The last Boeing 747 has left the factory. For over a half-century, the distinctive humped silhouette of the world’s first widebody airliner has been an iconic symbol of both Boeing and the commercial aviation industry. From its decades of service in the fleets of several major airlines to its use (in its VC-25 variant) as Air Force One, the 747 is universally recognizable, even by those who have never flown on the partial double-deck aircraft.
Tuesday night, the final Boeing 747 rolled out of the Boeing Everett Factory in the State of Washington. The 747-8 Freighter will go through several test flights before being delivered to Atlas Air next month. The last 747 being a cargo jet is symbolic of the industry’s current direction. Boeing and its competitors are primarily focused on building more and more fuel-efficient airliners as passenger air carriers shift to offering more low-capacity nonstop services.
Kim Smith, Boeing Vice President and General Manager, 747 and 767 Programs, said, “For more than half a century, tens of thousands of dedicated Boeing employees have designed and built this magnificent airplane that has truly changed the world. We are proud that this plane will continue to fly across the globe for years to come.”
While production might be ending for the Boeing 747, many airlines still have the legendary aircraft in passenger service. German flag carrier Lufthansa is remodeling the cabins of its 19 Boeing 747-8s. As aging planes are retired, the widebody airliners might become fewer in number in the coming years. There will still be 747s in our skies for the foreseeable future.