Washington: More than half a century since the original jumbo jet ushered in a new jet age, Boeing has bid farewell to its 747 jumbo jets or the ‘Queen of the Skies’.
After 53 years since its first delivery, thousands of the company’s current and former employees and guests attended a ceremony on Tuesday in Everett, Washington, to say goodbye to the 1,574th and last Boeing 747 ever built, reports Xinhua news agency.
After the ceremony, the final 747 freighter built for cargo carrier Atlas Air departed from outside the grand assembly plant purpose-built for the 747 in the late 1960s.
The building housed more jet programs and grew to be the largest by volume in the world.
Boeing Everett at a recent peak in 2012 provided more than 40,000 jobs, according to a report by The Seattle Times.
The late Joe Sutter, the chief engineer on the original programme, was given the task to design a new jet in August 1965.
The first test plane rolled out of the newly built factory in September 1968 and had its first flight in February 1969.
The first production plane was delivered on January 22, 1970.
The final 747-8 passenger version can carry nearly 470 people on trans-Pacific and other longer-haul routes.
Over the past two decades, airlines switched to the more fuel-efficient, two-engined planes, which leads 747 models out of production.
As of December 2022, there are only 44 passenger versions of the 747 still in service, according to aviation analytics firm Cirium.
The figure is down from more than 130 in service as passenger jets at the end of 2019, just before the Covid-19 pandemic crippled demand for air travel, especially on international routes on which the 747 and other widebody jets were primarily used.
Lufthansa remains the largest operator of the passenger version of the B747-8, with 19 in its current fleet.