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Boeing’s Production of Final 747 Marks End of Era
Earlier this week, the final Boeing 747 ever produced emerged from the paint shop in Portland, Oregon to a flurry of disappointment from aviation enthusiasts and historians alike.
N863GT, the final Boeing 747, rolled out of the assembly line in early December of 2022 to much speculation as to whether or not the aircraft would receive any special markings from Boeing. This aircraft is a special one, as it is the last of its kind. The aviation community got its answer on Tuesday, as N863GT sported no significant lettering or decals.
There are unconfirmed reports on Twitter however saying that a Joe Sutter sticker will be applied to the 747 when the aircraft returns to Everett, Wash. before delivery. While by no means a special livery or even really much commemoration, Boeing honoring Sutter, known as the “father of the Boeing 747” is certainly a nice touch.
The aircraft has been painted in a split livery with one side featuring the aircraft’s owner, Atlas Air’s signature dark blue and yellow scheme while the other side sports Apex Logistics, marking who the aircraft is being operated for. Apex Logistics is owned by Bremen, Germany-based transport giant Kuehne + Nagel.
Additionally, the final Boeing 747’s rollout marks a sort of quiet end to an aircraft that was really the pioneer of commercial aviation, as we know it today. Being able to transport hundreds of passengers at a time between continents at incredible speeds with unparalleled comfort for its time. The first Boeing 747 was rolled out in September of 1968, to a frenzy of fanfare unseen before in commercial aviation. The plant in Everett that was constructed for the 747 productions became the largest building in the world and was expanded to accommodate the production of the Boeing 767, Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
However, the 747 could not last forever. Aviation has changed dramatically in the 50 years since its rollout. The program, which produced a variety of variants in order to keep up with the changing decades, began to be phased out with the success of newer, more efficient types like the Boeing 777, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Airbus A330 and Airbus A350. Airlines liked these types far more, because of their versatility and better fuel efficiency.
In more recent decades, the 747 took on more roles as a cargo workhorse and will likely continue to be one for the coming decades. Production may be over, but it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon though as we saw with COVID-19, the outlook can change very quickly. Perhaps, Atlas Air will choose to honor the final 747 once it takes control of the airframe, but that is unlikely. Regardless, the end of 747 production marks a real end to an era in aviation regarded by many to be one of the most thrilling.
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