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The last Boeing 747 has rolled off the assembly line, ending a more than 5-decade era. See 7 ways things the jumbo jet changed the industry forever.

The first Boeing 747 at the Everett assembly line.The first Boeing 747 at the Everett assembly line.

Bettmann/Contributor via Getty Images

  • Boeing’s last-ever 747 jumbo jet rolled off the assembly line in Everett, Washington, on December 6.
  • The event marks the end of a revolutionary era that changed the way people travel.
  • The enormous plane was a marvel that played many roles, like carrying the space shuttle.
The Boeing 747 is one of the greatest feats of aerospace engineering and was an international success for the American planemaker.British Airways Boeing 747-400.British Airways Boeing 747-400.

Nicolas Economou/Getty Images

Source: Boeing

For over 50 years, the aircraft shuttled travelers to nearly every continent across the globe, connecting people to more places than ever before.Boeing 747.Boeing 747.


Source: Boeing

No longer did customers have to stop for fuel on flights between the US and Asia or Australia — the 747 could operate these routes nonstop.Qantas 747.Qantas used the 747 as its transpacific workhorse.

REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

Airlines have been flying over the Pacific Ocean since the 1930s — here’s how the practice evolved over the years

It wasn’t long before the jumbo jet earned the hearts of airlines and passengers alike, becoming one the most beloved airliners in history and outliving equally popular planes like the Concorde.A BA and AF Concorde pass each other at JFK.A British Airways and an Air France Concorde pass each other at JFK.

Associated Press

The Concorde made its final flight a little more than 16 years ago and supersonic air travel has yet to return — here’s a look back at its awesome history

The jet’s longtime success can be seen in the numbers, with the huge plane shuttling over 5.9 billion people across 75.5 billion miles as of 2020, which is enough to fly to the Moon and back to Earth 137,000 times.Lufthansa 747.Lufthansa is one of the few airlines passengers can still fly on the 747.

Lukas Wunderlich/Shutterstock

Source: Boeing

However, innovations in dual-engine planes over the years made the 747’s four fuel-hungry engines and poor economics unattractive for operators.Boeing 747 engines.

Alexander Sidorov/EyeEm via Getty Images

Source: Insider

What was once a marvel for international transport eventually became a cost liability, and most airlines worldwide have ditched the plane in favor of more efficient jets, like the Boeing 787 or the Airbus A350.Airbus A350-1000.Airbus A350-1000.

Bryan Van Der Beek/Airbus

Even more iconic planes are disappearing from the skies earlier than planned as the coronavirus continues to wreak airline havoc

The coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the problem as carriers were already bleeding cash and needed to let go of expensive assets.Aircraft boneyard Pinal Air Park covid-19Boeing 747’s at Pinal Air Park, which is an aircraft graveyard.

AirlineGeeks/Ryan Ewing

I went inside one of the US’ largest aircraft storage facilities and saw how it isn’t emptying out despite the rise in air travel

As a result, the 747 became a common casualty of COVID-19 as travel demand plummeted, with many airlines, like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways, saying goodbye to the iconic double-decker forever.The last British Airways 747 to take off from London Heathrow.The last British Airways 747 to take off from London Heathrow.

British Airways

The iconic Boeing 747 is disappearing from the British Airways fleet after 49 storied years as the pandemic thrashes the airline industry

Boeing also decided to retire the program, having built over 1,550 jumbos. The final 747 rolled off the assembly line in Everett, Washington, on December 6, and will be delivered to cargo giant Atlas Air.Boeing's last 747 rolling out of the Everett assembly line on Dec 6.Boeing’s last 747 rolled out of the Everett assembly line.

Paul Weatherman/Boeing

Source: CNET, Boeing’s last-ever 747 just rolled off the assembly line, marking the end of an era. Here’s the history of how the revolutionary plane changed the world.

“As we say goodbye to the Queen of the Skies, we’re proud of her legacy as an airplane that propelled aviation innovation and later laid the foundation of our family of freighters,” Boeing 747 and 767 program manager Kim Smith said.Boeing's last 747 rolling out of the Everett assembly line on Dec 6.Boeing’s last 747 rolled out of the Everett assembly line.

