Qantas’ first Boeing 747-400 (VH-OJA “City of Canberra”), celebrated for having flown the longest commercial flight in history, made its shortest and final journey last week when it landed at Illawarra Regional Airport in Australia on 7 March 2015. There is will become a jumbo tourist attraction.
After less than 15 minutes in flight, the specially numbered Qantas Flight ‘7474’ was delivered to its new home with the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) marking the first 747-400 to become a permanent public display.
The delivery flight from Sydney International Airport to Illawarra Regional Airport was the first time a Boeing 747 has landed at the regional port. The aircraft will get a “Permaguard” coating to protect the paintwork for many years to come.
The aircraft interior was also given a full “spruce up” with the only items removed from the aircraft being the Qantas Flight Operations manuals in the cockpit, the galley carts that store in-flight meals and the fresh flowers in the lavatory. Three of VH-OJA’s Rolls Royce engines still have significant life left in them and will be used on other Qantas B747s. One engine will be left on OJA, with Qantas and HARS working on sourcing suitable replacements over time.
During its years in service the B747-400 made 13,833 flights, accumulating 106,154 flight hours and carried 4,094,568 passengers. The aircraft has flown nearly 52 million miles (85 million kilometres), which is equivalent to 110.2 return trips to the moon. On Thursday 17 August 1989, it set the record for having flown for the longest distance (non-stop London to Sydney) and time over distance by a commercial aircraft. The time over distance record still stands. Qantas’ first 747 was delivered in 1971; the last in 2003. A total of 65 B747s have been operated by Qantas. Between 1979 and 1985 Qantas was an all-747 airline.
Over the past few years, Qantas has been gradually retiring its older B747s. Nine of its newest jumbos, the last of which was delivered in 2003, have been refurbished and will continue flying into the future. Since 2008, the Qantas Group has taken delivery of almost 150 new aircraft, lowering its fleet age to an average of just over seven years.
The B747-400 joins a nice collection at HARS, that includes a Lockheed Super Constellation, Catalina, Douglas DC3 and DC4 and a Desert Storm US Army Cobra.
Featured image (top): The first Qantas B747-400 to become a permanent public display lands at Illawarra (Image © Qantas)