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Boeing bids the 747 a final, ultimate, conclusive farewell

Cargo airline Atlas Air takes delivery of 1,547th and last Queen of the Skies

After what is actually a longer farewell than Elton John's five-year final tour, Boeing is finally, for real this time, saying goodbye to the 747 as it delivers the last one to the world's largest 747 operator, American cargo airline Atlas Air.

The Atlas Air 747-8 freighter takes the total number of manufactured 747s to 1,547.

"Boeing and Atlas Air Worldwide joined thousands of people – including current and former employees as well as customers and suppliers – to celebrate the delivery of the final 747 to Atlas, bringing to a close more than a half century of production," said the airplane maker.

The company gave details of the farewell, including that the designers and builders of the very first 747 back in 1967 were honored at the Everett factory in Washington on the occasion.

The Reg reported on the 2016 production slowdown that led to this day, the 2020 announcement that production would end, the 2021 confirmation that, yes indeed, the last four 747s would go to Atlas Air, and last December's announcement of number 1,547's completed assembly.

There's not much left to say about the plane that hasn't been said already: the 747's economies of scale reduced airfares, made international air travel affordable, made a bazillion happy memories, and a bazillion more dire meals.

And yet Boeing has found more to say in the form of a jazzy time-lapse of the assembly line, a press release, and the weighing in of corporate historian Mike Lombardi, who characterized the aircraft as single-handedly "democratizing flight."

But just in case there's nostalgia for these updates, it is important to remember the plane is still in service. There are reportedly 44 passenger versions operating, of which Lufthansa flies 25, and 314 freighters.

As Boeing exec Kim Smith reminded all last December: "This plane will continue to fly across the globe for years to come."

Until the next final goodbye, we say au revoir, Boeing 747. ®

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