The Boeing 747, affectionately known as the “Queen of the Skies”, was a mainstay in the passenger travel industry for nearly 50 years. Over the years, due to the introduction of more cost efficient airplanes, the queen has slowly been retired from passenger service. The reduced demand caused Boeing to cease production of the aircraft.
Most of the 747s in service are used as cargo aircraft. To that point, Atlas Air Worldwide announced it ordered four new, and the last to be produced, Boeing 747-8 freighters. These airplanes are scheduled to be delivered in 2022 to further the company’s strategic growth plan. Atlas states its business model provides the flexibility to operate these new aircraft for customers or even take advantage of dry-leasing opportunities through its Titan Aviation Leasing subsidiary.
Atlas’ press release continues, “the Boeing 747-8 freighter is the most capable, technologically advanced and environmentally conscious widebody freighter. The 747-8F provides 20% higher payload capacity and 16% lower fuel consumption than the very capable 747-400F, and has 25% higher capacity than the new-technology 777-200LRF. It is also the only factory-built freighter with nose-loading capability in production, which will serve the long-term needs of the airfreight market. Atlas is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 747 freighter aircraft, with a total of 53 in its current fleet, including 10 747-8Fs, 34 747-400Fs, five passenger 747-400s, and four Large Cargo Freighters”.
The company began operating, 28 years ago, with a single 747 aircraft. It is really awesome they will get the last four production 747s. Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes stated, “With the global air cargo fleet expected to grow by more than 60% over the next 20 years, we look forward to delivering these airplanes and supporting Atlas Air’s Boeing fleet well into the future.”
I was so sad when the passenger airlines retired their 747s because I had only flown (prior to the blog) First Class in a United Airlines’ 747-400. The aircraft was interior was bulky, old, and everything I love about airplanes. I enjoyed flying on MD-80s, 767s, or any other aging fleet. Since it is very hard to fly on a 747 nowadays, I am resigned to staring at the B74 filter on FlightRadar24.
(featured image courtesy of Atlas Air)