The second Boeing 747-400 (F-GITB) to be scapped. Photo from Air Salvage International Limited

The second Boeing 747-400 (F-GITB) to be scapped. Photo from Air Salvage International Limited

The Boeing 747 starts her next chapter with the first flight of the 747-8 Intercontinental. As we look to the future of the jumbo jet, we also have started the begining of the end for the Boeing 747-400. In July 2010, the first three 747-400s were taken to Air Salvage International, located in Hampshire, UK and destroyed for salvage.

The first -400 first flew on April 29, 1988 and became the best selling 747 model. The -400 differed from the -300 with an updated cockpit, the addition of winglets, additional fuel and other odds and ends. The first three to be salvaged all served their entire lives with Air France. It is sad to think about the first Boeing 747-400’s being destroyed, never to fly again. Let’s get to know the three -400’s that were the first to go:

This aircraft was delivered to Air France in February 1991. In September 1993, she was operating as flight AF072 from Paris to Los Angeles to Tahiti. The aircraft went off the end of the runway, but no one was killed and the plane was repaired and placed back into service. The aircraft was stored in February 2010 after serving Air France for almost 20 years. She has the official title of being the very first Boeing 747-400 to be scrapped.
* Photo of F-GITA being torn up via
* Photo of F-GITA off the runway via
* 88 pics of F-GITA’s life via

She was delivered to Air France in May of 1991. During her almost 20 years of service for Air France, she mostly flew out of Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport (CDG). She was pulled out of service and stored in March 2010.
* 77 Photos of F-GITB via

This is the newest of the first three to be scrapped. She was delivered to Air France in September 1991 and served just short of 19 years before being stored in April 2009.
* Photo of F-GITC wearing and experimental Air France livery
*72 photos of F-GITC via

While Boeing 747-400s are being destroyed,  there talk of two Boeing 747-200s  to fly US passengers. It might seem odd at first, but when you look at the fact that there were 694 Boeing 747-400s delivered and only 12 have been taken out of service to date, that isn’t too shabby.

“For more than 20 years, the 747-400 has helped foster the proud legacy of the 747 family. It has been the world’s favorite airplane and a proven performer,” Joanna Pickup with Boeing 747 Communications told

When asked what aircraft type that Boeing is hoping customers will replace their Boeing 747-400 with, Pickup explained, “The 747-8 Intercontinental is perfectly suited to serve the 400 to 500-seat market served by the 747-400, with more range, more passengers, more cargo, and with lower operating costs.”

So if you are in the market to buy a Boeing 747-400 in the next few years, you are in luck. It is likely that we will see more -400’s looking for a new home (or maybe to be made into a home) for cheap.

UPDATE: “Note that to date Air France counts in its fleet 10 B747-400. This aicraft is foreseen to be maintained in the fleet until 2016, ” Air France spokesperson explained. “Indeed, B747-400 was one of the most successful devices of an economic point of view up to the arrival of the new generation 777-300ER.”

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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Wow, really sad to read this story. But, all three models have served well for several years. I definitely hope to see more airlines picking up the 747-8 as 747-4s reach the end of their useful life.

After some thought, I do not see this as ‘sad’ at all. Rather, it is part of the evolutionary process since more current airplanes have replaced them. Ninteen or twenty years may sound short, but Air France is a long haul carrier and has learned to squeeze the best possible utilization from their ‘heavy’ aircraft. It is more than reasonable to believe that these first three GITA, B and C, were simply worn out.
**Attention: Airline Reporter, David** If you can find the details, I would like to know the Total Hours and Cycles achieved by these three airplanes. The cycles may be on the slow side, but I’ll bet my famous nickle that the Total Hours on each of these three airplanes was extremely high. (If I knew where to look, I’d do it myself.) Thanks.

If I knew where to look, I would tell you as well. I bet you are correct — we would find total hours to be high, but cycles to be lower. I tried to reach out to Air France about the 747’s, but haven’t heard anything back yet.


Thanks for trying, David.

Stories like this make me shed aluminum tears.

Rob Goodman

You would think the cargo airlines wanted these planes for haling cargo around the world.? But who knows. They scrap 747-400 and yet we have DC 8 & 9’s still flying cargo and passengers. Wow what a crazy world.

N185UA is in Arizona getting broken up as we speak, if not broken up already.


one dowm 693 to go

Please advise as to who to contact to purchase a 747 fuselage prior to scrapping. Appreciate it !

It’s for the best, the frame is worn and has seen to much action. They will tear them apart with huge diggers!

The first B747-400 was delivered to NW as N661US Boeing 747-451 – cn 23719 / ln 696. I beelive it is still flying for Delta.

Any idea of what the number on the nose wheel compartment was? I flew most of NWA’s 400’s on the way to Bangkok from NYC or Detroit, and always took note of those numbers. Recently saw a video of A Delta landing at Narita and it still had the old NWA mumber.

Note quite correct Air New Zealand sent the a 747-400 ZK-NBS to Roswell, New Mexico be scrapped in June 2009. This predates the AirFrance planes by nearly 6 months.

Steven L. Pennington

I was an assembly mechanic on RA 1, and worked on the first 11 a/c before going into the service and Vietnam where I patched bullet holes in airplanes. Returning in 1974 to the 747, later 767 startup, and then 747-400 as a production supervisor. Retired for 16 years, I will likely see the last 747 built. First to last! We should have a celebration honoring the “Queen of the Skies.”

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