After almost 50 years, this jumbo jet will soon be a part of aviation history.
When it first took flight in 1970, the Boeing 747 was the number one aircraft that airlines couldn’t wait to get their hands on, thanks to its comfort and large space. However, as we head further and further into the 21st Century, carriers are weeding out these large jets from their fleet due to the cost of fuel and efficiency that the Boeing 747’s can no longer compete with. And because of this, we are seeing the end of an era for this massive airplane many of us have flown on for several decades.
(Image source: Pan Am)
The first time the 747 made its debut, it changed the world of flying. The cost of traveling long-hauls dropped tremendously, and the amount of space to transport passengers increased, establishing the well-known nine-across seating configuration. It was the first aircraft that travelers could stow their carry-on luggage in the overhead compartments, and seats in economy were much larger than before (and still larger than they are today by about 4cm). However, those sitting in first class only got about 10cm more in space than those seating in economy, however, first class passengers had access to onboard bars and lounges, where they spent most of their time during the flight.
Pan Am was the first airline to add the Boeing 747 to its fleet back in 1970, followed by Qantas a year later. Singapore Airlines (SIA) followed suit almost two decades later in 1989, however it was the first to discard it from their fleet in 2012. Interestingly enough, SIA was the number one carrier that had the most 747s—more than 500.
Most other airlines that are operating have already ditched this jumbo jet, aside from United, which plans to fly its last one on the 7th of November, and Delta soon after that.
Due to the recent increase in gasoline prices over the last decade, four-engine aircraft have become too expensive to fly. With the rollout of Boeing’s 787 and 777, as well as Airbus’ A350, airlines are opting for planes that cost less but can still travel as far as a 747.
The amount of Boeing 747s being produced has dwindled immensely. In 2015, the company only rolled out one 747 per month, in September of 2016, it slowed down to one every two months.
From what’s been said, the 747s that still remain will probably be converted into freight and military planes, but not for commercial use. It’s definitely an end of an era for the Boeing 747s, and although we may miss them, we can’t wait to see what the future holds.