Inevitably, the Queen of the Skies is winding down from regular commercial service. EVA Air, one of the few remaining Boeing 747 operators, is retiring the freighter variant from its Taipei to Los Angeles, officially ending the aircraft type’s service for the company.
EVA took delivery of its first Boeing 747-400 on Nov. 2, 1992. It used that airplane to launch Taipei to Los Angeles service on Dec.12, 1992, the carrier’s first North American route. EVA also launched the airline industry’s first international premium economy class cabin with that flight.
This last aircraft, bearing the registration number B-16407, was delivered new to EVA on Nov. 1, 1992. After its retirement from passenger service, it was sent to IAI-Bedek, an Israeli company specialized in aircraft conversions, in 2007. After that conversion work, the variant denomination changed to Bedek Designed Special Freighter (BDSF).
The aircraft is soon to be replaced by another Boeing 777F, the twin-engined widebody that is currently the biggest aircraft in production by the American manufacturer. As part of the airline’s total fleet renewal effort, the 777-300ER overtook the 747 on passenger routes in August 2018. EVA Air received its first 777 Freighter in November 2017.
The airline keeps fond memories of the 747. When AirlineGeeks asked the company what about the 747 makes it so special to passengers and crews alike, a spokesperson stated: “The Boeing 747-400 reigned as the only commercial jumbo jet in the air for years. Its size and distinctive hump gave it a majesty. Passengers associated it with luxury though it carried most of its passengers in Economy Class. But even at the back of the plane, it felt spacious and passengers and crews alike found it comfortable. With its capacity and longevity, it carried countless travelers and they associated the 747 with wonderful trips.”
As the four-engined jet era is coming to an end, being relieved by cost-efficient twin-jet widebodies, the cargo segment is the last stand for the Boeing 747. History comes with a twist of irony, as the origins of the 747 design kept the cargo capabilities a priority since there were some doubts about the Queen of the Skies’ passenger version’s overall market appeal. Furthermore, the 747 design itself derived from a cargo aircraft that bid for the CX-HLS (Heavy Logistics Support) USAF requirement.
AirlineGeeks received exclusive access by EVA Air to capture the company’s final 747F flight to LAX late Sunday evening.
This story was corrected on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at 7:43 p.m. ET to reflect the proper tail number for the aircraft.
Technology and systems expert, occasional spotter, not-so-dynamic midfielder, blogger, husband, father of three cats; he believes that Latin America's aviation industry past, present, and future offer a lot of stories to be told.
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