A year ago on Thursday, the last two British Airways 747s to depart Heathrow climbed through the murky drizzle for their final destinations, bringing to an end a relationship that spanned 5 decades.
BA and predecessor BOAC bought 94 of the iconic airframes brand new from Boeing and operated a fleet totalling 110 from 1970 until their hastened retirement in 2020. When Covid struck, 31 remained in service, a little more than 18 months on, 19 of those are no more. Somewhere close to three and half thousand tonnes of scrap metal has been recouped.
Of the dozen remaining; and although no longer on BA’s books, 5 are ‘viable’ for a return to flight. Whilst their passenger carrying days are probably over, the Jumbo’s enormous cargo capacity could see them live on with different carriers in a freight role. Ironically, the general public’s lockdown love affair with online shopping means air freight is booming.
Of the survivors, the former G-CIVA, VR, VS, VT & VX, now de-registered, are stored in the Spanish sunshine at Teruel. The three ‘special schemes’, painted for BA’s centenary reside at St. Athan (G-BYGC - BOAC), Kemble (G-CIVB, Negus) while the ‘Landor’, G-BNLY rests alongside Chatham flag sister ship, G-CIVW, purportedly set for TV and film use as the aerodrome around them at Dunsfold becomes a housing estate.
Landor has already been opened up for public access on a couple of occasions, Negus has been repositioned to the cafe car park and it is anticipated that there will be opportunities for the public to renew their acquaintance with these icons in 2022. We certainly hope so; they make a great backdrop!
The fate of G-BYGG at St. Athan and G-BYGA and G-CIVN at Kemble is sealed. G-GA is already in the scrapping compound and dismantling has begun on G-GG, the last BA 747 to be delivered. VN might possibly last into the New Year as the dismantler‘s demand for spares (from other aircraft types) takes precedence over that final crushing, but she almost certainly won’t exist this time next year.
Our last eighteen months have been occupied almost exclusively with 747 pieces. Our fuselage section and window pane clocks have been the mainstay of our business and almost certainly will be into 2022. That said, our ‘stock’ is rapidly diminishing. Our shipping containers do still contain the mortal fuselage section remains of G-CIVK, VH, VO, VD, VV, GE & GG, but some of those are now down to single figures.
Our latest batch of window pane clocks are listed on the Members’ Area page in clear and Landor blue finish, including those above and some other stragglers.
We have acquired some other components during the scrapping, including fan blades, main landing gear wheels, yokes, throttle quadrants and Krueger flaps. There will be more unique pieces coming soon. Our joint venture with Icarus Originals will see the next batch of mini models, cufflinks and bracelets (from G-CIVY, then record breaker G-CIVP) available shortly and we’re looking at some other ideas with those guys too. Watch this space! Our laser-etched skin tag offcuts and ‘spare’ ribs will ensure that nothing is wasted.
The best part of this process for us has been hearing your amazing stories and recollections of flying or working on the Queen of the Skies. We’ve genuinely reunited clients with pieces of their history. From flying home for births, weddings and graduations to meeting (and subsequently marrying!) partners onboard a specific airframe alongside a whole host of first and last flights, commands, emergencies, honeymoons and trips of a lifetime, it really has been fascinating.
Please feel free to share in the comments the reason why you have a particular affection for the 747, along with photos of your piece installed. It’s been a real privilege hearing these stories and we’re enormously grateful for your support. If you haven’t ordered your piece yet, now is the time - especially if you need it for Christmas…