The last Boeing 747 to ever be built has changed hands in front of thousands of people who wanted to say goodbye to the iconic widebody plane. Customers, suppliers, celebrities, as well as current and former employees — including the original staff known as the "Incredibles" who built the first 747 — gathered at the company's Everett factory to witness Boeing delivering the plane to Atlas Air Worldwide. The event marks the plane's end of production since it was first built in 1967.
Boeing revealed back in 2020 that it was going to retire the model in a couple of years after it was done building the last orders for it. The 747 was one of the most famous four-engine widebody jets in the world and revolutionized air travel by doubling passenger capacity and thereby lowering the price of each seat. During the peak of its popularity in 1990, Boeing delivered 70 units in a single year. But like most older technologies, it eventually took a backseat to some of the company's newer jets, particularly its two-engine planes that can fly the same routes but can use fuel more efficiently.
As Reuters notes, the company only delivered five 747s in 2022, though the whole program itself produced 1,574 jets. The last planes Boeing delivered, including this one, will be used to transport cargo in the years to come. Yes, we won't be seeing any new 747 anymore, but Bloomberg says the orders delivered for freighter use could be around until the 2050s.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said in a statement:
"This monumental day is a testament to the generations of Boeing employees who brought to life the airplane that 'shrank the world,' and revolutionized travel and air cargo as the first widebody. It is fitting to deliver this final 747-8 Freighter to the largest operator of the 747, Atlas Air, where the 'Queen' will continue to inspire and empower innovation in air cargo."
Kim Smith, Boeing's VP and general manager for the 747 and 767 programs, revealed that the model's production line shut down as workers finished building different parts for the last plane. Employees who worked on in the factory have now been transferred to other programs or have voluntarily retired.