End of an era: Boeing 747 takes its last commercial flight in the US


Atlanta - The Boeing 747, the world's first jumbojet and the most recognizable passenger aircraft will pass into aviation history this week.

After 50 years of its debut, the 747 will make its final commercial flight on Tuesday, December 19 with Delta Air Lines from Seoul to Detroit.

The 747 made flying available for everyone. It gave wings to the world,
said Michael Lombardi, the company historian of Boeing.

Delta's farewell for the iconic superjumbo also includes a special flight on Wednesday, December 14 for the company employees and top customers of Delta.

Although this is the last commercial flight of the Boeing 747 with a US carrier, the aircraft will still be in service for Lufthansa, British Airways, and Korean Air Lines.

Moreover, Boeing will still be building the superjumbo as freight carrier for freighter operators across the world and the US presidential aircraft, which has been used as "Air Force One" since 1990.

The American manufacturer is shifting to more fuel-efficient models for commercial use.

The origin of the 747 dates back to the early 1960s when Boeing's chief Bill Allen came up with an idea to build a bigger plane to address the growing problem of airport crowding.

747 First Flight
A Boeing 747 during one of its first flights on February 19, 1969

Although Boeing considered a double-decker aircraft from the very beginning, the airline operators concluded that it would be difficult to evacuate passengers in case of an emergency.

Besides trying to convince potential buyers about the benefits of a double-decker superjumbo, next challenge for Boeing was to commit enough resources to the program at a time while conducting other aircraft development programs such as the 707 and the 727.

Boeing built a new assembly plant in the northwest of Washington state to overcome the construction capacity problem and started the program despite the risks of launching such a huge and expensive project.

Since its debut in February 1969, more than 1500 747s have been delivered to the airline operators across the world, and 500 are still in service, according to Flightglobal data.

Its distinctive hump upper deck makes the 747 the world's most recognizable aircraft.