- United Airlines, one of the first carriers to operate the Boeing 747, has retired its last model from service
- United Flight 747 flew from San Francisco to Honolulu Tuesday – the same route the first aircraft took in 1970
- Passengers were treated to a Seventies themed trip with a retro menu and cabin crew in vintage uniforms
- The 747 will now be taken to a boneyard in the Californian desert to be dismanteled and replaced with the 777
Published: 06:15 EST, 8 November 2017 | Updated: 06:16 EST, 8 November 2017
It is known as the Queen of the Skies – the world's first jumbo jet that forever changed the face of plane travel.
And on Tuesday United Airlines' last Boeing 747 was given a send-off befitting royalty as the last aircraft in the company's service completed its final flight.
United Flight 747 took off from San Francisco airport around midday bound for Hawaii, the same route the company's first version of the aircraft flew back in 1970.
Tickets for the specially chartered voyage sold out within hours of being released, according to USA Today, despite selling for upwards of $550 for a one-way trip.
United Airlines has retired its last Boeing 747 aircraft, 47 years after the world's first jumbo jet took to the skies bor the airline by flying from San Francisco to Honolulu
United Flight 747 chartered the same route on Tuesday with a special Seventies themed flight which included a retro menu, flight attendants in vintage uniforms and passengers in costume
United was one of the first airlines to fly the 747 which was designed as the world's largest passenger aircraft and heralded the start of the age of air travel for the masses
Passengers paid up to $550 for a one-way trip on the flight, and fully embraced the spirit of nostalgia with Hawaiian shirts and retro luggage as they posed alongside United stewardesses in vintage uniform
Others chose to dress as pilots in order to pose with the crew – recalling the golden age of air travel
These two men donned jumpsuits and fuzzy wigs, while one clutched a fake cigarette between his lips, recalling a time when it was acceptable to smoke on planes
The voyage the travelers took was not just across the Pacific Ocean but also back in time, as United put on a special Seventies-themed trip including a retro menu and cabin accessories.
Air crew were dressed in vintage uniforms while some passengers also came in costumes recalling the golden age of jet travel. One man even held a fake cigarette in his lips – a throwback to when smoking was allowed on board.
United CEO Oscar Munoz was even present for the occasion, speaking to passengers from the aircraft's bulbous upper deck – perhaps its most iconic feature – before takeoff.
'It’s a grand finale, no question,' he told those on board. 'A fitting send-off in the most dignified way for the "Queen of the Skies".'
The Boeing 747 was introduced in 1970 and completed its first ever flight with Pan Am, which had commissioned the airliner four years earlier to replace the diminutive 707 amid rising passenger numbers and airport congestion.
It was to be the first ever wide-body aircraft, nicknamed a 'jumbo jet', and designed to hold 150 per cent more passengers than the 707.
This was partly achieved by the introduction of a raised upper deck at the front which gave the aircraft its bulbous-nosed look. The extra weight would be carried by four jet engines – another distinguishing feature.
United Airlines aircraft Friend Ship is pictured at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in 1973
For the final flight, United even kitted its last 747 out with vintage livery on the side, exactly as it appeared in the Seventies
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz saw the plane take off Tuesday, saying it was a fitting send-off for The Queen of the Skies
Mr Munoz speaks with United Airlines captain Tom Spratt who was given the honor of piloting the airline's last 747 flight
Passengers, some decked out in retro Hawaiian shirts with flower garlands, wait to board the final 747 flight in San Francisco
On January 15, 1970, First Lady Pat Nixon helped christen the first 747 at Dulles International Airport in Washington DC, before the plane entered service on January 22 on Pan Am's New York to London route.
Initial omens were not good – the flight had been due to take off the previous evening but engine overheating rendered the original aircraft unusable and a second had to be brought in.
However, the aircraft would go on to defy all expectations. Boeing anticipated it would become obsolete before the Nineties, believing that supersonic jets would overtake conventional aircraft.
In fact the 747 is still in production with current orders placed by a number of developing countries which will potentially see it serving into 2030.
While the aircraft's life is limited in the US – with Delta the only airline still flying the craft and due to retire it later this year – other major carriers will continue operating it well into the next decade.
British Airways, which now operates 36 of the aircraft, more than any other airline, has confirmed it will be phasing it out – but will not part ways with it entirely until 2024.
Even once it has disappeared from passenger routes, it is expected the 747 will go on to serve many more years as a cargo plane.
New kid on the block: The efficient 747 replacement
The 747 was designed to provide seating for growing numbers of passengers and heralded the beginning of the age air travel for the masses.
Now its replacement, the Boeing 777, has been designed to tackle the problems of its own age – primarily fuel efficiency.
Improvements in jet technology mean it can carry around the same number of passengers as the 747 but only uses two engines to do so, drastically reducing the amount of fuel consumed.
A United Airlines Boeing 777 aircraft pictured earlier this year. The plane has only two engines, compared to the 747's four, making it more efficient and therefore less costly to run
That means the airline has to buy less fuel and pay less in carbon taxes – savings which can be passed on to customers, allowing carriers to remain competitive in the age of budget airline travel.
It also has a longer range than the 747, opening up the possibility of more direct routes. This was one of the hidden benefits of the original aircraft, and a reason it gained such popularity.
Entering service in 1995, it is the most successful jumbo jet ever made with almost 2,000 orders placed as of September 2017. By comparison, the 747 only passed the 1,000 order mark in 1993 and will likely never reach 2,000.
The biggest buyer of 777 aircraft has been Emirates which owns 161 of the planes operating on passenger and freight routes, which would have been unthinkable for a Middle Eastern carrier back in the Seventies.
However, it was United that was the first to fly the jet on its London to Dulles International Airport route, with the flight taking off on June 7, 1995.
The 777 is able to carry the same number of passengers despite having two less engines. Pictured above is the standard seat configuration for a United 777 aircraft
By the numbers: Boeing 747 and 777
First produced: 1968
First flight: 1970
Length: 70m (231ft)
Wingspan: 64m (211 ft)
Capacity (typical): Up to 396 passengers
Range: 7,260 nautical miles
Number ordered (as of September 2017): 1,553
Unit cost (most popular variant): $268million
Accidents (where aircraft was scrapped): 60
Deaths due to accidents: 3,722
First produced: 1993
First flight: 1995
Length: 74m (242ft)
Wingspan: 65m (213ft)
Capacity (typical) Up to 396 passengers
Range: 7,820 nautical miles
Number ordered (as of September 2017): 1,945
Unit cost (most popular variant): $320million
Accidents (where aircraft was scrapped): 6
Deaths due to accidents: 541
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Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms
The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.
The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.
All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.
It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.
British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.
The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.
The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.
It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.
“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.
“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”
The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.
It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128
Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official
Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.
The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.
Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.
Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.
“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.
“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.
Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”
However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.
Australia’s tight restrictions
The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.
Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.
A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.
Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.
Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.
Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.
Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.
The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.
While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.
Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.
In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581
Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection
The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.
Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.
Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.
It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.
The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.
Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”
“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.
“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”
Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.
Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.
For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.
Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.
A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.
Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane
Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane
At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.
When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.
Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.
While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.
But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.
And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.
And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836
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