A Boeing 747 built for private use as a business jet is being scrapped. Despite leaving the assembly plant in Everett, Washington over a decade ago, this specific 747 had just over 50 flight hours. Life for the gigantic aircraft that have graced our skies hasn’t been easy since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020. The aviation industry was already trending towards phasing out planes like the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380 before 2020, but the drastic shift in market forces has hastened this transition. However, this private jumbo jet had a unique route to being scrapped in an Arizona boneyard.
Simple Flying reports the Boeing 747-8BBJ was built and made its first flight in 2012. The Saudi Arabian government ordered the 747, and the plane was delivered to the Saudi Arabian Royal Flight Group. As the name implies, the Saudi Royal Flight operates the private air fleet of the royal family of Saudi Arabia. The 747-8BBJ was intended for Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. According to AVweb, the prince never flew on the opulent airliner because he died in 2011 as the 747’s interior was being fitted.
Without its primary passenger, the Saudi Arabian Royal Flight Group never put the Boeing 747-8BBJ in service. The basically brand-new plane was flown to EuroAirport Basel and sat in Switzerland for a decade with only 42 flight hours. During that time span, no buyers for this unique aircraft were found, and the decision was made to scrap the plane.
It can be confirmed through publicly available flight-tracking resources that the Boeing 747-8BBJ in service made its final flight in April from EuroAirport Basel to Pinal Airpark in Marana, Arizona. N458BJ was the aircraft’s registration number. While creating a historical record of an aircraft’s life, civil aviation authorities require these unique codes to track planes for safety and identification reasons. For example, N628TS is the registration number of the 2015 Gulfstream G650ER owned by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.