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Boeing 747: the “Jumbo Jet” bows out


A chapter of aviation history came to a close on Tuesday, 31 January 2023. US aircraft manufacturer Boeing delivered its final 747 during a ceremony held at its Everett plant in the US. We take a look back at the history of this iconic aircraft.

Boeing 747 or "Jumbo Jet"

More than 50 years after its very first flight on 9 February 1969, the Boeing 747 bowed out at a ceremony held in Everett in the very plant in which it first saw the light of day. The 1574th and final aircraft was delivered to US freight airline Atlas Air Worldwide before a crowd of more than a thousand made up of Boeing employees, suppliers, clients and aviation enthusiasts – including actor John Travolta.

The symbol of a generation

Boeing 747

Eminently recognizable thanks to its iconic rounded front section, the Boeing 747 left its mark on a whole generation of pilots and passengers. The “Queen of the skies” or the “Jumbo Jet” as it is known stood out from other aircraft of its era in a number of ways. It was the first to have two decks and two aisles. A revolution at the start of the 1970s! The Boeing 747 was also the largest passenger aircraft ever created – until the Airbus A380 entered commercial in operation 2007.

In addition to its technical prowess, its numerous versions (created for both passenger and freight transport) left their mark indelibly in people's minds. Indeed, the famous “Air Force One”– the custom model built to carry US presidents – has become iconic since it entered service in 1990. Similarly, the fact that NASA used it to carry space shuttles and that heavy metal group Iron Maiden had their own “Ed Force One” version of it helped establish it as part of popular culture.

Nine Safran companies on board

Safran played a part in this success story by supplying equipment for the 747-400 and 747-800 models, which came into service in 1989 and 2011, respectively.

The companies in question are:

  • Safran Aero Boosters which supplied components for the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines on the Boeing 747-400 and for the low-pressure compressor on the 747-800’s GEnx-2B engines.
  • Safran Aircraft Engines for the 747-400’s GE CF6-80C2 engine modules.
  • Safran Electrical & Power for the wiring used on the 747-400.
  • Safran Electronics & Defense for the FADEC* used on the 747-400’s GE CF6-80C2 engines and the FADEC used on the GEnx-2B engines.
  • Safran Landing Systems for the surveillance systems used on both models’ wheels and brakes.
  • Safran Nacelles for the thrust reversers used on the 747-400's Rolls-Royce RB211 engines.
  • Safran Aerosystems for the evacuation slides used on both models.
  • Safran Seats for the 747-400’s passenger seats.
  • Safran Ventilation Systems for the 747-800’s ventilation systems.

Although the last one has been delivered, the Queen of the Skies still has a long life ahead of it – it will continue to carry freight until 2050.

* Full Authority Digital Engine Controllers.

B747 Atlas Air
B747 Atlas Air
B747 Atlas Air
© . B747 Atlas Air
Supertanker B747
Supertanker B747
Supertanker B747
© . Supertanker B747
Space shuttle B747
Space shuttle B747
Space shuttle B747
© . Space shuttle B747