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Last Boeing 747 rolls off the line after half a century of production | Boeing

After more than half a century of production, the last Boeing 747 has rolled out of an American factory in the state of Washington.

The end customer was the cargo ship Atlas Air, which ordered four 747-8 freighters early this year. The last plane rolled out of Boeing’s massive factory in Everett, Wash., on Tuesday evening.

The Jumbojet 747 has taken on a variety of roles during its lifetime: a cargo plane, a commercial airliner that can carry nearly 500 passengers, and even the Air Force One presidential plane.

When it was first produced in 1969, it was the largest commercial aircraft in the world and the first with two aisles. It still towers over most other aircraft.

The aircraft’s design included a second deck that extended from the cockpit out over the forward third of the aircraft, giving it a distinctive hump that made it instantly recognizable and inspired the nickname, the Whale.

Last Boeing 747 rolls off the line after half a century of production |  Boeing
Construction of one of the last Boeing 747s in Washington state. Photo: Jennifer Buchanan/AP

It took more than 50,000 Boeing employees 16 months to churn out the first 747. The company has completed 1,573 more since then.

But over the past two decades, Boeing and its European rival Airbus have turned to more fuel-efficient and profitable planes; widebody aircraft with two engines instead of the 747’s four.

Delta was the last US airline to use the 747 for passenger flights – ending in 2017 – although some international airlines continue to fly it, including German airline Lufthansa.

Boeing announced in May that it would move its headquarters from Chicago to Arlington, Virginia.

The move to the Washington DC area puts its executives closer to key federal government officials and the Federal Aviation Administration, which certifies Boeing passenger and cargo planes.

Boeing’s relationship with the FAA has been strained since fatal crashes of its best-selling plane, the 737 Max, in 2018 and 2019. The FAA took nearly two years to approve design changes and allow the plane to return to the air.

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