Sporting its familiar brown, gold, and white livery, UPS Airlines’ new 747-8F (registration N633UP) flew Friday from Paine Field (KPAE) near Boeing’s plant in Everett, Washington, to Louisville (KDSF). There, the new “brown tail” joins the UPS fleet at the package delivery company’s main hub, UPS Worldport.
Today, we took delivery of our final @BoeingAirplanes 747-8. Tail N633UP is our 28th @UPS 747-8. This #queenoftheskies will provide a critical link to #deliverwhatmatters for our customers around the world. ✈️🤎✈️ #aviation #avgeeks
— UPS Airlines (@UPSAirlines) April 9, 2022
The addition of N633UP increases UPS’s total number of 747s to 41, including 13 747-400Fs and 28 of the -8F variant.
That leaves just four open orders for Boeing’s last 747s to come off the production line. Those final -8Fs are expected to be delivered to Atlas Air Worldwide later this year, closing the OEM’s order books on an iconic model, largely due to the development of more fuel-efficient, twin-engine freighters and passenger airliners.
“The 747-8 provides UPS with an outstanding combination of payload, range and efficiency,” UPS media relations director Jim Mayer told FLYING in an email Monday. “Its capabilities have enabled us to operate a nonstop flight from UPS Worldport, our main air hub in Louisville, Kentucky, nonstop to Dubai, UAE, shaving an entire day from time-in-transit between North America and the Middle East.”
Queen of the Skies
One of the largest airplanes in the world, the 747-8 boasts a maximum payload of about 307,000 pounds and offers 19 percent more payload than its predecessor, the 747-400—which was the biggest seller of the 747 variants. The 747-8F is currently the only commercial freighter in production with nose-loading capability, according to Boeing.
In the 53 years since the first iteration of the 747 took flight, the beloved four-engined widebody became known as “the Queen of the Skies.” It changed aviation for the world by opening up international travel to the middle class on a wider scale. It was so popular with airlines that more than 1,500 were built across multiple variants.
Production of the passenger variant of the 747-8 ended in 2017 after Korean Air became the final commercial passenger airline customer to receive delivery of four -8s. An unidentified customer took delivery of the final passenger -8 in November of last year.
The military variant of the 747-8—known as VC-25Bs—will be the next generation of presidential executive widebodies for use as Air Force One. Two existing -8s that are being transformed into VC25Bs reportedly are behind schedule, according to Reuters and the Wall Street Journal. Negotiations are still ongoing between Boeing and the Pentagon about when these final airplanes will be delivered.
Not only are we witnessing the end of the 747 itself, but the final four freighter deliveries also represent the end of the entire jumbo production era, coming a year after the final Airbus superjumbo A380 airliner rolled off the line in Toulouse, France, in February 2021.