What Happened To Braniff’s Boeing 747 Aircraft?

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Braniff International Airways was an American carrier that ceased operations in 1982. In over five decades of existence, the airline operated a large variety of aircraft. At one time, it even operated a Concorde on a short-term lease! Another iconic type seen in Braniff’s fleet was the Boeing 747, of which the airline operated three variants.

Braniff 747 Frankfurt 1979
This particular example, N611BN, spent less than three years with Braniff. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

At its peak, Braniff even had one of the highest daily 747 usage rates among the jumbo’s operators at the time. But what happened to these aircraft?

Braniff’s first jumbo

According to Planespotters.net, Braniff took delivery of its first 747 in January 1971. This came just a year after the type had first entered commercial service with Pan Am. Registered as N601BN, this 747-100 was also one of the last examples to leave the airline.

After over 11 years of service, it departed in June 1982, just after Braniff International ceased operations. After spells at Polaris Aircraft Leasing (June 1982-March 1983) and Metro International (March 1983-December 1983), its final operator was Tower Air. After just over a decade with this US charter airline, N601NM was scrapped in 1994.

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Other 747-100s

Braniff operated three other examples of the 747-100, all of which it received in 1978. It leased both of the first two American Airlines. N9666 arrived in March 1978, and spent over two years with Braniff, before returning to American in May 1980. This aircraft flew for a diverse range of carriers such as Iran Air, Air Inter, and United. After 30 years of service, it was placed into storage at Greenwood Leflore in 2000, and scrapped two years later.

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Braniff Boeing 747-100
N601BN was the first Boeing 747-100 that Braniff took delivery of. It was also its longest-serving example, spending 11 years at the airline. Photo: Tim Rees via Wikimedia Commons

N9667 had a much shorter lease period at Braniff before returning to American. All in all, it spent around a month at the carrier, in a period spanning October to November in 1978. After spells at Air Afrique and Cargolux, this aircraft also ended its career at United. It was eventually broken up at Greenwood Leflore in 2000.

Braniff’s final 747-100 was N610BN, which it received in November 1978 after eight years at German flag carrier Lufthansa. Braniff returned the aircraft to its lessor, GATX Leasing, just under three years later, in October 1981. After a diverse carrier, this aircraft also ended up at Tower Air, and it was withdrawn in 2000. The following year, it was broken up at New York JFK.

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The remaining examples: -200s and SPs

A further four of Braniff’s 747s belonged to the aircraft’s -200 variant. They all arrived at the airline in a six-month spell spanning from November 1978 to May 1979. Braniff took delivery of two examples in the final month of this period alone!

Tower Air Boeing 747 Paris CDG
Multiple Braniff 747s went on to fly for Tower Air. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

While N620BN spent just a month with the airline before returning to CP Air, the other three examples enjoyed between two and four years of service at Braniff. After their time with the carrier, these aircraft went on to PEOPLExpress (N602BN), British Caledonian Airways (N611BN), and World Airways (N749WA) respectively.

Finally, Braniff also received three short-fuselage 747SP aircraft between October 1979 and May 1980. These left the airline between 1980 and 1983. Their next operators were Boeing itself (N603BN), Aerolineas Argentinas (N604BN), and Pan Am (N606BN)

Did you ever fly on a Braniff 747? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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