Paul Weatherman/Boeing

Source: Atlas Air, Boeing’s iconic 747 will leave the assembly line for the last time this year. See one of last jumbo jets the planemaker will ever build.

Although the 747 is ending its nearly 53-year reign, its revolutionary design changed the industry as we know it. Here are seven things that made the Queen of the Skies truly remarkable.First Boeing 747-8F flight.First Boeing 747-8F flight.


1: The legendary aircraft was built on request by Pan American World Airways founder and CEO Juan Trippe.New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey (right) and Juan Trippe (left) in a Clipper cockpit with their two pilots.New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey (right) and Juan Trippe (left) in a Clipper cockpit with their two pilots.


Source: Northwestern University

At the time, Pan Am was already flying Boeing’s quad-engine 707, which was the company’s first jetliner and ushered in the jet age for air travel.Pan Am Boeing 707Pan Am Boeing 707

ullstein bild Dtl./Getty Images

More airlines are choosing single-aisle jets for flights from North America to Europe — see the full evolution of jet-powered transatlantic flying

But, as demand skyrocketed, the industry needed bigger and better planes that could fly farther than any other commercial aircraft could.Pan Am 747-100.Pan Am 747-100. via Getty Images

Source: Insider

So, Trippe went to Boeing in 1965 and asked for a plane more than twice the size of the 707…Pan Am Boeing 707 and Boeing 747A Pan Am Boeing 707 next to a Pan Am Boeing 747, showing the size difference.

Underwood Archives/Getty Images

Source: Insider

…and it didn’t take much for the manufacturing giant to jump on the opportunity, especially after recently losing out on a contract to build the massive C-5A military transport plane.c-5 galaxyPeople in line to enter the 445th Airlift Wing’s first C-5A Galaxy in 2005

US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Charlie Miller

Source: Boeing

2: The 747 was built by a team of some 50,000 Boeing employees, known as the “Incredibles.”First Boeing 747First Boeing 747 surrounded by employees and other admirers.

-/Getty Images

Source: Boeing

The workers were made up of engineers, mechanics, secretaries, and construction workers, among others, and built the plane in about 16 months in the late 1960s.The first Boeing 747 at the Everett assembly line.The first Boeing 747 at the Everett assembly line.

Bettmann/Contributor via Getty Images

Source: Boeing

“We assembled the first 747 in snowstorms as they were constructing the building around us,” wrote Boeing Incredible Dwight Bates in a 2016 post published on the planemaker’s website.Boeing 747 Factory Tour.Inside the factory in Washington where Boeing built its last Boeing 747s, pictured in June 2022.

Taylor Rains/Insider

Source: Boeing

He explained the conditions of being an Incredible meant sleeping at their desks and working crazy overtime hours. Not to mention, they were under immense pressure after being told they’ll lose the company if they didn’t get the 747 FAA-certified.Boeing Incredibles building Boeing 747s in 1969.Boeing Incredibles building Boeing 747s in 1969.

Bernard Crochet/Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Source: Boeing

Fortunately, their efforts didn’t go to waste. Led by veteran Boeing engineer Joe Sutter, who is known as the “father of the 747,” the iconic plane took its first flight in 1969 and was in commercial service with Pan Am in 1970.The flight crew after the first Pan Am 747 flight from New York to London Heathrow in 1970.The flight crew after the first Pan Am 747 flight from New York to London Heathrow in 1970.

AFP/Stringer via Getty Images

Source: Boeing

3: The 747 was the world’s first widebody passenger aircraft and the first with a partial second level.A United Boeing 747 in the carrier's old livery.A United Boeing 747 in the carrier’s old livery. via Getty Images

Source: Museum of Flight

Boeing created five different 747 variants: the 747-100, 747-200, 747-300, 747-400, and the 747-8, which were bought by dozens of airlines, like Korean Air, Cathay Pacific Airways, and Delta Air Lines.Lineup of Boeing 747s.A lineup of Boeing 747s.

