End of an era – Atlas Air takes delivery of last production 747

Avatar photo
by Emily Atkins

Atlas Air, Inc. took delivery this week of the final 747 ever to be produced by Boeing.

Boeing and Atlas Air joined thousands of people – including current and former employees as well as customers and suppliers – to celebrate the delivery of the final 747 to Atlas, bringing to a close more than a half century of production.

Boeing employees who designed and built the first 747, known as the ‘Incredibles’, returned to be honored at the Everett factory where the journey of the 747 began in 1967. The factory produced 1,574 airplanes over the life of the program.

John Dietrich, president and CEO of Atlas Air Worldwide, at the ceremony Boeing hosted to celebrate production of the final Boeing 747.

“This monumental day is a testament to the generations of Boeing employees who brought to life the airplane that ‘shrank the world,’ and revolutionized travel and air cargo as the first widebody,” said Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

“It is fitting to deliver this final 747-8 Freighter to the largest operator of the 747, Atlas Air, where the ‘queen’ will continue to inspire and empower innovation in air cargo.”

This aircraft is the last of four new Boeing 747-8 Freighters Atlas ordered in January 2021. Atlas Air will operate this aircraft for Apex Logistics, a Kuehne+Nagel company, under a long-term agreement.

“Our company’s history and success are directly linked to the 747 platform, and we are honored to continue our long history of flying this iconic aircraft for our customers around the world,” said John Dietrich, president and CEO, Atlas Air Worldwide.

“Atlas Air was founded over 30 years ago with a single 747-200 converted freighter. Since then, we have spanned the globe operating the 747 into well over 800 airports in over 170 countries with nearly every series of the aircraft, including Boeing’s 747 Large Cargo Freighter for the transport of 787 Dreamliner parts.”

As the first twin-aisle airplane and ‘jumbo jet’, the Queen of the Skies enabled airlines to connect people across vast distances and provide non-stop trans-oceanic flights. Its development solidified Boeing’s role as an industry leader in commercial aviation.

The airplane’s core design with its distinctive hump and seating in the upper deck has delighted generations of passengers and operators alike. Boeing continued to improve on the original design with models like the 747-400 in 1988 and the final 747-8 model that was launched in 2005.

“We’ve carried everything on the 747 from race cars to racehorses, from rocket parts to satellites, electronics, overnight express shipments – and various forms of perishables like fresh flowers, vegetables and fish. The 747 has also been critical to carrying life-saving goods like medicine, vaccines and personal protective equipment during the pandemic and other times of need,” Dietrich said.

“As the world’s largest operator of 747 freighters, Atlas is especially proud to take the last 747 ever to be built. We are grateful to Boeing for their shared commitment to safety, quality, innovation and the environment, and for their partnership to ensure the continued success of the 747 program as we operate the aircraft for decades to come.”

The 747-8 platform offers a 16 percent improvement in fuel use and CO2 emissions per tonne and a 30 percent smaller noise footprint compared to the previous generation of aircraft. The 747-8 is known for its payload capacity and range, as well as its unique nose-loading capability.


Atlas designed a custom split livery for this special aircraft, with the Atlas Air logo on the right side and tail of the aircraft, and the Apex Logistics logo on the left side. To honor the legacy of the ‘Queen of the Skies’, a special decal is included to the right of the nose featuring Joe Sutter, considered by Boeing to be the ‘Father of the 747’.

“The names we chose for the last two iconic aircraft fit their legacy – ‘Inspire.’ and ‘Empower.’,” said Yngve Ruud, Member of the Management Board of Kuehne+Nagel, responsible for Air Logistics.  “We are looking forward to see the last 747-8F aircraft taking off to fulfill the versatile needs of our customers around the world with unmatched capability.”