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Japan to bid farewell to 747 jumbo


Japanese plane buffs will say a fond farewell to the "jumbo jet" this month as the Boeing 747 makes its final scheduled flight in the country.

The two-deck carrier, loved for its broad-shouldered look, will ferry holiday-makers and aviation enthusiasts on an All Nippon Airways flight from Naha, in Okinawa, to Tokyo's Haneda airport on March 31.

The jumbo jet -- 70 meters long and 60 meters wide -- was first introduced to the country by Japan Airlines (JAL) in 1970 and became a workhorse on both domestic and international routes.

At one time Japanese airlines owned more than 120 of them, each capable of carrying over 500 passengers, the Mainichi Shimbun daily reported.

But as well as its place in Japan's affections, the 747 is also remembered for its involvement in the nation's worst ever aviation accident and the deadliest single-aircraft disaster in history.

In 1985, JAL Flight 123, flying from Tokyo to Osaka with 524 people aboard, crashed 120 kilometers northwest of Tokyo, killing all but four people on board.

The jumbo jet has been replaced by more fuel-efficient models, most notably the lightweight 787 Dreamliner, the first mid-sized plane able to fly long-haul.

The 747 is still in use in other countries around the world.

© (c) 2014 AFP

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The 747 should never be retired. Just give it better engines and revamp the structure, but the style is so iconic.. And I'll take a 747 over an 787 any day of the week.

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Just give it better engines and revamp the structure, but the style is so iconic..

They have. Its called the 747-I. Basically built with the same materials and technology that the 787 uses. The reality is, Japan really doesn't need the 747 for short haul domestic flights. I have always questioned the reasoning behind ANA using 747's for Haneda-Osaka and Haneda-Sapporo flights, when they had 757,767, and 777's that could take on the same passenger load without having to feed 4 hungry engines. The twin engines planes are much more cost effective for these types of flights. In the 70-80's, there were less options because smaller planes like the DC9, DC10 had less range making them unusable for long range international flights, and didn't have the capacity to carry 400+ passengers that JAL, ANA needed for the short hauls. This made the 747 the most practical and versatile plane for its time.

But now you have the more practical high capacity twin engine planes, it makes the 747 less practical and less versatile. However, having said that, I think JAL and ANA should have bought at least 3 or 4 747-I for their Tokyo-NYC and Tokyo-London flights, just for comfort purposes. I do think that the larger jumbos like the 747 and A380 are much more comfortable for the super long haul flights. Taking a 767,777 for those flights feels too cramped for me.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

My heart is breaking. The 747 is what I always wanted to fly when I became a pilot. In 2007 the company selected me to transition to the 787, but that was cancelled with the delays in development and production. I was disappointed but then I was told that I was going into the 747. That was the second happiest time in my professional life. It was such a satisfying feeling to fly the Queen of the skies. Even after the airline got rid of the international versions and went to domestic only use it was still a great experience. With the drawdown in domestic use I transitioned to the 777 as the most senior pilots got to stay with the 747. No problem. At least I have my time, occasionally getting to fly the Pokemon Jumbo.

At one time Japanese airlines owned more than 120 of them, each capable of carrying over 500 passengers,

No. The domestic versions carried that many, but the international versions carried close to 400.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

With the 787's on going problems, I can't help but think ANA is going to regret this, at least in the short run. It's still the best commercial jet in the air.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

ANA is retiring the last of the 747-400D's because those planes are getting way up there in terms of takeoff/landing cycles, since the 747's in ANA domestic service fly a lot of shorter flights per day. This is why ANA is buying more 787's.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"The 747 should never be retired."

They're still making it. But it seems only the cargo carriers are buying it these days.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@JeffLee, not so.




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@Jeff Huffman


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The title is incorrect... Japan is not saying farewell to the 747, the Japanese Government will still be using it.

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The short range version carried 580 people. The 757, 767, 777 and 787 do not carry close to that amount of people. So it takes 2 or more flights using the smaller aircraft. This will make it more difficult getting a last minute seat to Naha.

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So many wonderful memories of that plane - used to sneak my kids up to the crew rest quarters above the starboard aft of the plane on transpacific flights for some uninterrupted play. I'm old enough to remember when smoking was permitted and the crew left the drink trolley at the back of the plane for us heavy drinkers to have a nomihoudai.

Still, I've learned to appreciate the quietness and interior spaciousness of the 777. It's now my aircraft of choice.

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