Queen of the Skies off to junk­yard

Im­mi­nent ar­rival of first Dream­liner air­craft clears air­line to phase out last of its beloved jumbo jets

Weekend Herald - - NEWS - Grant Bradley grant. bradley@ nzher­ald. co. nz 1968: 1970: 1971: 1975: 1981: 1985: 1987: 1993: 2006: 2007: Last month:

an­tas is about to take de­liv­ery of the first of its new Dream­lin­ers, al­low­ing the air­line to keep phas­ing out an old favourite — the jumbo jet.

The old­est of the air­line’s Boe­ing 747s has re­cently been sent to the air­craft “bone­yard” but oth­ers will re­main in ser­vice into next decade.

The air­line has 10 Queens of the Skies still fly­ing and one helped out dur­ing last month’s fuel cri­sis in Auck­land.

The “fuel mule” trans­ferred fuel to other Qantas planes on the tar­mac at Auck­land Air­port.

Qantas jumbo jets sup­ple­mented other ser­vices to fly thou­sands of Lions fans to New Zealand from Aus­tralia dur­ing the tour ear­lier this year.

Qantas will next week take de­liv­ery of the first of eight 787- 9 air­craft from Boe­ing in Seat­tle, with new fleet ad­di­tions al­low­ing it to con­tinue with re­tir­ing its jum­bos.

Can­cel­la­tions and de­fer­rals of its Dream­liner or­ders meant the air­line had kept its jum­bos longer but they have had in­te­ri­ors mod­ernised and a fall in fuel prices dur­ing the past two years meant the air­craft, which could guz­zle 10 tonnes of gas an hour, were not the eco­nomic drain they may have been.

The 747s first joined the Aus­tralian air­line’s fleet in Septem­ber 1971, and they be­came the pin­na­cle of lux­ury travel.

Decades be­fore bars in Air­bus A380 su­per­jum­bos were in­tro­duced, Qantas had the Cap­tain Cook lounge.

The air­line’s sha­gadelic up­stairs space had seat­ing for 15 pas­sen­gers, a stand- up bar and decor the air­line ad­mits now “should have come with a vol­ume con­trol”.

There were images of James Cook, a sex­tant, a ship’s wheel, replica lanterns and rope used to give the im­pres­sion pas­sen­gers were seated in­side a replica sail­ing ship rather than a brand- new wide­body jet. It also had ash­trays. The lounge was re­placed with seats when the price of fuel went up dur­ing the decade.

In 1974 Qantas set a then world record for car­ry­ing the most pas­sen­gers when it evac­u­ated 673 peo­ple on a 747 flight from Dar­win af­ter the city was dev­as­tated by Cy­clone Tracy.

The air­line has op­er­ated 65 jum­bos and the old­est of its fleet was re­tired to the Mo­jave desert in Cal­i­for­nia early in Au­gust. The air­craft, VHOJM, was de­liv­ered new to Qantas in 1991 and car­ried more than four mil­lion peo­ple around the world. It flew to cities such as Lon­don, San­ti­ago, Jo­han­nes­burg and Tokyo, and the air­line es­ti­mates it trav­elled the equiv­a­lent of fly­ing to the moon and back 120 times.

Air New Zealand re­tired the last of its Jum­bos in 2014 and this year US car­ri­ers Delta Air Lines and United Air­lines will re­tire their 747s.

There have been more than 1500 jum­bos built for air­lines around the world and they’ve been an enor­mous com­mer­cial suc­cess but the 747 was one of Boe­ing’s big­gest gam­bles.

Spurred by los­ing a con­tract for the US mil­i­tary’s next gi­ant trans­port air­craft, Boe­ing turned to its civil di­vi­sion to re­vive its for­tunes.

En­cour­aged by a grow­ing ap­petite for long- haul travel and sealed with a com­mit­ment by Pan Am to buy 25 planes, Boe­ing ex­ec­u­tives bet their fu­ture on what was to be­come the most recog­nised plane in the world.

They com­mit­ted more than the value of the com­pany to de­vel­op­ing the 747 and a fac­tory big enough to build it in. Work on clear­ing wooded hill coun­try at Everett, north of Seat­tle, be­gan in 1966 and just two years later the first pro­to­type was wheeled out of what was the big­gest build­ing in the world.

Tens of thou­sands of con­struc­tion work­ers, me­chan­ics, engi­neers, Pan Aman­nounces US$ 525 mil­lion or­der for 25 Boe­ing 747s, ef­fec­tively start­ing the pro­gramme First 747- 100 leaves the fac­tory 747- 100 en­ters com­mer­cial ser­vice Qantas takes de­liv­ery of its first jumbo 747 world­wide fleet car­ries 100 mil­lionth pas­sen­ger First Air NZ 747- 200, named Aotea, ar­rives from Boe­ing 520 peo­ple die af­ter a Ja­pan Air Lines 747 hits a moun­tain. It is the worst sin­gle air­craft ac­ci­dent death toll At­tempted hi­jack­ing of an Air NZ 747 at Nadi thwarted when a cabin crew mem­ber strikes the hi­jacker on the head with a whisky bot­tle Boe­ing de­liv­ers 1000th 747, to Sin­ga­pore Air­lines Lufthansa be­comes first air­line to or­der 747- 8 In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Or­ders for Boe­ing 747 ex­ceed Qantas uses 747 as a “fuel mule” dur­ing Re­fin­ing NZ cri­sis sec­re­taries and ad­min­is­tra­tors who made avi­a­tion his­tory were known as The In­cred­i­bles.

Pan Am made the first com­mer­cial flight be­tween New York and Lon­don in Jan­uary 1970 and be­gan a rev­o­lu­tion in air travel. The plane could fly more peo­ple fur­ther and at a lower seat cost which trans­lated to lower fares and a boom in long- haul travel.

Qantas has op­er­ated 65 of the 747 jum­bos but is now down to 10 jum­bos which will make their way to the “bone­yard” within the next decade.

Qantas ad­mits the sha­gadelic 1970s decor in their 747s’ Cap­tain Cook lounges should have come with a vol­ume con­trol.

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