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Boeing's last 747 jumbo jet leaves factory after 50-year run

After 50 years in the sky, the ubiquitous Boeing (BA) 747 has reached the end of its runway.

At the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington, the very last 747 is scheduled to leave its massive hangar destined for air cargo client Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings.

The plane, Boeing's 1,574th jumbo jet, will have its test flight tonight before being painted and delivered early next year.

“It’s kind of a sad occasion,” said Jon Sutter, the grandson of Boeing aircraft designer Joe Sutter, known as the father of the 747.

EVERETT, WASHINGTON  - JUNE 13: A Boeing 747-8 Freighter sits on the assembly line June 13, 2012 at the Boeing Factory in Everett, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
EVERETT, WASHINGTON - JUNE 13: A Boeing 747-8 Freighter sits on the assembly line June 13, 2012 at the Boeing Factory in Everett, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Boeing says the plant where 747s are assembled is the largest building (by volume) in the world. It was built originally for the start of 747 production back in 1967, with the jumbo jet’s first commercial flight coming in 1970. The massive 747 flew hundreds of passengers comfortably and efficiently across the globe — making long haul international travel more attainable to people around the world. Commercial versions of the 747 could easily transport over 400 passengers, with a range that could reach 8,000 nautical miles.

American actor John Travolta stands in front of the first production 747-400
Extended Range jetliner delivered to Australia's Qantas Airways in Everett,
Washington on October 30, 2002. Travolta, who is a commercial pilot
qualified to fly numerous aircraft including the 747 jetliner, is Qantas'
goodwill ambassador. He recently completed a 41,632-mile world tour flying
his personally owned 707 jetliner. REUTERS/Anthony P. Bolante

APB
American actor John Travolta stands in front of the first production 747-400 Extended Range jetliner delivered to Australia's Qantas Airways in Everett, Washington on October 30, 2002. Travolta, who is a commercial pilot qualified to fly numerous aircraft including the 747 jetliner, is Qantas' goodwill ambassador. He recently completed a 41,632-mile world tour flying his personally owned 707 jetliner. REUTERS/Anthony P. Bolante APB

The current 747, known as the 747-8, was announced back in November, 2005, with the first cargo version delivered in August, 2011. The passenger versions of the 747 were retired from commercial fleets years ago, while the cargo version of the plane continues to fly.

With the 747 bowing out, Boeing's only other wide-body jets are the 787 Dreamliner and the 777, the world’s largest twin-jet plane. However, the next-gen version of the 777, dubbed the 777X, has been delayed multiple times, with Boeing now stating first deliveries will begin in 2025, following FAA certification. The 777X can hold 426 passengers, with a range of over 7,285 nautical miles.

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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