After 44 years of bringing Japanese businessmen and tourists all over the world, the Boeing 747 “Jumbo Jet” will make its last flight in Japan by the end of this month. All Nippon Airways’ last 747 still in service will be flying from Okinawa to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on March 31 at 3:00 PM, marking the end of a historic commercial plane that changed the history of the aviation industry locally and internationally.
In July 1970, Japan Airlines (JAL) became the first Japanese carrier to use the 70 meter long and 20 meter tall 747, the largest passenger aircraft at that time. It was originally designed to be for military transport but the US military chose the Lockheed design and so Boeing was left with a very expensive project on its hands. They then turned the design into a civilian aircraft and in January 1970, Pan American World Airways became the first to use the 747 on a flight between New York and London.
According to a former 747 pilot and now aviation critic Hiroyuki Kobayashi, the big plane answered the need to transport large groups of people from one place to another, domestically and internationally. He believes it was responsible in encouraging the Japanese to go outside of the country as it made international travel easier and more accessible. It also made a huge contribution into the “exchange of people, products and culture.”
However, due to advances in aviation technology and the invention of planes that could make longer and more fuel-efficient flights, the 747s eventually started being phased out. JAL stopped using them by the spring of 2011 and ANA only had one plane running domestic routes. For its last flight at the end of the month, an ANA representative said, “We’d like people to commit its heroic visage to memory.”
[ via Mainichi ]