British Airways said goodbye to the last of its Boeing 747s at Heathrow on Thursday (8 October), the good news being that with the pandemic, and the airport not busy, it was able to wave off G-CIVB and G-CIVY in a proper manner. The Jumbos made a synchronised dual take off on parallel runways.
G-CIVB is now at St Athans BA engineering base waiting for a home to be found but sadly G-CIVY is at Kemble Airfield waiting to be broken up. No fare paying passengers on the flights probably due to insurance and certification problems.
The Boeing 747-100 made its maiden take-off on 9 February 1969, the same year as Concorde, with the first flight of a BOAC Jumbo 14 April 1971. British Airways took delivery of its initial 747-400 in July 1989 and the last in April 1999. It was once the largest series 400 operator in the world with 57.
In all some 1,571 Boeing 747s have been delivered with outstanding orders for 15, all freighters, plus a possible two as Air Force One.
Variants have included the original 100 series with Pratt & Whitney engines, the 200 model offering with Rolls-Royce and General Electric power, and the highly successful 400 series. Modified versions have included the Dreamlifter and a Shuttle Carrier. The stretched 747- 8i was the last passenger variant with Korean Air and Lufthansa the final customers.
In 1991, a record-breaking 1,087 passengers were airlifted aboard an El Al 747 to Israel as part of Operation Solomon with Jewish refugees from Ethiopia. Generally, the 747-400 held between 416-524 passengers.