Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thanks Jumbo: ANA's final Boeing 747 leaves Japan.

On April 16th, All Nippon Airways' (NH/ANA) last 'Jumbo Jet', Boeing 747-481/D JA8961, departed Japanese soil for the final time. The aircraft operated ANA's final B747 revenue service (End of an Era: ANA retires the Boeing 747.) on March 31st and also participated in the company's Initiation Ceremony (ANA's Boeing 747 participates in Initiation Ceremony.) on the following day.
Boeing 747-481/D JA8961 takes off from Haneda one last time on April 16th. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

As flight NH9432, JA8961 started moving from Tokyo/Haneda's (HND/RJTT) Spot 805 at 2102 JST and took off from Runway 34R at 2112, in front of a crowd of approximately 300 enthusiasts who were present at Terminal 2's observation deck to see the airplane off. It arrived at Anchorage (ANC/PANC) at 1034 AKDT, and after immigrations, departed again at 0257 on April 17th, and is currently (at the time of writing) on its way to its final resting place at Tupelo (TUP/KTUP) in Mississippi, U.S.A. Participants of 'Farewell Boeing 747 America Tour' (ANA announes final Boeing 747 farewell tour.) will greet ANA's last 'Queen of the Skies' at Tupelo, and take part in starting the dismantling of the jetliner. As with ANA's earlier examples, JA8961 is also being sold to Universal Asset Management for spare parts and eventual scrapping.
Boeing 747-481 JA8094 'Techno Jumbo'. (Photo: ANA)

JA8961 was manufactured back on April 13th, 1993, and delivered to ANA on May 13th. It has spent its entire life plying the domestic skies of Japan. I had an opportunity to fly on her (CoachFlyer NH126: OKA - HND on All Nippon Airways' Boeing 747.) in November last year. 'D' standing for 'Domestic', ANA's B747-400D seated 23 in Premium Class and 542 in economy (total 565) and was Boeing's answer to Japan's need for a new generation high-capacity short-haul airliner that would replace the B747SR, the 'Short-Range' Classic Jumbo. 
ANA's engineers produced this mosaic art. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

Other than being the ultimate ANA Jumbo, JA8961 also flew ANA's first sunrise flight for 2014 (ANA and JAL's First Sunrise Flights.), a come-back flight to Osaka/Itami (ITM/RJOO) on January 12th (ANA Boeing 747 makes final visit to Itami.), as well as farewell events at Sendai (SDJ/RJSS) and Fukushima (FKS/RJSF) on March 15th (ANA operates 'Boeing 747-400 Graduation Flight'.) and operated farewell tours to and from Tokyo/Narita (NRT/RJAA) and Kumamoto (KMJ/RJFT) on the following day (ANA Boeing 747 flies Sayonara and Kumamoto charters.). It made its final visit to Fukuoka (FUK/RJFF) and Sapporo/New Chitose (CTS/RJCC) on March 30th (ANA Jumbo bids farewell to Fukuoka and Sapporo.).
Boeing 747-481/D JA8961 makes its last visit to Itami. (Photo: Aviation Wire)

ANA's first Jumbo Jet was a B747SR delivered back on December 20th, 1978. Dubbed 'Super Jumbo', it entered service on the Haneda to Fukuoka and New Chitose routes on January 25th, 1979, followed by Okinawa/Naha (OKA/ROAH) on February 9th, and Kagoshima (KOJ/RJFK) and Kumamoto on April 1st. The first long-range B747-200B entered service on the Narita - Los Angeles (LAX/KLAX) route on July 16th, 1986, followed shortly by Washington D.C./Dulles (IAD/KIAD), quickly becoming the international flagship for ANA.
Boeing 747-481/D JA8963 'Marine Jumbo'. (Photo: Boeing)

Their first B747-400 was delivered on August 28th, 1990. Named 'Techno Jumbo' by its employees, the glass-cockpit Jumbos entered service on November 1st initially on domestic routes from Haneda to Fukuoka, Itami, and New Chitose for crew familiarization, before being placed on long-haul routes to Europe and North America, augmenting the B747-200B. ANA's first high-capacity domestic B747-400D entered service on February 1st, 1992 on the Haneda to Nagasaki (NGS/RJFU) and New Chitose routes.
Boeing 747SR-81 JA8139 'Snoopy Go'. (Photo: ANA)

To commemorate their 500 million passenger milestone, ANA painted B747-481/D JA8963 in a 'Marine Jumbo' theme, originally designed by then-sixth-year student Yukie Ogaki, chosen from hundreds of applications. After a carefully-planned painting process at Boeing, the whale entered service on the Haneda - New Chitose route on September 12th, 1993. It became so popular that it prompted ANA to paint B767-381 JA8579 in a similar scheme dubbed 'Marine Jumbo Junior', so that it could fly to airports that cannot handle the B747. These were to be reverted to the normal scheme in January 1995, however, the Great Hanshin Earthquake of January 17th delayed plans, and they remained in service until May 31st that year.
Boeing 747-481/D JA8957 'Pikachu Jumbo' was retired on September 30th, 2013. (Photo: Ryosuke Yano)

ANA later put popular Peanuts character Snoopy on the B747 in the winters of 1996 and 1997. 'Pokemon Jet', which is derived from the popular Nintendo game 'Pocket Monsters' (Pokemon), entered service on July 2nd, 1998. As the game along with the TV animation series proliferated worldwide, ANA also painted an international B747-400 in the scheme and placed it into service on February 24th. Several versions were produced, including 'Pikachu Jumbo' (B747-481/D JA8956) from May 24th, 2004 and 'Ohana Jumbo' (B747-481/D JA8956) from December 5th.
Boeing 747-481/D JA8956 'Ohana Jumbo' was retired on November 30th, 2012. (Photo: Japan Airport Terminal)

However, with a growing fleet of B777s along with the introduction of the B777-300ER from 2004, the B747 gradually started to hand over its role to its younger more fuel-efficient twin-engined cousin. The last B747SR 'Super Jumbo', B747SR-81 JA8157, operated its final revenue flight on March 10th, 2006. Their first of the modern Jumbo, B747-481 JA8094, was sold off in April 2007, and four years later on March 21st, 2011, the last long-haul 'Dash 400', B747-481 JA8958, was withdrawn from service, leaving only a handful of B747-400Ds plying trunk domestic routes. And the B747-400D's last revenue service (End of an Era: ANA retires the Boeing 747.) was completed on March 31st, 2014, putting an end to 35 years of Jumbo operations.
Boeing 747-481 JA8094 in the final livery. It was sold off in April 2007. (Photo: ANA)

Japan saw its first B747 when Japan Airlines (JL/JAL) placed its first example in service in April 1970, opening an era of mass-transportation. JAL eventually acquired a total of 108 brand-new B747s from Seattle, while ANA also bought 45, and during the type's 44-year service in the 'Land of the Rising Sun', it became synonymous with, or even one of the icons of Japan's rise as an economic powerhouse. JAL retired its last B747 on March 1st, 2011, and now ANA as well. Although the commercial passenger 'Jumbo' is gone, Government of Japan's two B747-400s will keep on flying until 2018, while the freighter remains in service with Nippon Cargo Airlines (KZ/NCA), which operates B747-8Fs alongside B747-400Fs.
Farewell B747. (Image: ANA)

Thanks Jumbo. I'm sure she will keep on flying in the memories of all who loved the beautiful jetliner.

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