It's the end of an era in the world of aviation.
The last copy of the "jumbo jet" was delivered to Atlas Air on Tuesday, January 31.
The American aircraft manufacturer has produced 1,574 copies of the “jumbo jet” since its first flight in 1969. But the plane, with its four engines, ended up being overtaken by more efficient and kerosene-efficient aircraft.
First aircraft with two aisles
The 747's story begins in the 1960s, when air travel became more popular and airports had to deal with an influx of traffic.
Encouraged by the Pan Am company, Boeing decided to build an aircraft that could carry many more passengers.
Its engineers initially imagine superimposing two fuselages, but are worried about the highest placed passengers in the event of evacuation.
“Instead of making the plane taller, they will make it wider,” says Boeing historian Michael Lombardi.
The 747 will be the first aircraft with two aisles.
The device was also designed from the start to transport freight: to facilitate the loading of large goods, it opens from the front.
The cockpit was therefore installed higher, with behind it some seats reserved for the privileged, creating this so recognizable bump.
The 747 would remain the largest passenger aircraft on the market until the arrival in the 2000s of the Airbus A380.
In the 1980s and 1990s, "it was really the workhorse of the system" connections between some large airports like New York, Paris or London, notes Michel Merluzeau.
Other more innovative aircraft
It then suffered from the arrival of more innovative, more fuel-efficient long-haul aircraft that could more easily go from one point to another on the globe without going through the "hubs", such as the 787 "Dreamliner" and the 777 at Boeing, or the A350 at Airbus, which fill up more easily and at lower costs.
Boeing had announced in the summer of 2020 that it would cease production in 2022. The plane will still fly in the sky for a few decades, especially in its cargo version.