable humped silhouette captured the world's eye as a Pan Am passenger jet, the final commercial Boeing 747 will be delivered to Atlas Air in the surviving cargo variant.

In order to address the demand for mass travel, the Boeing 747 - the “original" Jumbo Jet - was created in the late 1960s. The upper deck and nose of the first twin-aisle wide-body aircraft were transformed into the most opulent club on earth. The 747 changed travel, though, in the seemingly endless rows at the back of the new jumbo.

From America's "Doomsday Plane" nuclear command post to pope travels aboard chartered 747s dubbed Shepherd One, the jumbo also left its influence on world events, symbolising both conflict and peace. To replace the American presidential jet known as Air Force One, two previously delivered 747s are currently being equipped.

Also Read: Virgin Atlantic names plane after ‘unforgettable’ Queen Elizabeth

After a delay caused by an engine problem, the first 747 took off from New York on January 22, 1970, more than doubling the number of seats on board to 350–400. This changed the way airports were built.

"It was the aircraft for the people, the one that really delivered the capability to be a mass market," aviation historian Max Kingsley-Jones said. "It was transformational across all aspects of the industry."

The 747's early years were plagued by issues, but it eventually became a cash cow. The $1 billion development expenditures nearly drove Boeing into bankruptcy because it thought supersonic jets were the wave of the future of air travel.

Also Read: UK-based firm to sell Air India’s four Boeing 747-400 jumbo aircraft

Following a decline during the oil crisis of the 1970s, the 747-400, which Boeing released in 1989 with new engines and lighter materials to fulfil the rising demand for trans-Pacific flights, marked the beginning of the aircraft's heyday.

After outlasting European Airbus' double-decker A380 passenger plane in manufacturing, the most recent 747-8 version is expected to fly for years, primarily as a freighter.

The final 747 delivery this week raises concerns about what will become of Boeing's massive, now-underutilised Everett widebody production facility outside of Seattle in the wake of the COVID outbreak and the 737 MAX safety disaster.

(With agency inputs)

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