How An El Al 707 That Never Flew For Lufthansa Got Its Livery

Today, almost 300 parts of a former El Al Boeing 707 went up for auction, alongside another Boeing 707 and other miscellaneous aircraft parts. Interestingly, the El Al Boeing 707 was turned into pieces in an old Lufthansa livery, despite never flying for the airline. But how did it end up in this paint scheme? Simple Flying decided to find out.

Lufthansa, Boeing 707, Scrapped
This aircraft never flew for Lufthansa. Why does it wear the German carrier’s livery? Photo: Getty Images

A 60-year-old Boeing 707

The story of the Boeing 707, formerly known as 4X-ATB, starts 60 years ago in 1961. According to AeroTransport Data Bank (ATDB.aero), the aircraft with the manufacturer’s serial number 18071 first flew that year, having been built by Boeing.

El Al took delivery of the aircraft on June 7th of that same year. The Israeli carrier flew the aircraft for the next 25 and a bit years. The plane was additionally leased to another Israeli carrier, Arkia, for two four-month periods in 1984 and 1985.

El Al, Boeing 707, Lufthansa
El Al took delivery of 4X-ATB from Boeing in 1961. Photo: Dietrich Eggert via Wikimedia (CC 4.0)

Involved in a hijacking

In 1970 the aircraft became well known for its involvement in a hijacking incident. On September 6th, the plane was due to fly from Amsterdam to New York’s JFK airport as flight LY219.

After takeoff, two individuals with a gun and a hand grenade attempted to storm the cockpit, according to Aviation Safety Network. After a scuffle, one hijacker was overpowered, with another being shot dead by an El Al sky marshal. Though activated, the grenade didn’t go off, and the pilots diverted to London Heathrow Airport.

Time to say goodbye to 4X-ATB

In 1986, some 25 years after it had taken delivery of the aircraft, El Al decided that it was time to say goodbye to 4X-ATB. Many aircraft today at such an age are stored, scrapped, or converted into freighters. 4X-ATB ended up being returned to Boeing.

El Al, Lufthansa, Boeing 707, Auction
El Al returned the jet to Boeing after 25 years in service. Photo: Dietrich Eggert via Wikimedia (CC 4.0)

Boeing kept the aircraft for just a couple of months. According to aeroTELEGRAPH.de, the aircraft was then gifted to Lufthansa by the American aerospace giant. The gift was to commemorate the airline’s 200th aircraft order, and it seems a paperweight wouldn’t have done the job.

The aircraft was then repainted in the Lufthansa livery once worn by the airline’s other Boeing 707s. It seems that the aircraft that actually flew as D-ABOC and named Berlin had already been scrapped by this point in time, so 4X-ATB assumed its identity.

The aircraft ended up at Berlin Tegel Airport. After all, it made sense for the aircraft ‘named’ Berlin to be situated in Berlin. Initially, the plane was a popular addition to the airport, taking pride of place on a roundabout approaching the airport.

Lufthansa, Boeing 707, Auction
While looking stunning by a roundabout, ‘D-ABOC’ fell into a state of disrepair. Photo: Getty Images

However, as time went on, it was moved airside and parked at the edge of the airport near a forest. Here, the exterior of the aircraft began to fall into disrepair. aeroTELEGRAPH reports that Lufthansa ended up donating the aircraft to the Museum of Transport Technology.

The publication reports that the museum didn’t really want to accept the aircraft in a separate article. As part of the donation, Lufthansa agreed to any costs that may arise relating to the aircraft.

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Up for auction

Late last year, Tegel Airport was finally closed around a decade behind schedule. With the airport’s closure, there was no way that the aircraft could remain where it was. Moving the jet, which was in poor condition by this point, would’ve attracted high costs.

Instead, the decision was made to part out the aircraft. The pieces are now listed in a month-long auction being held by Dechow and Troostwijk. The auction’s highlight is the cockpit of 4X-ATB, with a starting bid of €5,000 ($5,870). There are roughly 300 other parts of the aircraft also listed, with pieces of fuselage starting at €5 ($5.87).

Lufthansa, Boeing 707, Auction
Almost 300 parts of the aircraft are now up for auction. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

More than one plane up for auction

In an interesting turn of fate, at roughly the same time that the decision to scrap 4X-ATB was made, Hamburg Airport decided to scrap its Boeing 707. This aircraft had actually flown for Lufthansa as D-ABOD. After 15 years in flight and 15 years as a trainer for Lufthansa Technik, the airport bought it for €1 ($1.17).

While an attempt was made to save the aircraft from being scrapped, a suitable solution that all could agree on could not be found. Earlier this year, the jet was scrapped, and parts moved to Dechow’s warehouse, also located in Hamburg. While this aircraft flew for Lufthansa, it isn’t wearing the Lufthansa livery like 4X-ATB. Instead, the aircraft parts are wearing a fictitious red, white and blue livery of Hamburg Airport.

Lufthansa, Boeing 707, Auction
The other aircraft wears a fictitious red, white, and blue Hamburg livery. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Like 4X-ATB, D-ABOD is also up for auction, with the highlight being the aircraft’s cockpit, again starting at €5,000. Prices for parts of D-ABOD also start at €5, with a cabin crew telephone station beginning at this price.

A further 297 lots are also available in a third auction being held by Dechow, featuring miscellaneous aviation-related items such as aircraft models and instruments. Dechow’s auctions can be accessed at the following locations,

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The auctions will remain open for the next month. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The auctions will remain open until October 24th at 15:00. At this point, the highest bidder of each item will be invited to pay for it. Once payment is received, the process of distributing the objects will begin. For smaller items, the auction house intends to mail them via UPS.

Meanwhile, larger items, such as aircraft engines and cockpits will require specialist transportation. Dechow can help with organizing this if requested. The company hopes to ship all 1,000 odd items within one to two weeks of receiving payment, meaning that everything should arrive in time for Christmas.

Will you be bidding on a part of 4X-ATB or D-ABOD? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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