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The First of the Last - British Airways Boeing 747s begin to Leave

British Airways today (Tuesday, 18 August 2020) retired its first Boeing 747 since announcing last month that all 31 of its jumbo jets had sadly flown their last commercial services. Boeing 747-400, registration G-CIVD, departed from London Heathrow this morning under flight number BA9170E after more than 25 years of flying for the airline.

Above: G-CIVD taxies out for the last time at London Heathrow

The aircraft received an emotional farewell from the NATS Air Traffic Control Tower at Heathrow Airport.

British Airways’ fleet of 747s are being retired at an accelerated rate as a result of the devastating impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the airline and the aviation sector, which is not predicted to recover to 2019 levels until at least 2024*.

Al Bridger, British Airways’ Director of Flight Operations, said:

“All of us at British Airways and so many of our customers will have fond memories and special moments from our travels on the iconic jumbo jet.

“As a pilot who was lucky enough to fly the aircraft, the sheer scale of it was unforgettable, you literally looked down on other aircraft. It changed aviation forever when it arrived in the skies and I know I speak for our customers and the global aviation community when I say, despite rightly moving to more sustainable ways of flying, we will still miss the 747 dearly.”

G-CIVD heads for the runway at Heathrow for the last time

The 747 has been an iconic part of BOAC and British Airways’ fleet for nearly fifty years. At one point the airline operated 57 of the aircraft, with the jumbo jet’s first flight to New York in 1971.

The aircraft were slowly being phased out by the airline as they reached the end of their working life in order to help meet the company’s commitment to net zero by 2050. The airline has invested heavily in new, modern long-haul aircraft including six A350s and 32 787s which are around 25 per cent more fuel-efficient than the 747.

G-CIVD fact file:

Date entered service: 14 December 1994

Retirement date: 19 August 2020

Most recent service: Last flight was to Lagos, part of the repatriation effort, on 18 April 2020

Liveries worn:

Landor – ‘City of Coventry’

Current: Union Flag / Chatham Dockyard with oneworld logo

Seating configuration: First: 14; Club: 52; World Traveller Plus: 36; World Traveller: 243

Facts and stats (approximate)

Top speed: 565mph

Take off speed: 180mph

Length: 70.6m, Height: 19.41m, Wingspan: 64.4m

Weight: 184 tonnes, maximum take-off weight 378 tonnes

4 x Rolls-Royce RB211-524 engines

Flown 115,276.8 hours, 13,364 flights and over 50 million miles

The last rotation

The Boeing 747 in BOAC / British Airways service:

Above and below: The 747-136 in 1971

Below: 747-236s at Heathrow's Terminal 4 in 1986 and 1987 (Kevan James)

Above: The modern era - 747-436 at Heathrow (Kevan James)

Above - retro livery on a 747-436

Below - sunset on a flying career

All images courtesy of British Airways unless stated

The history of British Airways' home, London Heathrow Airport, including the truth behind its origins in World War II,

is revealed in Kevan James' book,

Heathrow Airport 70 Years and Counting

Reviews on the home page

Coming Soon:

'So You Want To Start An Airline' by Andy Martin

All the questions and answers about how airlines work

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