The iconic Boeing 747 has been given the majestic nickname ‘Queen of the Skies’. With a venerable run, the aircraft first rolled out in 1968. Since then, millions of passengers have had the phenomenal opportunity to fly on the one-of-a-kind jumbo jet. Did you know that some of the first Boeing 747s are still in operation? Let’s find out where.
The oldest Boeing 747s in operation
Between the Iranian Air Force and United States Air Force, the two groups operate the eight oldest Boeing 747s as per data from Planespotters. The oldest, EP-AJT, was the fifth 747 to roll off the assembly line. At over 50 years old, it first flew for TWA as N93101. This plane currently flies for the Iran Air Force. The next two oldest 747s also fly for the Iran Air Force and are about 49 years old.
The US Air Force operates four special 747s that are 45 to 47 years old. These are called Boeing E-4Bs. These aircraft are part of the National Military Command System for the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They are incredibly special aircraft and can serve as an aerial command center in case of a national emergency where ground command and control centers are destroyed. The E-4Bs can provide leaders secure communications and control centers for executing wartime orders and coordinating actions with the military. This aircraft is based on the Boeing 747-200.
Other older Boeing 747s operate as VIP aircraft. This includes transport for heads of state like the Sultan of Oman and the Saudi Arabian Government. Military and VIP aircraft operate fewer flight cycles, which means more downtime for maintenance.
Boeing’s Dreamlifter, the large cargo transport, was made from converted Boeing 747-400s. The oldest of the Dreamlifter is just over 30 years old, N249BA. This Boeing 747 flew for China Airlines for about 15 years before Boeing took it over.
What about passenger operations?
The oldest Boeing 747 passenger jet flies for Mahan Air as EP-MNB. This aircraft is about 31 years old and flew first for United Airlines. The 747-400 spent some time on the ground before Mahan Air took it on in 2009. While Mahan Air kept the aircraft on the ground for some time, it came back into service in 2019 and has been flying since then.
Mahan Air is an Iranian airline that, due to sanctions, is unable to acquire newer aircraft. As a result, it has to operate old aircraft and keep them in good working order.
The next oldest passenger Boeing 747 flies for Wamos Air, EC-KXN, which is 26 years old.
Air China operates two Boeing 747-400 jets that are 26 and 25 years old, respectively.
One of the largest operators of the Boeing 747, British Airways, has some Boeing 747-400s that are over 22 years old. However, some of these are currently stored due to the ongoing crisis. It is unclear how many (or if any) of these aircraft will return to service.
Older Boeing 747s are being phased out due to the current crisis. The aircraft has served for a venerable amount of time and will continue to fly in VIP and air force capacities. However, when it comes to passengers, the oldest 747s will likely see the end of their service line in the near future.
As for older 747s that are not flying for VIP or government operators, many have been converted to freighters, which extends their lifespan. Expect some older 747s to head to conversions in order to support supply chains around the world.
Will you miss the older 747s? What are your favorite 747 memories? Let us know in the comments!