Known as the "Queen of Heaven," few aircraft are as recognizable as the Boeing 747, and in half a century it has carried 3.5 billion passengers and billions of tons of cargo around the planet.
But 50 years of aviation history came to an end today when the last British Airways jumbo jets left London Heathrow Airport and two 747-400 planes took off from both runways at the same time before heading to junkyards.
The Civil Aviation Administration granted one of the jets special permission to fly in a poignant farewell from the airport over Heathrow at 600 feet before heading to South Wales and the Cotswolds.
Thousands of BA employees and aviation enthusiasts watched today's departure at 8.35 a.m., which was broadcast live online. It marks a sad ending for the legendary aircraft and a turning point in the history of British aviation.
Versions of the four-engine aircraft with 345 seats have been in service at BA since 1971. The Mail announced in July that the airline is slated to scrap its fleet of 31,747 following a collapse in passenger numbers during the pandemic.
The G-CIVB aircraft, one of British Airways' last two Boeing 747-400s, takes off from London Heathrow Airport today
A British Airways Boeing 747 leaves London Heathrow Airport on its final flight this morning
The G-CIVY aircraft, one of British Airways' last two Boeing 747-400s, is starting a synchronized double take-off today
A British Airways Boeing 747 leaves Heathrow Airport this morning. The fleet shutdown was brought forward due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the airline and the aviation sector
The G-CIVY aircraft is starting a synchronized double take-off on parallel runways today with another 747 at Heathrow Airport
The G-CIVY aircraft is one of the last two British Airways Boeing 747-400 aircraft to perform a synchronized double take-off today
British Airways' last two Boeing 747-400s were designated G-CIVY (front) and G-CIVB (rear) today at London Heathrow
A Union Jack is panned out of the cockpit window of one of British Airways' last two Boeing 747-400 aircraft this morning
G-CIVY and G-CIVB are preparing for final flight from Heathrow Airport today following the departure of the airline's 747 fleet
One of the last two British Airways Boeing 747-400s called G-CIVY is preparing for the final flight from Heathrow today
BA chiefs are believed to have discussed the possibility of a low-altitude UK landmark being carried over to mark the final flight.
That would have confirmed the departure of the Concorde, which wowed the crowd when it stepped over the Clifton Suspension Bridge in November 2003.
However, such a stunt was viewed as too expensive at a time when BA was facing immense cost pressures. There were also concerns about overcrowding.
The two remaining jumbo jets G-CIVB and G-CIVY have been in use at BA since 1994 and 1998, respectively.
Although loved by frequent fliers and the general public, the aircraft are notoriously inefficient when compared to newer jets like the 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350.
A Boeing 747 in the livery of the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) on March 19, 1971. The airline now known as BA flew its first 747 flight on April 14, 1971 before becoming the world's largest operator of 747-400 aircraft has been
A Boeing 747 in British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) livery at Heathrow Airport on April 16, 1971
The arrival of the giant Boeing 747 on the world stage in 1969 ushered in a new era of air travel. One is pictured above in 1971
British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) captain Douglas Redrup stands with members of his flight crew before taking off the first scheduled flight of a BOAC Boeing 747-100 jumbo jet from Heathrow to New York on April 14, 1971
British Overseas Airways Corporation's first Boeing 747 arrives at Heathrow Airport on May 23, 1970
A Boeing 747 in BOAC livery in an undated picture. It became the world's largest operator of 747-400s with a fleet of 57
A passenger cabin in a Boeing 747 on an undated photo. Known as the "Queen of Heaven", few aircraft are as recognizable as the Boeing 747, and in half a century it has carried 3.5 billion passengers around the planet
A Boeing 747 jumbo jet is pictured next to the Concorde airliner at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport in October 1978
An undated British Airways photo of a cabin in a Boeing 747. The aircraft is now a symbolic victim of the aviation industry crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
Few aircraft are as recognizable as the 747, but it has now become a symbolic victim of the crisis facing the aviation industry as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
A top speed of just over 200 km / h makes the Jumbo the fastest airliner in the world, but it is notoriously inefficient compared to newer aircraft.
It costs more than £ 13,000 to land a 747 at Heathrow, of which almost £ 4,000 is environmental tariff.
The first 747-400 from BA – the variant most frequently used today – was delivered in June 1989. It flew until 2018 when it was sent to a junkyard in California.
British Airways' Boeing 747-400 G-CIVU airliner lands at London Heathrow Airport on July 14, 2018
A British Airways Boeing 747 aircraft zooms over the houses before landing at London's Heathrow Airport
The British Airways Boeing 747-400 with a brightly colored fin that used to be a feature of the famous jets
Aircraft spotters and spectators watch a British Airways Boeing 747 take off from Heathrow Airport in London in 2001
The lineup of the British Airways 747 with the BA logo on its tail has become a familiar location at airports around the world
British Airways 747 aircraft on the runway of London Heathrow Airport read about takeoff as early as February 2004
BA's first 747-400 – the most widely used variant today – was delivered in June 1989 and flew until 2018
Elysa Marsden, Toni Richards and Olivia Welch walk in front of a 747 at London Heathrow Airport in March 2019
The airline operated 57 Boeing 747-400s, which means a total of 100 passenger jumbos and one cargo version were flown.
