*****UPDATE: The aircraft was delivered as scheduled, with Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes stating:

“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.

“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.”*****

Boeing will bring down the curtain on production of the B747 jumbo later today, with a ceremony set to be attended by thousands of current and former employees, customers and suppliers.

The 1,574th and final B747 will be delivered to Atlas Air, marking the end of 55 years of production of the iconic aircraft.

The last jumbo to be built is a B747-8 Freighter – it rolled out of Boeing’s Everett Factory in December ahead of this week’s delivery.

Final B747 leaves Boeing’s Everett Factory

In July 2020 – shortly after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic – the manufacturer announced plans to cease production of its jumbo aircraft.

At the time Boeing had 16 B747 aircraft still to deliver – all freighter versions of the plane – and said it would stop production in 2022.

Boeing confirms end of B747 production

Atlas Air is the largest remaining operator of the B747, with a predominantly cargo fleet complemented by a handful of passenger jumbos used for VIP charter services.

The B747 first entered service with Pan Am in January 1970, and passenger and freighter versions of the aircraft continue to be flown by around 70 airlines worldwide.

But many major carriers have retired their B747 fleets in recent years, in favour of more fuel efficient aircraft.

Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic waved goodbye to their last jumbos in 2020, with several of BA’s B747s destined for new lives as film setsprivate cinemas and permanent exhibitions.

A live webcast of the final delivery can be seen here at 2100 GMT on Tuesday January 31 – after which it will be made available on the Boeing website.