Museum of Flight Foundation/Contributor via Getty Images

Source: Insider

From there, several models of each type were produced, like the 747-400F freighter and the 747-200C convertible, which can be used for both passenger and cargo operations.EVA Air Cargo Boeing 747-400FAn EVA Air Cargo Boeing 747-400F aircraft.


As airlines say goodbye to the legendary Boeing 747 early, the plane still plays a vital role for cargo carriers and is aiding efforts to defeat COVID-19

The planemaker’s largest and highest-performing passenger variant is the 747-8i.A Boeing 747-8i.A Boeing 747-8i.

Stephen Brashear/Stringer via Getty Images

Source: NerdWallet

Powered by four General Electric engines, it can reach speeds of about 660 miles per hour and fly up 8,895 miles. This means the plane can zoom across three FIFA soccer fields in one second.A Lufthansa Boeing 747-8i engine.A Lufthansa Boeing 747-8i engine.

Stephen Brashear/Stringer via Getty Images

Source: Boeing

The advanced specs have come a long way since Boeing’s first 747-100, which could only fly up to 602 miles per hour across about 5,300 miles.An Iran Air Boeing 747-100.An Iran Air Boeing 747-100.

SOPA Images/Contributor via Getty Images

Source: Simple Flying

But, the original variant’s innovative widebody design paved the way for high capacity, with Pan Am’s carrying 347 people. The 747-8i, by comparison, can accommodate up to 467 passengers in three classes.Inside Lufthansa's Boeing 747-8i.Inside Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-8i.

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Source: Simple Flying

Not only did the jet feature revolutionary performance and seating, but it also came with a unique “hump” that made it easily recognizable by travelers.Maiden flight of the 747-8i.Maiden flight of the 747-8i.

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Source: Smithsonian Magazine

Boeing created the iconic hump on the 747 because Trippe didn’t think the plane would be a commercial hit and wanted it to be easily converted into a freighter.Boeing 747 Factory Tour.A Boeing 747 freighter being built in Washington in June 2022.

Seattle Times

Source: Smithsonian Magazine

This meant the nose needed to be able to open, which made this an unfavorable place to put the cockpit. So, Boeing moved the flight deck higher up, which also contributed to better aerodynamics.Boeing 747-400 cargo loading.Boeing 747-400 cargo loading.

Davide Calabresi/Shutterstock

Source: Smithsonian Magazine

Over time, the upper deck has grown to create more room for first and business class seats and amenities.First Class BOAC Boeing 747First class passengers in a BOAC Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet are served lunch.

Fox Photos/Getty Images

Source: Insider

The only other commercial airliner to truly compete with the Queen of the Skies was the Airbus A380, which had a second level that stretched the full length of the jet.An Emirates Airbus A380.An Emirates Airbus A380.

Arnold Aaron/

Emirates wants Airbus to build a new version of its A380 jet. See the full history of the superjumbo jet from marvel to reject.

The mammoth plane can carry up to 545 people in four classes and became a workhorse for airlines like Emirates, complete with a shower spa onboard for first class passengers.Inside the cabin of the A380.Inside the cabin of a Lufthansa A380, which can carry up to 853 passengers in a maximum capacity layout.


Source: Airbus, Emirates is bringing its redesigned Airbus A380 with premium economy seating and upgrades in every cabin to the US — see inside

However, the superjumbo has also met its own end, with Airbus ending production in 2021 and airlines worldwide speeding up the A380’s retirement during the pandemic.Air France Airbus A380Air France retired its A380s during the pandemic.


Source: Reuters

This was particularly due to its inefficient four engines — similar to the 747’s downfall.A380 engines.


Double-decker planes are going extinct as Airbus and Boeing discontinue their largest models. Here’s why airlines are abandoning 4-engine jets.

4: The revolutionary Queen of the Skies made international travel accessible for more than just the rich and famous.Lufthansa Boeing 747-8i flight deck.Lufthansa Boeing 747-8i flight deck.

