Goodbye to the First of last ‘Queen of the Skies’, the B747

Goodbye to the First of last 'Queen of the Skies', the B747

Mumbai: On the morning of April 22, Air India commemorated the retirement of its venerable Boeing 747, affectionately dubbed the ‘Queen of the Skies.’ This storied aircraft has been a part of the TATA-operated fleet for almost 50 years, serving in various capacities including commercial flights, VVIP transport, and emergency evacuations. Since its inception in 1932, Air India has seen many aircraft come and go, but the Boeing 747 holds a special place in its history.

The Boeing 747’s final departure from Mumbai Airport, bound for the United States, was signified by a ceremonial ‘wing wave’—a maneuver where the aircraft tilts its wings alternately in a final salute. The Boeing 747 has played a pivotal role in Air India’s operations, notably during two critical medical evacuation missions to Wuhan, China, at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020.

In a touching tribute, Air India circulated a video of the Boeing 747’s last takeoff from Mumbai Airport, complete with the ‘wing wave,’ symbolizing the airline’s fond farewell to a key member of its fleet.

This final journey of the Boeing 747 became a sensation on flight tracking platforms, with the Mumbai airport operator sharing footage of the event that captivated spectators.

The Boeing 747, known as ‘Agra,’ took off from Mumbai Airport for the last time, having joined the Air India fleet in October 1996. The first Boeing 747 joined Air India in 1971, and the aircraft type served faithfully until its last scheduled commercial flight in March 2021.

Air India recently parted with its last four Boeing 747s, which had long been the preferred mode of travel for India’s dignitaries, including presidents, vice presidents, and prime ministers. These aircraft have now been succeeded by the Boeing 777s.

Boeing concluded the production of the ‘Queen of the Skies’ in July 2020, signaling a shift in market dynamics after a remarkable 52-year production run. Over this period, Boeing constructed 1,574 B747 aircraft for a clientele of more than 100 carriers, Air India being among them.

Following a period of financial challenges, Air India was acquired by the Tata Group in January 2022, marking a new chapter for the airline.

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