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

Submitted
Atlanta - The Boeing 747, the world's first jumbo jet and the most recognizable passenger aircraft will pass into aviation history this week. After 50 years after of its debut, the 747 will make its final commercial flight on Tuesday, December 19 with Delta Air Lines from Seoul to Detroit. (airlinerwatch.com) More...

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jwmson
jwmson 14
As I recall, Boeing and Lockheed were in a competition to build a super sized airlifter for the USAF. Boeing came up with a design with a hinged forward nose to raise above a second deck cockpit for easy cargo loading. When the Lockheed C-5 was chosen by the USAF, Boing refined its design into the 747. The rest is history.
maverick49
Tom Novak 4
Wow, I didn't know that. Thanks for the info.
gcezryder
Greg Ryder 1
See my comment from 12/22/17 about Lockheed's L500.
xtoler
Larry Toler 3
Also, because of the high wing of the C5 makes it easier to load and unload cargo and supposedly better field conditions. I believe Lockheed briefly considered a pax version of the C5.
srobak
srobak 1
That is what should have been built as the US version/competition of the A380.
Sopps
Sopps 1
That wasn't the story as Joe Sutter told it, the project started when Pan Am asked for it but I'm sure they tried to shoe horn it into the military contract. But the plane was always designed with cargo in mind, Boeing was convinced super sonic transports were the future and they figured they would sell a few dozen 747s to the airlines and make up the rest of their costs in the cargo market.
skylab72
skylab72 1
Always thought Boeings attempt to join that competition was rather half hearted. They already knew that MIL heavy lift transports needed to be low wing. The clam shell door was targeted at the fledgling package delivery industry.
jbsimms
James Simms 1
Open wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide
bizprop
Roy Troughton 17
Last commercial passenger flight by a US carrier would be a more accurate headline.
dbaker
Daniel Baker 9
It’s hard to ever say “last” for an airplane still in production. Who knows what the future will hold?
jcsjcs
jcsjcs 7
At least "Last commercial 747 passenger flight by a US carrier" would be correct as of now, as opposed to "Last commercial 747 passenger flight in the US". Which isn't correct even now.
acampanella
Yes: Consider the Douglas DC-3. There ares still a few of them flying around.
lettini
Lois Lettini 2
That was the very first airplane I flew from Oshkosh, Wi to ORD in June of 1961. Can still remember the tilt.
pagheca
pagheca 1
they are talking about the 1st series.
ChrisTrott
Chris Trott 4
Still not correct. "Last SCHEDULED passenger flight of a 747-400 by a US Air Carrier" would be pretty close. Atlas Air is operating at least 2 747-400's in Charter Passenger service. At least one of these aircraft is on an NFL contract this year for Arizona and Jacksonville. Delta is also going to continue operating at least 1 747-400 with their Charter Division for the next 12+ months.
dbaker
Daniel Baker 13
The "last commercial flight in the US" except if you fly Asiana, British Airways, China Airlines, El Al, KLM, Lufthansa, or any others who operate the 747-400 to/from the US. Or any airline that buys the 747-8, which is still in production.
pocowok
Jack Tseng 3
It is a “marketing” headline to get our attention. No one would care to read this story otherwise. Bad but works!
shenghaohan
Shenghao Han 4
Germans/Koreans/Chinese still flying those :D
aaronrodgers77
jeff cowen 2
Israel too
jbsimms
James Simms 7
Long live the Queen of the Skies
wopri
Sad to see her go.....
aatonini
alma tonini 1
i Agree it has been the most confortable and safe aircraft to fly on. It’s pity to see it go
Sistema1927
Jerry Minor 4
That article could have used some serious editing.
tnbriggs
Terry Briggs 2
Unfortunately, there exists very little editing these days. Serious editing is nonexistent.
breadley
b oloughlin 1
Edeting n taak 2 tecks sux
B767LongHaul
Capt Ron 2
Incorrect ! !
There are many 747's in commercial service with US carriers still, for example.
Atlas Air, Kalitta, National, Western Global to name a few.
Jaime1949
Jaime Terrassa 2
Flew in one of them from Washington state to Japan great flight sorry to see them go.
zurismith
Zuri Smith 2
That headline is grossly inaccurate. Many carriers are still flying B744 into the US. Just no longer US carriers.
zurismith
Zuri Smith 2
And the 800s, too
andyc852
True for US carriers, but many still operate the 744 and the 747-8 to and from rhe USA
Flyingwulf
Chris Russo 2
Um, yeah... Atlas Air still flies 74's...
Several in Houston, Miami, Mobile, Cincinnati, Alaska... Think someone didn't do their homework.
aaronrodgers77
jeff cowen 2
I was just at Newark two days ago and one was there
mmgeffon
Martin Geffon 2
So sorry to see service end. I was on board the AA inaugural flight from JFK to SFO in first class. What a ride upstairs in the piano bar. Just a little different from today, huh?
GraemeSmith
Graeme Smith 2
Interesting that the story identifies "airport crowding" as a reason for the design. Presumably this meant "too many planes on the ramp". Of course the high capacity planes may have reduced ramp crowding......(well sorta).....but instead has pushed the crowding to gate side. Exacerbated by TSA screening - never designed into many airports - and airline scheduling - wanting to get everyone in and out at peak hours - instead of spreading the flights across all hours.

