For more than five decades, it has been the symbol of reliable, fast-paced, and far-reaching air travel. With a humped fuselage that became the face of every line advertisement, the “Jumbo Jet” was a plane that truly changed the aviation industry. And now, Boeing just finished making the world’s last 747, bringing an unforgettable era of this engineering marvel to an end.
The science and other stuff to know
The Boeing 747 first entered service in the year 1970. As a passenger aircraft, It had a seating capacity of 524 in a typical two-class configuration and 416 in a three-class configuration.
It was commissioned at a time when the world was burning with a desire to travel farther than ever before, quickly and at a reduced cost, and Boeing delivered just what the doctor ordered. It quickly became the weapon of choice for most airliners, whether they were looking to transport people or cargo to places no aircraft had ever set its wheels on.
But as with all good things, the reign of 747 is in its twilight days. Although the parent company expects 747s to remain in service for a good few years, it is the end of the road for the aircraft’s production run. The last of the behemoths was delivered to Atlas Air as a freight carrier.
The arrival of Boeing’s 747 was one of the defining moments for air and global travel. It was the first two-aisle passenger aircraft, a technological masterpiece, and its streamlined design exuded a peculiar air of elegance. Airlines that had them felt a sense of pride and prestige, and the aircraft alone was enough to make eager travelers throng ticket counters. Even after the passage of 55 years, its appearance remains as stately as it ever was.
It made air travel safer, affordable, and accessible to a wider section of society, as its advancements and abilities made it possible for travel costs to come significantly down. It is the longest-serving commercial aircraft model in history, and yes, it is a big deal.
The world is increasingly calling for measures to limit the transportation industry’s impact on the environment, and new kinds of aircraft are looking to claim the throne held by traditional planes.
Though the production of new 747s has ended, Boeing will continue to support existing aircraft for several more years. The company was quoted by Insider as saying that its “commitment does not end at delivery, and we’ll continue to support 747 operations and sustainment well into the future”.
A change of guard is in the offing in the global aviation industry. The “queen of the skies”, as the 747 was commonly referred to, is becoming less and less of a sighting owing to its replacement by planes that can achieve superior fuel economy. But we doubt anyone can fill the mighty 747’s shoes as it takes off.