Boeing and Atlas Air Worldwide joined thousands of people – including current and former employees as well as customers and suppliers – to celebrate the delivery of the final 747 to Atlas, bringing to a close more than a half-century of production.
Boeing employees who designed and built the first 747, known as the "Incredibles," returned to be honoured at the Everett factory where the journey of the 747 began in 1967. The factory produced 1,574 aircraft over the life of the program.
"This monumental day is a testament to the generations of Boeing employees who brought to life the aircraft that 'shrank the world,' and revolutionized travel and air cargo as the first wide-body," said Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Aircraft. "It is fitting to deliver this final 747-8 Freighter to the largest operator of the 747, Atlas Air, where the 'Queen' will continue to inspire and empower innovation in air cargo."
"We are honoured to continue our long history of flying this iconic aircraft for our customers around the world," said John Dietrich, president and chief executive officer, of Atlas Air Worldwide. "Atlas Air was founded over 30 years ago with a single 747-200 converted freighter, and since then, we have spanned the globe operating nearly every fleet type of the 747, including the Dreamlifter, Boeing's 747 Large Cargo Freighter, for the transport of 787 Dreamliner parts. We are grateful to Boeing for their shared commitment to safety, quality, innovation and the environment, and for their partnership to ensure the continued success of the 747 programmes as we operate the aircraft for decades to come."
As the first twin-aisle aircraft and "jumbo jet," the "Queen of the Skies" enabled airlines to connect people across vast distances and provide non-stop tarns-oceanic flights. Its development solidified Boeing's role as an industry leader in commercial aviation. The aircraft’s core design with its distinctive hump and seating on the upper deck has delighted generations of passengers and operators alike. Boeing continued to improve on the original design with models like the 747-400 in 1988 and the final 747-8 model that was launched in 2005; across all the models, the jet has delivered unmatched operating economics and efficiency to travel and air cargo markets.
N863GT took off from Washington State and headed for Cincinnati. But, it had one final surprise for fans of the old Queen of the Skies. The aircraft drew the shape of the number 747 inside a large crown which was visible to anyone watching the flight on websites such as Flight Radar 24. This was no small crown. It was just under 96 kilometres in width and took two and a half hours to complete.