British Airways retires first of the last 31 B-747

British Airways on Tuesday retired its first of the last 31 B-747s in line with its last month’s announcement to phase out all 31 of its jumbo jets from its fleet.

The Boeing 747-400 with registration no G-CIVD, embarked on its last flight from London Heathrow on August 18 morning under flight number BA9170E after more than 25 years of flying.

Video of departure

“The aircraft received an emotional farewell from the NATS Air Traffic Control Tower at Heathrow Airport,” British Airways said in a statement.

British Airways’ said its fleet of 747s are being retired at an accelerated rate as a result of the “devastating impact the Covid-19 pandemic” has had on the airline and the aviation sector, which is not predicted to recover to 2019 levels until at least 2024.

Al Bridger, Director of Flight Operations, British Airways’in a statement said, “All of us at British Airways and so many of our customers will have fond memories and special moments from our travels on the iconic jumbo jet.”

“As a pilot who was lucky enough to fly the aircraft, the sheer scale of it was unforgettable, you literally looked down on other aircraft. It changed aviation forever when it arrived in the skies and I know I speak for our customers and the global aviation community when I say, despite rightly moving to more sustainable ways of flying, we will still miss the 747 dearly.”

The aircraft had entered service on December 14, 1994. With 4 Rolls-Royce RB211-524 engines, it had a top speed of 565 mph and take off speed of 180mph. Its length was 70.6m, Height: 19.41m, Wingspan: 64.4m. With an weight 184 tonnes, it had maximum take-off weight of 378 tonnes.

It had flown 115,276.8 hours, undertook 13,364 flights and flew over 50 million miles.

The 747 has been an iconic part of British Airways’ fleet for nearly fifty years. At one point the airline operated 57 of the aircraft, with the jumbo jet’s first flight to New York in 1971.

The fuel-hungry aircraft were slowly being phased out by British Airways as they reached the end of their working life in order to help meet the company’s commitment to net zero by 2050, the airline said.

The airline has invested in new, modern long-haul aircraft including six A350s and 32 787s which are around 25% more fuel-efficient than the 747.

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