Boeing Delivers Last-Ever 747 Jumbo Jet After 55 Years

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Boeing delivered its last iconic 747 jumbo jet plane after 55 years Tuesday, marking the end of an era in the world of air travel.

In a ceremony at the company’s factory just north of Seattle, thousands of workers and industry leaders from across the globe joined Boeing executives to bid a final farewell to the iconic airplane that “revolutionized travel,” serving not just as a passenger aircraft but a cargo plane, a transport for NASA space shuttles and even the presidential transportation method of choice in its role as Air Force One, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

“The 747 is a symbol for many, many things, and above all, I think it’s a symbol for the world, which the 747 has made substantially smaller,” Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said, according to CNN.

Since roughly 2008 Boeing has been manufacturing more fuel-efficient and wider-bodied planes that use just two engines, as opposed to the 747’s four, AP noted. (RELATED: British Airways Announces Retirement Of Boeing 747)

“If you love this business, you’ve been dreading this moment. Nobody wants a four-engine airliner anymore, but that doesn’t erase the tremendous contribution the aircraft made to the development of the industry or its remarkable legacy,” aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia told AP.

The very first 747 was manufactured in the massive, still unfinished Everett factory, according to AP. The groundbreaking jet was built by more than 50,000 workers in less than 16 months in an effort that earned the engineers the nickname “The Incredibles.” The original 747 took its first flight in February 1969, CNN reported.

Desi Evans, 92, was part of the effort to build the first 747 and was in attendance at Tuesday’s ceremony. “When that very first 747 rolled out, it was an incredible time. You felt elated — like you’re making history. You’re part of something big, and it’s still big, even if this is the last one,” he told AP.

Boeing announced it would cease production of the 747 in July 2020. Forty-four remained in passenger service as of December 2022, CNN reported, citing aviation analytics company Cirium. The final plane unveiled Tuesday was the 1,574th built by Boeing in the Seattle area, and is destined to be a cargo carrier for Atlas Air, according to AP.