QANTAS is set to retire its first delivered 747-400 in early December. The aircraft is registration VH-OJA “City of Canberra”. This particular aircraft has a lot of sentiment attached to it especially amongst employees airliner enthusiasts and for good reason. Apart from being the first 747-400 for QANTAS, this particular aircraft broke the world record for the longest non-stop airliner service. The special delivery flight, aptly numbered QF7441 arrived in Sydney non-stop from London Heathrow on 17 August 1989, having flown 9,633nm in just over 20 hours. The 747-400s, dubbed “Longreach” simultaneously paying homage to the Queensland town and inferring its long range status, helped revolutionise long haul travel for the airline. The airline was able to offer one stop service on the “Kangaroo” route and more capacity non-stop across the Pacific over the 747SPs. The marketing at the time used the slogan “We go further” to emphasise the aircraft’s capabilities.
VH-OJA arriving non-stop from London on 17 August 1989 – picture credit: QANTAS Heritage Collection.
The last scheduled revenue service for the aircraft is scheduled to be as flight QF107 Sydney to Los Angeles on 07 December before it heads to the Victorville “plane graveyard” on 08 December as flight QF6024. This will leave three 747s will analogous configurations (VH-OEB, VH-OJI and VH-OJM) to the nine reconfigured 747s with the A380 style cabin products.
Since 1989 “OJA” has completed close to 106000 hours of flying and over 13800 cycles (take off/landings). With such a distinguished history, it would have been nice to have seen the aircraft preserved along the lines of the 747-200 (VH-EBQ) which is at the Founders Museum in Longreach Queensland. The Victorville desert just doesn’t seem worthy as the final place for such a grand airliner. As is the case in most situations, economics and the bottom line will always take precedence over sentimentality.
UPDATE: 26NOV14 – The aircraft will now be sent to Mojave (MHV) as opposed to Victorville.
The flight crew for the delivery of OJA to Sydney – picture credit: Captain David Massy-Greene/Aussie Airlines Org.
For the SYD and LAX “planespotters” these are the details of the final flights (all times expressed are local) – subject to change:
QF107 07DEC SYD-LAX DEP: 1155 ARR: 0630 (last schedule revenue flight)
QF6024 08DEC LAX-VCV DEP: 0930 ARR: 1015 **flight cancelled – aircraft will now go to Mojave – update 26NOV14**
**NEW** flight now to MHV
QF6024 08DEC LAX-MHV DEP: 0930 ARR: 1015
Mail cover from the flight signed by Captain David Massy-Green – picture credit Phil Vabre Collection