Boeing has finally - and quietly - delivered the last of the original 747 family off the line, a -400ER Freighter (MSN 37304).
The General Electric CF6-80C2-powered aircraft, which is the 1,419th 747 to be built, was officially delivered on 10 November to Kuwaiti freighter cargo start-up LoadAir, along with its sister-ship.
The hand-over of the last original 747 marks the end of a chapter in Boeing's Jumbo Jet story, which began 40 years ago with the delivery of 747-100 N733PA to Pan Am on 12 December 1969.
The last -400ERF completed its maiden flight on 16 May 2009, but along with its LoadAir sister-ship (line number 1416) has been stored in an all-white scheme awaiting delivery. Both were ferried to the aircraft storage site in Marana, Arizona the day after their official delivery.
In April LoadAir was dropped by lessor AerCap as its partner in the joint leasing company AerVenture after the airline failed to make a capital payment. While there had been talk of AerCap taking over LoadAir’s 747 order as part of the settlement in a sale/leaseback deal, the lessor tells Flightglobal that this is no longer the case and it has no involvement in the 747s.
Boeing declines to comment on the fate of the two aircraft now that they have been delivered. However, according to industry sources, the two 747s are likely to enter service early in 2010. The company's website says its "operations are expected to commence upon delivery" of the 747s.
LoadAir was awarded its air operator's certificate in 2008 and had aimed to begin operations in early 2009 with the two new 747s, but these plans were delayed amid the collapse in the cargo market. The airline was established as the first dedicated cargo operator in Kuwait.
Boeing is now gearing up to start flight-testing its stretched 747-8 family, deliveries of which are due to begin at the end of 2010, to launch customer Cargolux.