Enthusiasts and customers were encouraged to share special memories or photos of the 747 from BA at 7.47am and 7.47pm using the hashtag # BA747farewell.
The planes that took off in 1969 were considerably larger than the existing planes with a capacity of around 550 passengers. The airline once had the world's largest fleet of the model 747-400 with 31 aircraft.
Alex Cruz, British Airways Chairman and CEO, said yesterday: “Tomorrow is going to be a difficult day for everyone at British Airways as the plane will leave our Heathrow home for the last time.
Photos taken in August show that some British Airways 747-400 engines have been removed at Cotswold Airport
Four British Airways 747-400s are being stored at Cotswold Airport near Kemble in Gloucestershire after being retired by BA
The four aircraft are being scrapped and dismantled by a team of specialists at Cotswold Airport, pictured in August
& # 39; We will pay tribute to them for the incredible role they have played in our 100 year history and the millions of customers and BA colleagues who flown on board and looked after them.
"We hope the UK will share its memories with us on Thursday at 7.47am and 7.47pm using # BA747farewell on social media."
The 747 fleet is to be replaced by quieter, more fuel-efficient aircraft in order for the airline to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
The airline expects the last 747 currently positioned in Wales to leave the fleet by the end of the year.
"Queen of the Skies": How the British Airways Boeing 747-400 was a "proven performer with high reliability"
The four-engine, wide-body Boeing 747-400 is an icon of the British Airways fleet.
BA, the world's largest operator of the Boeing 747, described the 747-400 as "a proven high-performance performer", characterized by high reliability and significant aerodynamic improvements over earlier 747 models, whose history goes back 50 years.
The life of the aircraft began in April 1970 when BOAC – which later merged with BEA to form what is now the airline – took over the first Boeing 747-100, which Boeing said was the 23rd built by Boeing.
BOAC then took over another 14 aircraft over the next three years, with the 15th aircraft delivered in December 1973.
A Boeing 747 long-haul, four-engine, wide-body aircraft for BOAC – British Overseas Airways Corporation, which flew over Great Britain on April 7, 1971
None of these early models still flies today. Most were scrapped, a handful were stored, and the first BA 747s left the fleet in October 1998, aviation publisher Simple Flying reports.
Following the merger of BOAC and BEA, the 15 Boeing 747s were transferred to British Airways on April 1, 1974. BA took over four 747-100s and increased the total fleet size to 19.
On February 18, 1991, the British Airways Boeing 747-100 was wrecked in Kuwait during the Gulf War, making it the only BA 747-100 to be involved in a fuselage loss during its time with the airline.
BA received its first Boeing 747-200 on June 22, 1977, and the airline operated a total of 24 747-200 passengers, which were delivered between 1977 and 1988. No British Airways 747-200s were involved in fuselage losses during the airline.
The Boeing 747-400 is the BA model best known to us today and the only type still in service with British Airways. BA's first 747-400 was delivered in June 1989 and flew with the flag bearer for almost 30 years.
British Airways announced that its fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft, affectionately known as "The Queen of the Skies," is likely to have flown its last scheduled commercial flight
The airline operated a total of 57 Boeing 747-400s, which means BA 100 operated 747 passengers and one 747 cargo. 7thBetween 47 and 400 aircraft had been delivered by April 1999, making BA's youngest aircraft 21 years old.
But the "Queen of the Skies" will no longer wear the red, white and blue of the Union Jack after British Airways shuts down its Boeing 747 fleet as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline, which was the world's largest operator of the 747-400 model, had already planned to build its fleet of 31 of the iconic wide-body jets in 2024.
But the pandemic, which left most of the world's planes on the ground for nearly three months, has accelerated their journey into retirement, especially as forecasters predict passenger numbers may remain lower than normal for years to come.
BA's predecessor, BOAC, had used the 747 for the first time in 1971, and as with many airlines, the aircraft – affectionately known as either the "jumbo jet" or the "queen of the sky" – became the symbol of the new age of mass travel all over the world Planets.
A BA Boeing 747 flies next to the red arrows during the Royal International Air Tattoo in Fairford, Gloucestershire, in July 2019
However, the days are numbered in the face of new, modern and fuel efficient aircraft like the Airbus A350 and Boeing's 787.
More than 1,500 jumbos have been made by Boeing and it has historically been a commercial success for the manufacturer and airlines.
But its heyday was long ago and any sight of the jet with its distinctive hump on top is now a rarity. It is believed that only 30 of the aircraft are now in service and another 132 are in storage.
British Airways' 747-400s have a capacity of 345 passengers and can reach a top speed of 614 mph.
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