Qantas’ first Boeing 747-400, celebrated for having flown the longest commercial flight in history from London to Sydney, made its shortest and final journey earlier from Sydney to Illawarra Regional Airport in New South Wales.
After less than 15 minutes in flight, Qantas’ B747 touched down at 07:47 and was delivered to its new home with the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society where it will become the only B747-400 in the world to be put on public display.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said donating the aircraft to the HARS museum will provide not only a great tourist attraction, but also an opportunity to preserve an important piece of Qantas’ and aviation history.
“Having graced the pages of the record books, revolutionised air travel for Australians, marked a huge technical feat for Qantas and carried millions of passengers on their global adventures and home again, our B747-400 ‘City of Canberra’ is very deserving of a graceful retirement as the star attraction at one of Australia’s most prestigious aviation museums,” said Joyce.
“As she takes her rightful place in aviation’s hall of fame at HARS we’ll be reminded of her lasting legacy as a great aviation pioneer, a legacy that continues to inspire and drive Qantas’ spirit of innovation and world class airmanship and engineering today.”
The delivery flight from Sydney International Airport to Illawarra Regional Airport was the first time a Boeing 747 has landed at the regional port.
The Qantas pilots operating the final flight worked with industry stakeholders on a number of approvals and training procedures given the flight was outside normal Qantas operations to a non-Qantas port.
A number of considerations were factored in to the preparations including ensuring the appropriate ground handling equipment were positioned at Illawarra Regional Airport for the arrival and giving the aircraft livery a ‘Permaguard’ coating to protect the paintwork for many years to come.
The aircraft interior was also given a full spruce up, with the only items removed from the aircraft being the Qantas Flight Operations manuals in the cockpit, the galley carts that store in-flight meals and the fresh flowers in the lavatory.
The aircraft engines remain in good operational condition so will be removed for further use.
Qantas is working with HARS on sourcing suitable replacements.
Over the past few years, Qantas has been gradually retiring its older B747s.
Nine of its newest jumbos, the last of which was delivered in 2003, have been refurbished and will continue flying into the future.
Since 2008, the Qantas Group has taken delivery of almost 150 new aircraft, lowering its fleet age to an average of just over seven years.
The aircraft will join an impressive line-up of famed aircraft located at HARS including a Lockheed Super Constellation, Catalina, Douglas DC3 and DC4 and a Desert Storm US Army Cobra.