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Source: Smithsonian Magazine

The 747 was considered a step up from the 707 with its size, range, and low operating costs, which are thanks to its more powerful bypass engines that could reduce fuel consumption by 33% compared.The TWA "Star of Paris" Boeing 747 after it landed at Orly airport in 1970.The TWA “Star of Paris” Boeing 747 after it landed at Orly airport in 1970.

-/AFP via Getty Images

Source: Deutsche WelleSmithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Airline Ratings

And, because the jet could carry twice as many people compared to its predecessor, airlines could reduce fares without sacrificing passenger comfort.Lufthansa Boeing 747-8i economy.Lufthansa Boeing 747-8i economy. Airlines can fit 10-abreast rows on the plane.

Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Source: Smithsonian Magazine, Airlines Ratings

This effectively changed the way people fly, and for the first time allowed those who couldn’t afford a seat on the 707 to travel to places that were previously unreachable.Passengers inside the cabin of a 747 in 1970.Passengers inside the cabin of a 747 in 1970.

Gerhard Rauchwetter/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Source: Smithsonian Magazine

5: The double-decker plane featured bars and lounges on its upper level, which was accessed via a staircase.A BOAC air hostess greets a passenger in front of a spiral staircase which leads to the upper deck lounge in a Boeing 747 Monarch.A BOAC air hostess greets a passenger in front of a spiral staircase which leads to the upper deck lounge in a Boeing 747 Monarch

Fox Photos/Getty Images

Source: Executive Traveller

In the early days of the jet age, flying was often a high-class experience with travelers dressing up for the occasion.Interior of a British European Airways' Vickers airliner showing the passenger section.Interior of a British European Airways’ Vickers airliner showing the passenger section.

Fox Images/Getty Images

THEN AND NOW: Photos that show how glamorous flying used to be

Through the 1960s, airlines started playing around with different cabin ideas, like business and economy, and some carriers decided to use the 747’s upper level as an exclusive space reserved for premium customers.Lufthansa 747 lounge.Lufthansa 747 lounge.

Hutmacher/ullstein bild/Getty

Pan Am’s first 747 had a “restaurant in the sky” for first class passengers who could sit at four-person tables with friends or strangers.Inside the Pan Am 747 lounge.

Bettmann/Contributor via Getty Images

Source: Executive Traveller, Photos show the glory days of Pan Am, a symbol of a bygone era of luxurious air travel before the airline went bust 29 years ago

Meanwhile, Australian flag carrier Qantas had the Captain Cook Lounge in its 747’s upper deck where premium flyers could relax, drink, or read a newspaper.Qantas' Captain Cook Lounge.


Source: Qantas

6: Boeing built several specially-modified 747s to transport the space shuttle, the president, and parts of other commercial aircraft.Boeing 747 Dreamlifter

Thiago B Trevisan /

Source: Boeing

Probably the most impressive feat is the two 747-100s that National Aeronautics and Space Administration asked Boeing to convert into Space Carrier Aircraft.Boeing's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.


Source: NASA

The planes — one from American Airlines and the other from Japan Airlines — carried the shuttles from their landing sites to the Kennedy Space Center, and to other locations that were too far to travel by ground transport.Boeing's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.


Source: NASA

The modified jets had three strong rods protruding from the top, which is where the orbiters were attached.Boeing's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.


Source: NASA

Moreover, most of the cabin was gutted, the pilots had special monitoring systems for the shuttle, and two extra vertical stabilizers were added to enhance the 747’s “directional stability.”Boeing's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.


Source: NASA

Another non-commercial use for the jumbo jet is presidential transport.Air Force One.


Source: Boeing

While the 707 had the job for nearly 30 years, two 747-200B variants were modified in 1990 to create Air Force One.Air Force One as a Boeing 707 carrying Eisenhower in 1959.Air Force One as a Boeing 707 carrying Eisenhower in 1959.

Terry Fincher/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Source: Boeing

Having carried presidents like George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama, the plane can refuel midair and is considered a flying Oval Office with myriad office and conference space, as well as staterooms.air force onePresident Barack Obama talks on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aboard Air Force One en route to New Orleans, La., Nov. 8, 2013.

