In its century-long history, Avianca has hit the skies with many different aircraft models. One type that sticks out as a past fleet member for the flag carrier of Colombia is the Boeing 747. The Queen of the Skies was a valuable jet for the airline. However, it has been nearly three decades since it flew for the company. Here is a look at what happened to the firm’s units.
Leading the way
Avianca has often shown its pioneering character in South American aviation. Therefore, it was the first carrier in Latin America to serve passengers with the jumbo, and it held a few different variants of the type.
According to Planespotters.net, Avianca held seven Boeing 747 units within its fleet. The first 747-100 passenger variant, registration HK-2000, was delivered on lease in November 1976. However, the airline returned it to Boeing in January 1983, and it hopped around airlines for several months until the end of the year when Avianca took it back on as N747BA.
The operator handed the jet back to the manufacturer a month later and it was passed around several carriers such as Air Jamaica, Air Europe, and Saudi Arabian Airlines before Tower Air received it for the last time in September 1998, which subsequently retired the plane.
The first cargo unit to arrive was a leased 747-100(F) in July 1981. Registration HK-2400X was with El Al for four years before making its way to Colombia. Subsequently, it made its way back to the Israeli airline in July 1982 before retiring.
Another -100 cargo variant arrived at Avianca’s facilities in the same month the first one left. HK-2900X would last longer than the previous unit, performing with the carrier for six years until August 1988. It was transferred to Flying Tiger Line and hopped around the cargo airline scene. It subsequently retired with Polar Air Cargo in August 1994.
Registration N9664, another passenger -100, was leased by Avianca in May 1984 after it served American Airlines for 14 years. The plane was handed over to Citicorp Leasing in March 1987 and spent time at Cargolux and United Airlines. The aircraft was eventually handed to Boeing in December 1998, which was the last company to hold it.
A Boeing 747-200M joined Avianca in June 1979 and went through two registration changes to HK-2980X and EI-CEO. It lasted for a long time in the carrier’s fleet until it was transferred to Tower Air in February 1995. Kalitta Air was the last operator to take it on, doing so in May 2005. The plane now remains in storage.
HK-2910X was another -200M. This unit arrived in August 1982. However, it met a tragic end on November 23rd, 1983 when it crashed in Madrid. There were 181 fatalities following the accident.
TF-ABW was the last 747 to be delivered. The -100 arrived in December 1995 before being handed over to Canada’s Air Club International in June 1996. Iberia was the last operator after it took it on in May 1998. The plane has since been scrapped.
Leaving a legacy
Altogether, Avianca now performs its widebody operations with its Airbus A330s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Nonetheless, the Queen of the Skies has shown once again how much airlines across the globe relied on it over the decades.
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