October 7, 2022
The Sad All-White 747 That Barely Flew

The Sad All-White 747 That Barely Flew

DALLAS – With just 42 hours of flying, this massive Boeing 747-8 has left its old airport of storage – Basel (BSL), Switzerland, and that too after 10 years.

But this Jumbo is flying back to the United States, and more so, to an airport that’s known to be a graveyard. Is it the end of the line?

N458BJ was the registration given to her when she rolled out of Everett on her maiden flight back in 2012. She was all set to join the government of Saudi Arabia as part of the VIP aircraft fleet, to shuttle the prince around the globe. In order to configure the aircraft with plush interiors, a contract with a Swiss-based company from Basel was signed to get the job done.

After spending a while after its first flight, she briefly spent time at San Bernardino (SBD) and Lackland AFB in the United States before making its way to Basel, Switzerland.

Then came the bad news: the cabin modification contract was canceled and the jumbo had nothing to do but just sit tight and hope for some sort of progress. She sat there for years without any interest, although there were several listings and advertisements.

On April 6, the Boeing 747-8 made a two-hour check flight. This raised a lot of curiosity about whether she’d been bought. And just a week later, on Good Friday, April 15, she took off for a nearly eleven-hour flight back to the United States and landed at Pinal Airpark Marana (MZJ) in Arizona.

MZJ serves as a long-term storage facility as well as a graveyard where airplanes are broken down/scrapped.and reusable parts sold to buyers.

Fragile Future

No confirmation is out on what awaits this majestic white Jumbo that flew less than what an average private pilot logs to get his initial license. Two possibilities in general arise.

First, a complete breakdown and all reusable equipment such as avionics, seats, and the engine too would be sold to interested buyers or, given the low humidity in Arizona, she sits long term once again hoping to find a buyer, but this time with a price tag of approximately US$50m.

The 747-8 are a strong part of today’s cargo carriers and will remain so in the coming decade at least. But sadly there isn’t a passenger to freight conversion program for the 747-8 ruling out this option for N845BJ unless, of course, Boeing considers it. It’s also to be noted that Boeing still owns the jet.

Featured image: Boeing

Commercial pilot | Flight Instructor | Aviation Journalist & writer.

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