Image credit: Australian Aviation Magazine
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A significant piece of our aviation history flew out of Australia for the last time this week - the QANTAS Boeing 747.
The last of the ‘Flying Kangaroo’ jumbos flew from Sydney to famous aviation resting place the Mojave Desert, though the aircraft will only be there temporarily as it has already been sold to a new owner.
Nonetheless it ends almost 50 years of faithful and reliable service of the remarkable aircraft, which first came into QANTAS 's service in September 1971.
Since then the airline has operated almost every variant of the 747, including the 747 100, the SP, Combi, 747 300, 747 400 and the 400 ER (Extended Range).
Aviation expert and Editor-in-Chief of airlineratings.com Geoffrey Thomas told the National Seniors Connect podcast the aircraft was not supposed to be part of the QANTAS fleet for so many years.
“In the sixties, the world was caught up with the prospect of supersonic travel,” Thomas said.
"So, because the supersonics (such as the Concorde) were going to take over, the idea with the 747 was that it was designed as a giant freighter."
Mr Thomas says this explains the unique shape of the plane.
“The width of the aircraft was governed by the fact it was designed to fit two 20ft shipping containers, side by side."
"In the sixties, the world was caught up with the prospect of supersonic travel. So, the idea with the 747, because the supersonics (such as Concorde) were going to take over, it was designed as a giant freighter.”Aviation expert Geoffret Thomas on the 747
“They put the cockpit above because they wanted to ‘nose load’ it as well,” he told the Connect podcast.
QANTAS expected its four 747s to only be in its passenger fleet for three years before the arrival of QANTAS’s supersonic jets.
Of course, they never materialised and the 747 became the stalwart of the airline.
Before this week’s final flight, QANTAS offered 15-minute joy flights out of Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.
And despite prices starting at $400, the flights sold out in 15 minutes.
Now with the last QANTAS 747 leaving the hangar and Airbus recently announcing the end of production of the even bigger A-380, Geffrey Thomas says it’s the end of the runway for the supersized airliners.
Smaller more efficient jets are what we will be seeing in the skies in the future.
“The QANTAS 787 (Dreamliner)…burns 34 per cent less fuel per passenger than the A-380.”
Hear the full interview about the 747 here.