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Eurolanche bids farewell to the Jumbo Jet

Eurolanche bids farewell to the Jumbo JetBritish Airways will retire their fleet of legendary planes Eurolanche traveled with on their journey from London to Denver.

On their journey from Europe to Colorado, the participants of the most recent Eurolanche Invasions used one of the fastest means of travel available – flying from Vienna to Denver with a layover in London. Such a journey took the Invasions groups approximately 15 hours, including waiting time.

For their flight from London to Denver, Eurolanche members often flew on board the Boeing 747-400, better known as the Jumbo Jet. As reported by numerous media sources, British Airways has informed its employees via a written memo that the company is retiring the legendary airplane from its portfolio due to the coronavirus pandemic effective immediately. Originally, British Airways’ Jumbo Jet fleet was scheduled to be retired in 2024. Following the announcement, the company will retire of total of 31 airplanes, which will force more than 600 pilots trained to fly the Jumbo Jet to either get requalified for newer airplane types or be left unemployed. The company’s Jumbo Jet fleet will be continuously replaced by newer 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 planes. British Airways also added that it doesn’t expect passenger demand to return to pre-coronavirus levels sooner than 2024.

As a participant of almost every single Eurolanche Invasion to date, I travelled from Europe to the US almost always on board of a Jumbo Jet. Even though the interior of BA’s fleet was dated to say the least, I’ve always felt safe while on board. As an aviation fan, I was aware of the plane’s legendary status and thus happy for each flight I had the opportunity to take. I thought that I would have the chance to take a little more. I’ll always remember its beautiful exterior, its typical blue seats, the journeys I shared with other Invasion participants, the exact locations of lavatories, the old monitor, sleeping on multiple seats when there weren’t many passengers or watching Canada’s frozen landscape after making it over the Atlantic and arriving in North America.

British Airways owned the Boeing 747-400 model since 1989. In total, BA used around 100 Boeing 747-400 planes since its inclusion in the company’s portfolio and used as much as 57 at the same time at peak usage. The company’s last Jumbo Jet flight took to the skies on June 2, carrying British repatriates from Cape Town to London.

The Boeing 747 has been produced in different versions ever since 1968, with its maiden flight taking place a year later. Since then, a total of 1558 747-type planes have been produced. Boeing plans to discontinue the 747’s production in two years. Prior to the announcement, British Airways owned the biggest 747 fleet, with German airline Lufthansa now remaining with the biggest fleet, owning a total of 28 such planes, although it has already retired 5 due to the coronavirus pandemic and will likely retire more in the near future.

The creation of Boeing’s 747 represents a milestone in aviation history. Thanks to its big passenger capacity, airline travel became much more accessible and affordable, earning the 747 the nickname Queen of the Skies.

As of today, there have been 29 Jumbo Jet accidents that have resulted in fatalities. The total includes the deadliest aviation accident to date, which occurred in 1977 when two 747s collided on the runway at Tenerife Airport due to bad weather conditions, resulting in 583 fatalities.

Quick facts:

  • maximum passenger capacity: 345
  • length: 70.9 meters
  • wingspan: 64.4 meters (could fit approx. 50 cars)
  • height: 19.4 meters
  • maximum speed: 988 km/h (among the fastest planes to date)
  • maximum total range: 13,450 km

And what will happen with the retired planes? Part of the fleet will be scrapped, some components may be refitted for different plane types, some planes could become restaurants or hotels, or be used for first responder training. It’s also possible that private companies could sell smaller plane parts as souvenirs and memorabilia.

Translated by Michal Hezely

Photo courtesy: David Puchovsky (Eurolanche Invasions 2016-2020)

David Puchovsky, Slovakia,
21/07/2020 - 19:30


NHL on Nov 11, 2017: "Eurolanche is the world's largest Colorado Avalanche fan club."