And ATC privatization will fix this how? It won't. Gateside, TSA and scheduling are the principal causes of delays. And weather.
jgoedker
jgoedker 2
I think point to point is slowly replacing hub and spoke. It's about time! You touched on one factor, and that is "bank Scheduling" and slot operations. The airlines insist on scheduling flights to minimize time between connecting flights. Which meant airports are overwhelmed for a few hours followed by hours of little or no activity. Most aircraft are in flight or on the ground at the same time. Either overwhelming the ground operations or ATC depending on which phase they are in. FAA's temporary fix of landing slots became and remain yet another profit center for airlines to buy and sell as they see fit. As if it were ever theirs to own to own in the first place. Customer convenience is what they try to sell, then demand more and more runways and gates to accommodate this inefficient practice. It's long overdue that the FAA stop this.
bfambrough
Bill Fambrough 3
I remember my first flight on a 747. Pan Am Heathrow to Dulles in July of 1974. Back when flying was pleasant.
jgoedker
jgoedker 2
I recall the day NWA took delivery of the very first -400. One of these very Delta aircraft. It was a proud day to say the least. (Back when pride meant something.) Like all other types, this one met its fate by way of the bean counters calculator. Fuel prices certainly isn't the only factor as prices are now relatively low. Todays airlines are managed totally differently from the day these 400's were delivered. Most aircraft are lease not owned meaning the airlines have little skin in the game. Lease expires? Time to upgrade. Simple as that. The -400 is every bit as viable as it ever was operationally but the total cost of ownership works against it especially with today's low interest rates. So, off it goes to be smelted into a few hundred Ford F150's.
Frosty1025
Frosty1025 1
Mine was JFK to SJU 1970
watkinssusan
so sad to see the "big beautiful birds" go away..some international carriers still use them as do some freighter services,but ual and delta as passenger carriers here kind of makes you nostalgic..American quit using them several years back...
dbaker
Daniel Baker 6
Here's the list of operators that fly 747s to/from/within the US:

ASL Airlines Belgium
Air China
AirBridgeCargo
Asiana
Atlas Air
British Airways
CAL Cargo Airlines
Cargolux Airlines International
Cathay Pacific
China Airlines
China Cargo
Delta
EVA Air
El Al
Emirates
FedEx
KLM
Kalitta Air
Korean Air Lines Co.
Lufthansa
Martinair Holland N.V.
National Cargo
Nippon Cargo
Polar Air Cargo
Qantas
Qatar Airways
Saudia
Silk Way West
Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines Cargo
SkyLease Cargo
Turkish Airlines
United Parcel Service
Virgin Atlantic
Western Global Airlines
Yangtze River Express Airlines
xtoler
Larry Toler 4
Delta was the last US pax airline to use the B747. Of course we will see plenty of UPS 748's soon.
ChrisTrott
Chris Trott 5
Nope. Delta isn't even done with the 747-400 yet either. They will have at least 1 operating with the Charter division for a while, and Atlas has at least 2 pax birds and is bringing online additional aircraft as they continue to expand their passenger charter operation.
8ballair
Bill Rob 3
FedEx does not fly the 747. They inherited 4 with the purchase of TNT but they have had to sell TNT Airways as part of the purchase agreement. UPS recently purchased 14 747-8F aircraft and has begun flying 3 of them in the last few months.
8ballair
Bill Rob 2
The post stated "Here's the list of operators that fly 747s to/from/within the US." FedEx does not operate the 747: http://www.fedex.com/us/charters/airplanes.html

The picture you posted is about 28 years old and is of a 747 acquired through the Flying Tigers acquisition. FedEx let the lease of those aircraft expire and the aircraft was only temporarily in Federal Express livery and operations.
gcheshire
Turkish airlines doesn't fly 747's...
gcheshire
Excuse me, they have 2 cargo 747's...
mattbna
mattbna 1
FedEx? Surely you know better than that, Daniel?

Also, Singapore Airlines flew their last 747-400 passenger flight in 2012.
watkinssusan
mattbna..Daniel had good intentions with his posting,and its easy to verify or check who flies what and where these days..these postings always generate a lot of comments and conversation,which is good,but its time to move on to another article or topic after a week or so of this one dont you think?
mattbna
mattbna 1
It seems that I have caught the attention to the comment section hall monitor? <shrug>

I just got around to reading this post today, so I replied today. Makes absolutely no difference to me how old the post is, and there are no guidelines as to when people should stop responding to a post. Some sites lock down commenting after a long enough period of time of no more replies coming in, but it's certainly not as short as week. Several months is the general rule.

Looking through your comments posted elsewhere, you seem to be rather vocal about how long commenting should be open on these news posts on FlightAware...and you seem to be the only one complaining about it. You've actually e-mailed FlightAware about that? Well, I can tell you that they're not going to redesign the way the comments here work simply because you (specifically) don't like them. You complain that comments "go on and on" on these posts... Well, sure. People are engaged in conversation. That's how it works.

