It’s the end of an era, one that revolutionized travel and brought the world closer together. After the Feb. 1, 2023 delivery of the last 747 built – a 747-8F registered as N863GT to Atlas Air – no new 747s will ever again depart from Boeing’s manufacturing plant in Everett, Washington.
Every AvGeek knows the story of the 747. Designed and built by the Incredibles – the group of engineers and mechanics and line workers who, in the late 1960s, created an unusual-looking airplane that would, in its way, change the world.
Boeing held a two-day event to commemorate the delivery of the final 747, to Atlas Air. Thousands of people were in attendance for the event, filling a section of the former 747 assembly line, which is being dismantled and the space repurposed.
Korean Air’s new 747-8I glistening during delivery – Photo: Colin Cook | AirlineReporter
Earlier this week, at the Everett Delivery Center, Korean Air and Boeing celebrated delivery of the airline’s first of ten 747-8 Intercontinental aircraft. The delivery marked Korean becoming the only carrier of both the freighter and passenger variant, with Korean already operating seven freighters. We were invited to attend the delivery ceremony and it certainly did not disappoint.
Arriving about an hour prior to the ceremony beginning, I had the opportunity to do a little light plane spotting and to chat with some other members of the media. As you can imagine, security is tight at events like this and we had to go through a couple security checks. Once in the delivery center, I was allowed to step out onto the terrace to watch the big 747-8I be towed up to the Delivery Center. As the plane neared, the Korean Air pilots were also outside on the terrace with us. You could tell how excited they were to be a part of this event and to fly this beautiful plane home.
When you are an airline customer that drops a few hundred million on some new Boeing aircraft, sometimes you just want your pilots to pick up the plane and go. Other times you might want a celebration. Either way, it should always be exciting every time that Boeing hands over the keys to a customer.
Previously, if an airline just wanted to pick up their plane with little fanfare, they would just pick it up at the Everett Delivery Center (EDC), located on the east side of Paine Field in Everett, WA. If the airline wanted some attention, they would take delivery of their plane at the the Future of Flight across the runway (see Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 777-300ER delivery). There was not much in between.
View of what Boeing expects the new Everett Delivery Center to look like. Photo from Boeing. Click for larger.
Yesterday, Boeing broke ground on a new delivery center, which will make the picking up experience better for customers picking up their brand spanking new Boeing 747, 767, 777 or 787.
The current facility was built in the late 1960s and then renovated in 2006. The new facility, which will be 180,000 sq ft (vs 60,000 of the old one), is expected to open in early 2013.
“Our customers are demanding our products like never before,” said Jeff Klemann, vice president of the delivery center. “As we build more airplanes at faster and faster rates, we also need a world-class facility to conduct our delivery operations. The new Everett Delivery Center will be more than just a building; it’s an investment in our customers, our local community, our employees and Boeing’s future.”
The new Everett Delivery Center from the opposite view. Photo from Boeing. Click for larger.
When asked if the Future of Flight will still play a role in future deliveries, Elizabeth Fischtziur with Boeing Everett Site Communications explained to AirlineReporter.com, “We will continue to work with our airline customers to custom design delivery ceremonies to meet their needs. While the majority of ceremonies will take place at the EDC in our new delivery lounge, it is possible that we will continue to use the Future of Flight from time to time.”
Boeing explained that while the new site is being built, “interim delivery plans are in place,” including the possibility of delivering on the flight line.
Have no fear! I would expect large deliveries, like Lufthansa’s first 747-8 Intercontinental and United’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner will most likely have ceremonies at the Future of Flight with great fanfare.