It’s a gigantic building. If you want to walk around it, it takes 40 minutes. It is 492 meters long from north to south and 1067 meters long from east to west. And it towers 35 meters in the air. This makes the Boeing factory in Everett the largest in the world in terms of volume.
It was built in just 14 months in the mid-1960s. On April 13, 1966, Boeing had announced that it would launch the 747. And for the big new aircraft, the aircraft manufacturer needed a new, large factory. The choice of location fell on Everett near Seattle.
In May 1967 the first workers moved into the building. And 16 months later, the first plane was ready – and thousands of employees and onlookers watched as the first Boeing 747 rolled out of the Everett plant. Just as many came on February 9, 1969, when she first took off. The spectacle was repeated on Tuesday (January 31, 2023).
Again, around 9,000 people traveled to the factory, 45 kilometers north of Seattle. For the very last time, the plane with the hump was in the limelight. In a festive ceremony, Boeing celebrated the delivery of the last Boeing 747 to the customer Atlas Air, which will operate it on behalf of the Swiss-German logistics giant Kuehne Nagel.
Current and former employees came to the celebration, as well as delegates from operators who came to witness the historic moment. Because the Boeing 747 was not only built for 55 years and is therefore already extraordinary. It is also an iconic aircraft that evokes special emotions in many people.
“This product is second to none,” Boeing CEO David Calhoun said to the 9,000 spectators at the Everett factory. And just like in 1966 with the development of the Boeing 747, groundbreaking innovations will continue to be used in the future. “Our hangars are full of innovations,” says Calhoun.
Customers also had their say. “The Boeing 747 shaped UPS,” said Bill Moore, head of maintenance at the logistics group. You made it possible to set up a global network and today you are one of the largest operators of the jumbo jet.
John Dietrich, head of the American cargo airline Atlas Air, saw things the same way. “We started in 1992 with a Boeing 747,” he said to those present. Today they own 56 copies – more than any other operator. There is simply no better freighter. “The Boeing 747 has a high payload, a good range and nose loading is unmatched,” said Dietrich.
The last Boeing 747 bears the registration number N863GT and went to Atlas Air. It will leave Everett on February 1 and will fly goods from Asia to North America for the Kuehne Nagel subsidiary Apex Logistics from mid-February.
Around 350 examples of the legendary aircraft model are still active today. And Boeing’s in-house historian Michael Lombardi is convinced that the jumbo jet will be seen in the sky for a long time to come. “A few Boeing 747s will still see the centenary,” he says. Freighters in particular could still be flying in 2069, when the first flight marks its 100th anniversary, he believes.
This article was written by Stefan Eiselin
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The original of this post “Farewell to the “Queen of the Skies”: Last Boeing 747 delivered” comes from aeroTelegraph.