British Airways’ Final Heathrow-Based Boeing 747 Prepares for Take-Off

Tomorrow morning, British Airways’ final two London Heathrow based Boeing 747 aircraft are scheduled to depart for the last time. One aircraft is painted in its heritage ‘Negus’ livery and the other in its current Chatham Dockyard livery.

To commemorate G-CIVB and G-CIVY’s final take-off from the airport at 8:30 a.m., the airline has arranged a special send-off with a unique and rarely seen synchronized dual take off on parallel runways (The departure of the aircraft and dual runway take-off is weather dependant and could be subject to change on the day), which will be followed by fly-by along the southerly runway by one of the aircraft (G-CIVY in current BA livery) as it bids its home a final farewell.

British Overseas Airways Corporation merged in 1974 to create British Airways. Image: BA

Keeping spectators safe for the special occasion, British Airways will be live streaming moments from the departure on Facebook and is also inviting its colleagues, aviation enthusiasts, and passengers to share any special memories or photos of British Airways’ 747s on social media channels at 7:47 a.m. and 7:47 p.m. tomorrow using the hashtag #BA747farewell.

BOAC Boeing 747-400 Premium Cabin. Image: BA

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said “Tomorrow will be a difficult day for everybody at British Airways as the aircraft leaves our home at Heathrow for the very last time. We will pay tribute to them for the incredible part they have played in our 100-year history and to the millions of customers and BA colleagues who have flown on board and taken care of them.

While British Airways hadn’t planned on retiring its 747s for a few more years, the pandemic accelerated that plan due to the reduced need for the aircraft. Thousands of British Airways flight crew, cabin crew, and engineering teams have worked over several decades on and with the aircraft during their time at British Airways during a period when they represented the heart of the airline’s long-haul fleet. 

British Airways expects the last 747s (currently positioned in Wales) to leave the fleet by the end of the year. However, these 747s are not currently flying commercial schedules, but instead, they are being used for cargo flights.

British Airways’ Boeing 747 in the One World Alliance livery. Image: BA

Fleet Details

British Airways 747 G-CIVB

Date it entered serviceFebruary 15, 1994
Retirement dateSeptember 8, 2020
Popular/recent routesLast passenger flight was April 6, 2020 from Miami to Heathrow
LiveryCurrent livery: Negus
Previous livery: Landor and was named ‘City of Litchfield’
Fact and stats(approx.)Operated 13,398 flights
Flown for 118,445 hours
Flown 59 million miles

British Airways 747 G-CIVY

Date it entered serviceSeptember 29, 1998
Retirement dateSeptember 8, 2020
Popular/recent routesMarch 20, 2020 – Last passenger flight from Chicago to Heathrow
April 5, 2020 – Last freighter flight from Dallas to Heathrow
LiveryChatham Dockyard
Fact and stats(approx.)Operated 11,034 flights
Flown for 90,161 hours
Flown 45 million miles

Facts and stats

  • Boeing has been manufacturing 747 aircraft for more than 50 years
  • BOAC flew its first 747 flight on April 14, 1971
  • British Airways took delivery of its first 747-400 in July 1989 and its last in April 1999
  • At its height, the airline had a fleet of 57 747-400s
  • British Airways was the world’s biggest operator of 747-400 aircraft
  • The 747-400 has 6ft high winglets on the tips of its wings to improve efficiency
  • It has 16 main wheels and two landing nose wheels
  • The wings of a 747-400 span 213ft and are big enough to accommodate 50 parked cars
  • The tail height of 64ft is equivalent to a six-story building
  • The 747-400 is 231ft long
British Airways 747 in Landor livery arrives at London Heathrow on March 9, 2019. Image: Nick Morrish/British Airways
The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, and a British Airways Boeing 747 delighted the crowds with a flypast at this year’s Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford. The Boeing 747 has been painted in the airline’s predecessor British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) livery to mark British Airways’ centenary this year. This weekend, the Red Arrows are performing in the UK for the final time this season – before embarking on their biggest-ever tour of North America. Imagery is taken from Red 10’s aircraft piloted by Red 10, Sqn Ldr Adam Collins with Circus 10, Cpl Ashley Keates, Photographer in the rear seat. Image: BA
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