Oldest flying 747 finally grounded, 47 years after first flight

Built in 1969, it ended its days as a testbed for engines

81 Reg comments Got Tips?

Video The oldest Boeing 747 capable of flight has been shelved.

The 747-100 was the 25th to roll off the production line and entered service in 1970 with long-defunct Pan American Airlines, which flew it more than 18,000 times before selling it to GE Aviation in 1991.

GE used it as a flying testbed for new engines, a role the 747 was well-equipped to handle because the plane was happy doing almost anything with just three engines. Testing smaller engines that produced different quantities of thrust to the other three was also no problem, as the 747's massive rudder and tail plane could handle the resulting yaw. The plane even flew with five engines, as depicted above (or here for m.reg readers).

The plane was extensively modified for its job, including strengthening of its left wing. But GE left its First and Business classes largely intact.

The plane flew 775 cycles for GE Aviation and tested 11 different engines over its lifetime.

The company has mothballed the plane and says it “most likely” flew for the last time in January 2017.

The retirement doesn't mark the end of GE's flying testbed program, or its use of 747s for the job: in 2011 the company announced it had purchased a 747-400 to continue the program. ®

Youtube Video


Keep Reading

Virgin Galactic inks deal with NASA to train astro-tourists looking to buy a seat to the International Space Station

Somebody else will have to provide the rocket, though

NASA launches guide to Lunar etiquette now that private operators will share the Moon with governments

Old treaties don't mention space mining and a new one could take forever the sign off. Enter the new 'Artemis Accords'

Do you want to be an astronaut when you grow up? Yeah, you and 12,000 others: NASA flooded with folks hoping to visit Moon, Mars

Cramped conditions? Not being able to see friends and family? Sounds familiar

RIP Katherine Johnson: The extraordinary NASA mathematician astronauts trusted over computers

Obit 'She was an American hero and her pioneering legacy will never be forgotten'

Google reveals how its Borg clusters have evolved yet still only use about 60 percent of resources (Alibaba might do better)

New dump of tracing data and pair of papers reveal plenty about ad giant’s internal operations

Microsoft cops to 775% Azure surge, quotas on resources and 'significant new capacity' coming ASAP

Updated Admits ongoing provisioning problems but insists no capacity crunch even as it drops freebies

NASA to launch 247 petabytes of data into AWS – but forgot about eye-watering cloudy egress costs before lift-off

Audit finds error could mean less data flows to boffins unless agency ponies up for downloads

NASA goes commercial, publishes price for trips to the ISS – and it'll be multi-millionaires only for this noAirBNB

$22,500 a day to breathe, eat and exercise, $50 per GB for data, $11,250 to pee and sleep

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020