As the hangar at Boeing’s Everett assembly plant opens its massive doors, she appears: the last 747-8 freighter.
On a chilly Tuesday, thousands of former and current Boeing employees, along with actor and pilot John Travolta, airline executives, journalists and more gathered in a ceremony to celebrate the last deployment of the 747-8, known as “The Queen of the Sky”. .”
The aircraft represents many achievements in the aviation industry, including becoming the first aircraft to seat more than 400 people and the first twin-aisle airliner. This plane is the last of its kind, the last 747 from Boeing.
Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said at the launch ceremony on Tuesday that the 747 is a product and cultural legacy of Boeing. The aircraft’s history also fuels innovation in other designs, he said, adding that investing in innovation will lead to “lifelong product legacy stories”.
“Our commitment as a leadership team at Boeing is to maintain this culture of innovation forever,” Calhoun said.
Among those present at the celebration were former employees who worked on the design, construction and delivery of the aircraft, dubbed “The Incredibles”.
An ‘incredible’, Jim Aboytes, recalled in an interview on Tuesday when he saw the first test flight of the first 747 take off in 1969. Aboytes first said that at age 22 he thought the 747 was too big to fly, so he crossed his fingers hoping it would take off. When it did, he felt relieved.
Aboytes worked as an electrician on about 40,747. “I’ve worked on a lot of different planes, and I couldn’t believe the size of this [plane]“said Aboytes.
The latest 747-8 freighter delivered to cargo carrier Atlas Air on Tuesday is the 1,574th Queen of the Skies.
After 54 years in production, the plane will take off from Paine Field on Wednesday.
The Everett factory was first built just for 747s. The building wasn’t even finished when people were assembling the first plane in the 1960s, and it’s now the largest by volume in the world.
The 747 played a significant role in establishing Boeing’s dominance in the aviation industry. The upper deck was one of the aspects of the aircraft that made the 747 recognizable among other aircraft. A modified version of the plane is still the White House Air Force One. The Queen of the Skies also became NASA’s Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
The 747 was also important to Washington state’s economic development, Boeing historian Michael Lombardi said in an interview Tuesday. It brought jobs to communities in cities like Everett and helped put the area on the map as an aviation hub.
“The entire community in our Puget Sound area has benefited from this aircraft and the revenue it brings to Boeing,” Lombardi said.
Lombardi said the 747 represents a pioneering and innovative spirit that is part of the Puget Sound region, which has led to the establishment of companies such as Amazon and Microsoft here.
“You have Amazon and Microsoft,” Lombardi said. “Well, the reason this is happening is Boeing.”
German airline Lufthansa was one of the buyers of the 747 passenger variant and currently operates 19 747-8s. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said he personally liked the model and said it was “a symbol of the world, which the 747 has made considerably smaller”.
Scott Tomkins, one of The Incredibles, said the plane’s distinctive shape has become synonymous with Boeing. Seeing the latest plane, a cargo plane with six windows on either side of the upper deck, Tomkins said he felt sad the plane’s production was ending but was proud of the impact the plane was having. airplane has had on the commercial aviation industry.
The “queen of the skies” could carry 420 passengers, three times more than the previous 707 model. As the aircraft developed, the final version of the passenger 747-8 could carry 470 people on long-haul routes. The 747’s long range enabled the first flights between major cities and its jumbo size allowed for cheaper fares for passengers.
Even after Boeing delivered the last 747-8 passenger model to Korean Air five years ago, demand for the freighter model remained. Until it dries.
The Everett plant is currently assembling the 767 and 777. It will soon begin rolling out a 737 MAX assembly line due to “the availability of highly skilled workers and factory space,” it said Monday. Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal.
Another ‘incredible’, Kurt Eckley, has worked on several 747s over the years, from his arrival in 1965 until his retirement in 2000. Seeing the plane roll out, Eckley said, “All the good things have an end, and so it was a long trip for this plane, so it worked well.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the year Jim Aboytes first saw a test flight of the 747. It also incorrectly listed the location from which the last 747 will leave on Wednesday.