The White House

31 photos that show how Air Force One has changed through the years

However, both VIP jets are being upgraded to the more efficient and longer-ranged 747-8i variant, though they will not be able to refuel in the air and the timeline for delivery has been pushed from 2024 to potentially 2028.Trump exiting Air Force One.Trump exiting Air Force One.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Source: DefenseOne, Boeing’s new Air Force One jets are so late that the old ones may need to keep flying until 2028, costing taxpayers $340 million: report

The jet is one of the biggest cargo planes in the world due to its oversized fuselage and was designed to transport 787 parts — like the wings — between global assembly lines.Boeing 747 DreamlifterWings being loaded into a Dreamlifter.


Source: Boeing

Specifically, the four-strong fleet each has 65,000 cubic meters of capacity, where oversized cargo is loaded through the giant plane’s swing-tail door.Boeing 747 Dreamlifter

Robert Sorbo/Reuters

Source: Insider

While Boeing’s primary customer of the Dreamlifter is itself, it was also used during the pandemic to transport COVID-related supplies, like face shields, protective eye goggles, and masks.Boeing Dreamlifter COVID-19 cargoAtlas Air operated the special mission.


Source: Boeing

7: The 747 is one of the only cargo aircraft with the ability to load freight directly through its nose.Atlas Air 747-8 cargo loading.Atlas Air 747-8 cargo loading.

Thomas Frey/picture alliance via Getty Images

Source: Boeing

The door reduces load time for carriers as they can also simultaneously load from the back of the jet, but also allows for oversized items to be loaded without first being dismantled.Boeing 747 cargo hold.Boeing 747 cargo hold.


Source: Insider

Airbus’ Beluga, Ukraine’s Antonov An-124, and the US Air Force’s C-5 Galaxy cargo planes also have nose doors, but they are not widely used by multiple global carriers as the 747 is.Antonov An-124 RuslanThe Antonov An-225 was the world’s largest cargo plane with nose-loading capabilities, but it was destroyed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian Defense Ministry/TASS/Getty

The Ukrainian manufacturer of the world’s largest plane says rebuilding it would cost $3 billion. See the full history of the famous six-engine jet that was destroyed.

However, with the production of the 747 complete, the nose-loading perk with be missed as more cargo carriers ditch the jet for better cost-efficient aircraft.Air France A350F rendering.Air France A350F rendering.


Boeing ending production of the 747 means cargo carriers will lose a key feature and be left scrambling when it’s gone

“The nose loader for oversized freight is what makes her so unique and capable to transport things other planes can’t,” a 747 cargo pilot told Insider in 2020.Qatar Airways Cargo Boeing 747-8FA Qatar Airways Boeing 747-8F.

Elaine Thompson/AP

Boeing just unveiled the freighter variant of its new flagship 777X jet as cargo demand continues to skyrocket — take a look at the massive plane

Not only will cargo operators miss the beloved 747, but so will passengers.BOAC Boeing 747BOAC Boeing 747

Keystone/Getty Images

Ameer Junejo, who manages a 747 converted into a hotel in Sweden, told Insider that the jet has “memories,” saying pilots and couples visit his site to reminisce about their days onboard.Lufthansa 747.Lufthansa is one of the few airlines passengers can still fly on the 747.

Lukas Wunderlich/Shutterstock

While it is much harder these days to fly on the jumbo jet, several can still be explored as tourist attractions, like Delta Air Lines’ 747 Museum in Atlanta, Georgia…Delta Flight Museum 747.Delta Flight Museum 747.

Delta Air Lines

Check out these 6 retired Boeing 747 jumbo jets that have been converted into flightless tourist attractions and entertainment venues

…and the flightless British Airways 747 “party plane” in England.British Airways 747 "party plane" in England.British Airways 747 “party plane” in England.

Negus 747

A retired British Airways Boeing 747 was bought for $1.35 by an English airport and converted into a flightless ‘party plane’ event space — see inside the renovated Queen of the Skies

Read the original article on Business Insider