Sad but true…after putting in almost 20 years of service, Air New Zealand is pensioning off its first 747-400 to the scrapman. Boeing confirms to me that, according to their records, this will be the first -400 to specifically be retired and go to the breakers. The vast majority of 747-400s remain in active service, while a few have gone into storage, been dismantled after damage or destroyed in accidents.
(Air New Zealand photo)
The 747 is going as part of the airline’s drastic plan to cut capacity by almost 9%. The aircraft has been in storage since completing a biofuel demonstration flight in December. The airframe was one of the earliest 747-400s built and first flew in October 1989. Following delivery in December that year, it immediately went on lease to Cathay Pacific Airways before returning to spend the rest of its career with ANZ. During that 88,300 hr service life it carried 3.6 million passengers on 11,490 flights. Average utilization was more than 14 hr per day. The aircraft was one of eight acquired to replace ageing 747-200s, and is part of a fleet that itself will be replaced by five 777-300ERs on order for delivery from 2010 onwards. The aircraft are not being replaced on a one-for-one basis because of the current downward trend in long-haul passenger demand which ANZ sees as between 10 and 15%.
Next generation - cockpit section of the second 747-8 comes together at Everett. (Guy Norris)
Ironically the first 747-400 retirement takes place just as assembly nears completion on the first of the next generation 747-8s, and as the last production model -400ERF freighter is in pre-delivery flight tests at Everett. The aircraft, destined for Kuwait-based LoadAir Cargo, made its first flight in mid-May and is due for delivery in the third quarter, says Boeing.