Another Queen Rescued: Lufthansa Pulls Last 747 Out Of Twente

Lufthansa has removed another Boeing 747-400 from storage. The aircraft departed from Twente as DLH1ENS, a unique flight number to signify the last 747-400 to be withdrawn from the facility. While Lufthansa’s newer Airbus A380s will likely never fly again, the 747-400 is expected to return to service by the end of the year.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Twente Airport
Lufthansa’s last Boeing 747-400 stored in the Netherlands has returned to Germany. Photo: Twente Airport via Twitter

Lufthansa has shaken up its fleet during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, while most remaining operators of the Boeing 747-400 have said goodbye to the Queen of the skies, Lufthansa is staying put with the type, albeit with a smaller fleet. The Boeing 747-400 fleet is currently planned to return to service in November.

D-ABTL removed from storage

Throughout 2021, we’ve seen Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-400 fleet slowly being brought out of storage. Most recently, this saw D-ABTL rejoining the fleet at Lufthansa’s Frankfurt stronghold. The aircraft departed from Enschede Airport (ENS) yesterday morning, becoming airborne just before 14:00, according to data from RadarBox.com.

The jet climbed to 16,000 feet in three steps for the short flight down to Frankfurt. Just 47 minutes after leaving Enschede, the plane touched down on Frankfurt’s Runway 07R. After landing, the aircraft completed a short taxi to a remote parking area near the airline’s main Boeing 747 maintenance hangar.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Twente Airport
The flight back home took less than an hour. Photo: RadarBox.com

D-ABTL is the youngest Boeing 747-400 remaining in the Lufthansa fleet, with an age of 19.58. According to data from ch-aviation.com, the aircraft first flew on February 28th, 2002. In the two decades since, the jet has racked up 89,738 flight hours across 10,871 flights, giving an average flight time of eight and a quarter hours. On average, it has been used for over 12 hours each day since delivery. The jet was sent to Enschede for storage in June 2020.

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Boeing 747 storage drama

D-ABTL’s return to Frankfurt will finally close the book on some legal drama that had been brewing regarding the Boeing 747-400’s storage in Enschede. Six of the aircraft were flown into the airport. However, Lufthansa found that it was unable to withdraw the aircraft. While they had landed without issue, it turned out that such large aircraft aren’t legally permitted to leave the facility.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Retired
At one point, it was thought that the aircraft would not be able to leave the facility. Photo: Getty Images

Thankfully, after some legal threats from different parties, the Dutch aviation regulator issued an exemption to allow the Boeing 747-400s to leave the airport on the condition that such an exemption wouldn’t be given again. Initially, the airline was told it would need to have removed the jets by early summer, but the deadline was extended, as is demonstrated by today’s flight.

According to Dutch publication Tubantia, the airport wishes to take Boeing 747 aircraft again in the future. To be certified for such flights, the airport would need to build a turning circle at the end of the runway. This would not be economical given the airport’s low movements. As such, the airport is said to be seeking an exemption to the rules in court.

What do you think of the Boeing 747-400’s recovery? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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