If you have such an issue with it, filter the notifications in to your trash folder so you don't have to see them - or just don't comment on things if you don't want to be receiving reply notifications after the first week. Setting up a filter in your e-mail client to automatically move the comment notification e-mails from FlightAware to the trash shouldn't take more than a few seconds.

I'm well aware of who does and who doesn't fly 747's in to the US and don't need to verify or check that. I'm guessing that Daniel may have seen a chartered 747 that was flying under a FedEx callsign during the Christmas rush...but he should still know better. :)
watkinssusan
matt..and a merry Christmas and happy new year to you as well sir!flight aware, as you im sure understand, is a great site for all things 'aviation" related..certainly the posts and comments can go on "ad infinitum" if people want to stay on just that posted article or topic..topics of interest and related articles do change on a daily basis,and since you have taken the time to check on my previous posts,you also know i have mentioned many websites that deal with newsworthy items and allow comments,do state at a certain point,comments no longer allowed on this topic or similar..that sir, was my sugggestion..are you not being vocal as well by posting criticisms of others who comment??..psss 747 is and was,no matter who flies or does not fly them, a big beautiful bird just saying..
sparkie624
sparkie624 2
Sorry to see them go.... They are by far the Best airliner out there....
srobak
srobak 2
never been on a 77 or 87, eh?
C5PilotGuy
C5PilotGuy 1
Interesting YouTube video https://youtu.be/c26y2-j5KrY
If memory serves me correctly the Boeing SST was in development at the same time and took priority. There is another good piece on the 747, I will share if I can find it.
duane270
Duane Osman 1
First airplane I was ever on was a United 747 from Detroit to LAX. I think 1973?, I due remember the departure was delayed about three hours. Got experience waiting around airports first time out. lol
gcezryder
Greg Ryder 1
Lockheed did some planning for a commercial version of the C5A, planning to call it the L500. A Lockheed exec spoke to a travel class at my college in 1969. It was probably a good thing NOT to have two widebodies battle it out when the public, the travel market, and the airlines didn’t realize what was to come. Look how quickly some of the early 747 customers shed the new “queen” due to overcapacity, etc. Plus, the added competition from Lockheed may have sunken both Boeing and Lockheed. Long live the Queen.
mbazell
mbazell 1
After 20 years flying the "whale" (-100,-200,-300) I say it was the best aircraft ever built. Rugged, efficient, easy to fly, it always got me home thru thick and thin in all kinds of weather around the globe. Way ahead of its time. Now, the next generation B747-8F freighter is taking to the skies and will be around for at least another 30 years.
mecolwell
Isn't Boeing marketing the new 747-8, using newer more efficient engines and composite materials as it's replacement?
jbsimms
James Simms 1
First time was a Northwest Orient military charter from St. Louis to Osan AFB via Oakland & Yokota AFB. OAK to Yokota was a 12+ hour flight w/500 other soldiers & dependants. Next was while on leave from Korea, flying into Bangkok then to the old Kai Tek airport on a Thai International dipping the right wing @ the hard right turn @ the "Checkerboard". Looked out the window into someone's apartment while they were watching their TV. Next was another Northwest 747 leaving Korea to Seattle on my way home for 30 days leave. Last was a redeployment from Saudi Arabia in July 1991 after Desert Storm/Desert Shield on a FedEx ex-Flying Tiger 747 from Dharhan to Philadelphia via Frankfurt
birtsjoe
Joe Birts 1
Still prefer a DC-10!
lbflight
Burke Files 1
British Air still fly 747 to the US, landed last week in Dallas, and the 747 service Denver and Phoenix. I am certain there are more.
TerenceCreighton
Where have those 50 years gone? A good book on this amazing, for its time, aircraft is "Wide Body - the triumph of the 747" by Clive Irving.
acampanella
My first encounter with a 747 was on an Alitalia flight to Rome in 1976 on the way to visit shirt-tail relatives there. Midway in the flight, I strolled over to the stairway to the second level, spoke to the stewardess in Italian, asking permission to ascend the stairs to the cockpit and she said "Si". Up the stairs I went; introduced myself to the pilot noting that I was a private pilot. He spoke enough English to get along, so we engaged in a conversation. He was a salty soul that flew in the Italian Air Force in WWII. We discussed his inertial navigation system and some flying chit-chat. I bid adieu after about 10 unforgettable minutes........
Nostalgia!
vertgreen
Lawrence Green 1
A magnificent history. Certain that 'history' is inevitable and sad at times.
tedrees
Edward Rees 1
The whole article requires proofreading and correction, there must be close to seven hundred and forty seven errors.
jgoedker
jgoedker 2
The only fact that counts is Delta retiring it. A sad day for employees and flight crews. Just another day for the finance department.
srobak
srobak 2
seven hundred and forty-seven. :)
kenkang
Ken Kang 1
I will always remember my flying with the 747
mrlahjr
Louis Holder -5
I wonder if Delta wanting their a 747 to have the last US airline flight is the reason Baltia Alirlnes couldn't get certified

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