British Airways Boeing 747 In 4 Mile Retirement Flight

A British Airways Boeing 747, registration G-CIVG, has completed its final flight, landing at 11.18 am this morning at Cardiff airport. The aircraft flew from Cardiff to St Athan, flight number BA9172, where she was decommissioned. The trip was a distance of four miles and carried a total flight time of just 10 minutes.

BA 747
A British Airways Boeing 747. Photo: Wikimedia

In what must be one of the shortest flights in 747 history, a Boeing 747-436 aircraft landed in St Athan, Wales this morning after less than 10 minutes in the air. The aircraft took off from Cardiff Airport for its final flight before being decommissioned, to travel to neighboring RAF base, St Athan.

The aircraft was a little late taking off, getting off the ground at 11.09 rather than at 10 am as planned. Due to an easterly wind, the 747 was forced to circle round towards Cardiff city before approaching St Athan’s runway. Despite the small detour, the British Airways 747 landed safely at 11.18 am.

flight radar data
A graph of the aircraft’s final flight. Photo: FlightRadar

The aircraft was delivered to UK carrier British Airways in 1995, making it one of the oldest in the fleet. The airline announced plans earlier this year to retire all its Boeing 747 aircraft by 2024; the end of an era for many.

The last of the 747s

British Airways announced earlier this year that it plans to retire all its 747 jets by 2024. The airline is one of the last major carriers to still use the 747. Other airlines have already begun phasing the model out in favor of newer, more economical aircraft. British Airways has 34 747s to retire in total and has already announced the dates for the first 13. BA’s oldest 747 was 28 years old when it was retired in July of this year.

old Boeing 747 BOAC
A Boeing 747 in old BOAC livery in 1971. Photo: British Airways

Replacing the 747

As British Airways retires its classic 747s over the coming years, the question arises; what will they use instead? Well, British Airways has 18 Airbus A350-1000s, and 12 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners on order to replace its 747 fleet. The airline also recently placed an order for 18 Boeing 777X-9 aircraft. But can the 777X match the classic 747?

The Boeing 777X

In March of the year, Boeing announced its new 777X, clearly stating it was to be considered a replacement for the beloved 747. Boeing Vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth made the direct comparison:

“The big airplane of the future for the aviation industry is going to be the Boeing 777-9X. It carries 400 passengers. It flies further than the 747”

The 777X will be Boeing’s largest aircraft despite carrying fewer passengers than the 747 which could hold 410. The 747 could also fly further than the 777X-9 which can only go 13,940km compared to the 747s 15,000km. However, the 747 design is now outdated. It has four engines that offer only half the power of one of the two 777X engines. As the 747 is heavier, it is more expensive to run. The 777X is marketed as a modern redesign of the 747 with modern technology and engineering advantages.

A model of a boeing 77x-9
A model of the Boeing 777x-9. Photo: Wikimedia

CEO of IAG, owner of British Airways, Willie Walsh said this of the new 777X:

“The new B777X-9 is the world’s most fuel-efficient long-haul aircraft and will bring many benefits to British Airways’ fleet. It’s the ideal replacement for the Boeing 747 and its size and range will be an excellent fit for the airline’s existing network.”

What do you think of the new 777X? Will it be a good fit for BA as they retire their 747s? Are you sad to see the 747s retired? Let us know what you think below.