SEATTLE (AP) — After more than half a century, Boeing is set to roll its last 747 out of a Washington state factory on Tuesday.
The jumbo jet, which has taken on numerous roles as a cargo plane, a commercial airliner capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, and as Air Force One, debuted in 1969. It was the world’s largest commercial airliner and the first with two aisles, and it still towers over most other aircraft.
The 747 design included a second canopy that extended from the cockpit rearward over the first third of the plane, giving it a distinctive hump that made the plane instantly recognizable and inspired a nickname, the Whale. More elegantly, the 747 became known as the Queen of the Skies.
It took more than 50,000 Boeing employees less than 16 months to produce the first 747. The company has completed 1,573 more since then.
But over the past 15 years, Boeing and its European rival Airbus have launched new wide-body planes with two engines instead of the 747’s four. They were more fuel-efficient and cost-effective.
Delta was the last US airline to use the 747 for passenger flights, which ended in 2017, although a few other international airlines continue to fly it, including German carrier Lufthansa.
The end customer is cargo carrier Atlas Air, which ordered four 747-8 freighters earlier this year. The last one was scheduled to leave Boeing’s massive factory in Everett, Washington, on Tuesday night.
Boeing’s roots are in the Seattle area and it has assembly plants in Washington state and South Carolina. The company announced in May that it would move its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, Virginia.
The move to the Washington, DC area brings its executives closer to key officials from the federal government and the Federal Aviation Administration, which certifies Boeing’s cargo and passenger aircraft.
Boeing’s relationship with the FAA has been strained since the fatal crashes of its best-selling plane, the 737 Max, in 2018 and 2019. It took the FAA nearly two years, much longer than Boeing expected, to approve the design changes. and allow the aircraft to return to operation. The air.
Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.