MIAMI — Boeing’s 1,500th Boeing 747 (Lufthansa’s 14th Boeing 747-8) arrived in Frankfurt, Germany yesterday morning. This delivery marks a significant milestone for both the airline and the manufacturer.
Since the 1970s, Lufthansa has received 76 Boeing 747s from Boeing while Boeing has produced more 1,500 747s.
In a press release, Lufthansa writes “What started as the first training flight with the new Boeing 747 over the mountains east of Seattle in October 1969 went on to become an icon of the Lufthansa fleet, and, indeed, of commercial aviation as a whole. On 9 March 1970, the then Lufthansa CEO Herbert Culmann took delivery of the first Lufthansa Boeing 747-130 in front of the factory in Everett. The aircraft’s production number was 12 and its Lufthansa registration was D-ABYA.”
Lufthansa became the second international airline to fly the aircraft, but it was the first European carrier to fly scheduled services with the 747. Over the years, the jumbo jet has become an iconic aircraft at Lufthansa, and it was even a host for several major world premières in succession, including the first film shown on board a jumbo jet.
Originally, Lufthansa intended to operate it as a military aircraft, but the airline would use it primarily for passenger and cargo services.
In April 1972, Lufthansa was the launch customer of the cargo version (also known as the “Smiling 747”) which allows airlines to load even bulkier goods. Thanks to the all-cargo 747, Lufthansa became the number one airfreight transporter.
‘A step towards the 1990s’ is how Lufthansa CEO Heinz Ruhnau described the purchase agreement signed on 23 June 1986 for an initial order of six enhanced Boeing 747 aircraft.
It was the first airline to order the “Dash 400” (Boeing 747-400), and Lufthansa helped develop the new aircraft by providing hundreds of suggestions for improvements and more than 20,000 engineer hours.
The new Dash 400 was developed with upward-pointing winglets, new and more economical engines, new materials such as composite materials and aluminium alloys. All of these innovations helped cut fuel consumption by 24% compared with the -200 series.
However, the carrier continued to work with Boeing to develop a new 747 model, the Boeing 747-8I, and it became the first passenger airline in the world to receive and operate the Boeing 747-8I.
‘It’s an honour for Lufthansa that the anniversary jumbo will fly in the colours of the Lufthansa crane,’ said Nico Buchholz, Head of Group Fleet Management at Deutsche Lufthansa AG. ‘For decades, Lufthansa has been one of the aircraft manufacturer’s closest advisers – a pioneer when it comes to developing new, environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient aircraft,’ added Buchholz at the handover in Seattle.
Lufthansa is expecting to take delivery of four more 747-8Is which will make it the world’s largest operator of the 747-8 among passenger airlines.