The iconic Boeing 747, “Queen of the Skies”, has reached another milestone. El Al has flown its final 747 flight from Rome to Tel Aviv. To mark the occasion, the aircraft even flew in a very special pattern prior to landing in Israel.
El Al’s final Boeing 747 flight
LY1747 took off from Rome just after 11:00AM local time. About two hours into the flight, the aircraft began its descent and made some very special maneuvers for about two hours. In the end, the El Al flight had “painted” a Boeing 747 in the sky. You can see the flight path at Flightradar24.
787 set to replace the Boeing 747
With this flight, El Al will be ending services on the 747. As many airlines around the world have done, El Al will replace the aging four-engined aircraft with modern, fuel-efficient twinjet Boeing 787 aircraft.
El Al’s 787 offers a much-updated product compared to the 747. As such, passengers will likely have a better onboard experience on the new 787s than the old 747. The 787 has been deployed on some of El Al’s key long-haul routes including to New York-JFK and Chicago. Passengers in business class are in for a real treat with stylish flatbed seats. El Al lacked such modernity on the 747 aircraft.
Why the 747 mattered to El Al
El Al needed aircraft that had extensive range. Much of the neighboring airspace is closed off to El Al due to political restrictions. As a result, the carrier has to fly longer flights that circumvent restricted air space.
On routes to East and Southeast Asia, this is where the 747 comes in. Not only did the 747 carry a significant number of passengers, but it also had the range to safely fly the extended flight paths around closed-off airspace.
Not to mention, the 747 played a key role in Operation Solomon. In this operation, over 14,000 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel. El Al even broke a record. Its 747 carried over 1,000 people in the airlift. No other aircraft – not even an A380 – has reached that milestone, although the situation was somewhat different to scheduled passenger flights.
While it is sad to see another airline end services with the “Queen of the Skies”, the aging 747s are starting to reach the end of their service life. New aircraft are simply more fuel-efficient and deliver better results. In addition, maintaining and upgrading these aircraft would have been a costly undertaking. However, El Al gave the jumbo-jet a pretty fantastic send-off with this flight path.
Were you onboard this flight? What was it like? Will you miss seeing the 747 in El Al’s colors? Let us know in the comments!