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Remembering the Queen of the skies

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Boeing 747 revolutionised air travel and now, as the distinctive ‘Jumbo Jet' is eased out of service worldwide by most airlines, let us remember one of the 20th century's greatest engineering achievements

It is remarkable that two of the most significant achievements in modern jet aviation took place in the late-1960’s. The first was the development of the supersonic Concorde by an Anglo-French combine. The second was the development of the 747 by American aerospace giant, Boeing. Both projects were financed very differently. The Concorde, which was to be a source of European pride, was funded by the taxpayer with generous grants from both Governments. Boeing almost went bankrupt trying to develop the 747 because it was assumed that the future of air travel was supersonic. Instead, the Concorde, while an engineering masterpiece, was a commercial disaster with only 14 aircraft ever built. The Boeing 747, on the other hand, was a remarkable success story with over 1,500 aircraft over various versions having been sold to airlines across the world.

It has been a decade since the Concorde last took to the skies, the planes are now serving time as museum display pieces, one even at Boeing’s Museum of Flight outside the city of Seattle. The Boeing 747, however, technically remains in production, almost half a century after its first flight. However, airlines across the world, which built their fleets on the back of the Boeing 747, are gradually withdrawing the aircraft from service.

The American airline United, which had been a long-time flyer of the aircraft, just flew its last commercial flight, another American carrier, Delta Airlines,........

© The Pioneer