Boeing 747: BA’s Queen of the Skies depart from Heathrow in final flights

British Airways retires 747 fleet
British Airways retires 747 fleet - (Copyright PA Wire)
12:05pm, Thu 08 Oct 2020
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British Airways’ last two Heathrow-based Boeing 747 planes have departed from the airport on their final flight.

The jumbo jets left the west London airport shortly after 8.35am on Thursday, as more than 18,000 people watched a livestream of the event on Facebook.

The airline brought forward the retirement of its fleet of 747-400 aircraft due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the aviation sector.

British Airways retires 747 fleet - (Copyright PA Wire)

The G-CIVB and G-CIVY 747 models had been due to perform a synchronised dual take-off on parallel runways, but instead departed from the same runway separately.

BA said the G-CIVB model entered service in February 1994 and had flown 59 million miles, while G-CIVY had clocked-up 45 million air miles having first flown in September 1998.

The two aircraft will be flying to Kemble in Gloucestershire and St Athan airfield in south Wales, BA said.

British Airways retires 747 fleet - (Copyright PA Wire)

BA senior first officer Mark Vanhoenacker said it had been his “childhood dream” to fly the 747.

“The 747 was a joy to fly. It was a very large airplane, of course, but it didn’t feel like it — it felt very responsive and manoeuvrable,” he said.

“The plane was so distinctive. It’s a beautiful design, a classic like Concorde, and I often think the upper deck made the 747 look more birdlike.

He added: “Whenever I saw one waiting through the glass of a terminal I couldn’t believe that my childhood dream of flying one had come true.”

Senior first officer Lyndsay McGregor, also with BA, said: “The 747 was truly fantastic to fly. There was no greater feeling than the power of the 4 Rolls Royce engines spooling up as we took off.”

Launched in 1969, the 747-400 aircraft were considerably larger than existing airliners, with a capacity of around 550 passengers.

They were known by British Airways as The Queen Of The Skies.

The airline once boasted the world’s largest fleet of the 747-400 model with 31 aircraft.

Coronavirus – Fri Jul 17, 2020 - (Copyright PA Wire)

The 747 fleet is to be replaced by quieter, more fuel-efficient aircraft as part of the airline’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The airline expects the last 747s, currently positioned in Wales, to leave the fleet by the end of the year.

Pete Glass, an air traffic control manager at Heathrow, said: “Saying goodbye has evoked mixed emotions for those of us with a great deal of fondness for The Queen of the Skies.

“It may have been superseded by other aircraft, but she will always be special with her iconic look.”

Mr Glass, who works for the air navigation service provider Nats, added: “And as an air traffic controller at Nats, we have never got bored of watching it roll down the runway.”

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