SEATTLE, Dec. 7 (AP) After more than half a century, Boeing Co. will roll out its final 747 Tuesday from a factory in Washington state.
The jumbo jet, which debuted in 1969, has served as a cargo plane, as a commercial jet carrying nearly 500 passengers and as Air Force One’s presidential plane. It is the largest commercial aircraft in the world and the first to be equipped with two aisles, which still stands taller than most other aircraft.
The 747’s design included a second deck that stretched back from the cockpit into the front third of the plane, giving it a distinctive hump that made the plane instantly recognizable and inspired its nickname, the whale. More elegantly, the 747 is known as the Queen of the Sky.
In less than 16 months, more than 50,000 Boeing employees produced the first 747. Since then, the company has completed 1,573 more.
But over the past 15 years or so, Boeing and its European rival Airbus have released new wide-body planes with two engines instead of the 747’s four. They are more fuel efficient and more profitable.
Delta was the last U.S. carrier to use the 747 for passenger flights, which ended in 2017, although some other international airlines continue to use the 747, including Lufthansa.
The final customer is cargo airline Atlas Air, which ordered four 747-8 Freighters earlier this year. The last one was scheduled to roll out Tuesday evening from Boeing’s massive Everett, Washington, factory.
Boeing has its roots in the Seattle area and has assembly plants in Washington state and South Carolina. The company announced in May that it was moving its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, Virginia.
The move to Washington, D.C., puts executives closer to key federal government officials and the Federal Aviation Administration, which certifies Boeing passenger and cargo planes.
Boeing’s relationship with the FAA has been strained since fatal crashes of its best-selling plane, the 737 Max, in 2018 and 2019. It took the FAA nearly two years — far longer than Boeing expected — to approve the design changes and allow the plane to return to air. (Associated Press)
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