The Boeing 747 is becoming an increasingly rare aircraft. The popular 747-400 variant isn’t getting any younger, and production of the new 747-8 runs at a fairly low level. Nonetheless, there are still a good number of very well-used examples of the jumbo left.
According to ch-aviation.com, there are presently 33 active aircraft from the 747 family with more than 100,000 flight hours on the clock. Let’s take a closer look at where you can find these busy quadjets, and the sorts of flights they operate. As ever, it is worth noting that aspects like data availability may prevent the following list from being fully exhaustive.
Impressively, South Korean carrier Asiana Airlines operates all five of the world’s most flown Boeing 747s. These quadjets all fly for its cargo division, with three having the -400BDSF suffix (BeDek Special Freighter). The other two are examples of the -400F(SCD) variant, signifying that these freighters have a Side Cargo Door. Overall, Asiana has 11 747 freighters.
Of these aircraft, the most well-used is HL7413. As of July 2021, this 30.16-year-old cargo-carrying 747-400 had amassed an incredible 136,569 hours across 23,480 flight cycles. This works out at an annual average of 4,572 hours across 786 cycles, with a daily usage rate of 12 hours and 32 minutes. Its average cycle length is five hours and 49 minutes.
The other four Asiana 747s that make up the top five had amassed between 125,773 and 133,507 hours at the time of the last recording. Asiana also has a further three 747s outside the top five, which have accrued 105,959, 111,187, and 111,342 hours. The latter two of these rank ninth and 10th, meaning that Asiana flies seven of the world’s 10 most-used 747s.
As will become evident over the course of the article, the vast majority of the 33 747s with more than 100,000 flight hours are freighters. However, four passenger-carrying examples of the 747-400 have also cracked six figures, of which three belong to Lufthansa.
Of these, the most well-used is 23.82-year-old D-ABVM, with 107,927 hours amassed over 12,847 flight cycles. This is just four more flight cycles than D-ABVU, which has accrued 106,301 flight hours during its 22.96-year-long career, which it has spent entirely at the German carrier. D-ABVX is the third and final example, with 100,580 hours on the clock.
The only non-Lufthansa passenger-carrying 747-400 to have exceeded 100,000 flight hours at the last measurement belongs to Longtail Aviation. However, this ex-Virgin Atlantic jumbo, which has amassed 101,684 hours across 12,915 cycles, is also set to be converted for cargo work. Registered as VQ-BZV, it has been with Longtail since April 2021.
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Air Atlanta Icelandic
Returning to cargo-carrying 747s, six of the 33 examples with more than 100,000 hours on the clock belong to Air Atlanta Icelandic. Two of these rank in the top 10, placing seventh and eighth. The busiest of the pair is TF-AMR, which has accrued 114,537 hours during 21,233 cycles across a career that has lasted nearly 27 years. It is presently on lease at Saudia.
Saudia also flies Air Atlanta Icelandic’s second-most well-used 747 on an ACMI basis. Registered as TF-AMA, this 26.87-year-old quadjet has racked up 113,577 hours of flying time during 21345 cycles throughout its career. It originally flew for Taiwan’s EVA Air.
Interestingly, Air Atlanta Icelandic’s oldest 747 with more than 100,000 flight hours only ranks third of the six, with 109,110 on the clock. Registered as TF-AMP, this mighty four-engined freighter is 31.12 years old, having entered service with ANA in 1990.
The remaining three Air Atlanta Icelandic 747s with six-digit usage figures are all within 1,000 hours of each other. These range from 100,728 (TF-AMC) to 101,579 (TF-AMI). Situated between them is TF-AMB with 101,230 hours, which is also currently on lease at Saudia.
US-based Atlas Air is another carrier with multiple entries among the 33 747s with more than 100,000 flight hours. All in all, this Purchase, New York State-headquartered carrier has five jumbos with six-digit usage figures, of which the busiest is N472MC. Ranking sixth overall, this aircraft is the most well-used active 747 that doesn’t belong to Asiana. In 29.13 years of flying, it has amassed a total of 118,469 flight hours across 19,845 cycles.
Atlas Air’s other four well-used 747s, which carry the BDSF, BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter), and F(SCD) suffixes, have amassed between 103,434 and 108,738 flight hours. Interestingly, the oldest of these (N429MC, 31.2 years old) has completed the fewest cycles. Nonetheless, it ranks third among Atlas Air’s 747s for usage, having accrued 108,427 flight hours.
Also a US-based cargo airline, Kalitta Air has six 747s on its books that had racked up more than 100,000 flight hours at the time of the last recording. This includes 28.8-year-old N743CK, which, with 110,863 hours across 17,673 cycles, just misses out on the top 10.
The usage figures for Kalitta Air’s other five six-digit 747s range between 101,117 (N708CK) and 109,949 (N742CK) flight hours. It is particularly interesting to note that second-placed (in terms of Kalitta Air 747s) N742CK ranks below N743CK despite being more than three years older (31.95 vs 28.8 years). It does, however, come out on top in terms of cycles.
The best of the rest
The final three examples of active 747s with more than 100,000 hours on the clock can be found in Europe, and specifically in the Benelux region. Two belong to Luxembourg-based Cargolux, having racked up 105,048 (LX-RCV) and 103,148 (LX-OCV) flight hours.
Last but not least is Dutch-based Martinair’s PH-MPS. This 31.55-year-old Boeing 747-400BCF has accrued an impressive 108,426 flight hours across 20,438 cycles, having previously flown for Singapore Airlines and Air India. At the time of writing, data from RadarBox.com showed that its last flight took it from Nairobi to Amsterdam, arriving early this morning.
What do you make of these well-used 747s? Have you flown on any of the passenger-carrying examples? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!