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mcbellette

Qantas retires first (and last) Boeing 747-438ER Longreach

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Qantas has retired the first Boeing 747-438ER to enter its fleet back in 1989. This very aircraft also held the record for the longest non-stop flight by a commercial airliner, when it flew non-stop from Heathrow to Sydney in just over 20 hours back in 1989. To do so, they even towed the plane to the runway for the engine start to save every last drop of fuel! Rather than send the aircraft to the scrapyard, Qantas decided that it had too much history for that and has donated it to HARS - the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society - to be displayed at Illawarra Regional Airport.

 

For this final flight - which was only about 15 minutes in duration - Qantas selected some of its most senior flight crew because while the flight itself would be a cakewalk, the landing would be anything but. The runway at Illawarra Regional Airport isn't designed for commercial airliners and definitely NOT a massive Boeing 747-438ER!!! The runway is only 1,819m (5,968ft) long. Apparently the manual recommends a minimum landing distance of 1,800m.

 

Before doing this final flight, the pilots had to do around 25 hours of flying this approach and landing to get it right, because this airport has no landing aids whatsoever - it's a GA airfield. Qantas even contacted Boeing about tyre pressures, so as to not damage the runway with the nearly 200 tonne aircraft. The glideslope also looks as though it's much shallower than the usual 3.5 degrees, but that could just be an illusion of perspective in the video - not sure.

 

Anyway, enjoy the video. I know this isn't a PMDG-related topic, but since PMDG has made by far the best 747-400 simulation of this beautiful aircraft for FS, I thought there'd be plenty who'd enjoy reading this little tidbit and few who would object to me posting it here.

 

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Glad you enjoyed it. You can actually buy that airport from ORBX under the name of Wollongong.

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It is always a very sad moment to see a mighty airliner go to sleep.

 

But I don't think VH-OJA was an -ER version.

Those were introduced a dozen years later.

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Nice video!

 

Adding my piece to the cake here ... Qantas introduced the 400ER in 2002 into their fleet. They received six aircraft and they are the only airline (pax) to fly them.

 

I can't wait to do Qantas 400ER flights in the PMDG 747v2 !!  :lol:  :lol:

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I'm tempted to buy the ORBX version of this airport to see if I can do it, actually!

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Just to add to the comments.  Even though my tenure at Qantas was brief (4 years) I worked on most of their 744 aircraft.  The aircraft is just a 744 and not the ER version.  Qantas had if I remember right only 6 ERs (GE powered VH-OEE through to OEJ), a handful of GE engined 744s (non-ER - 3 I think VH-OEB through to OED) and the rest were RR powered 744s such as the one shown in the video (VH-OJA through to OJU).  In the later years QF used the 744 RRs between LHR and SYD/MEL with the occasional visit by an ER version and the rare GE non-ER version.  I cant remember how many of the RRs were configured in 3 class instead of 4 class but at Heathrow we rarely saw OJA-OJE I think it was so it was probably those.

 

Aaron

-ooo-

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Your thread reminded me of the South African Airways' Boeing 747-SP's final flight into an airfield just like the one you described. Here it is:

 

 

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Illawarra Regional .... did my CPL there at South Coast Aero Club back in 1990 when it was known as "Wollongong" or simply "Albion Park" - seems it's moved up in the world!

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Great vid Matthew, thanks for sharing.

 

As others have pointed out OJA is a standard 747-400 and not an ER version. All of QF's ER aircraft have registrations in the range of OEE - OEJ.

 

I have seen one video recreation in FSX which was really close to the mark but it would be great to see a few more of them.

 

If anyone is after the details of the flight to re-create it let me know.

 

B)

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OJA is indeed a -438 (Non-ER). Now they have four RR-powered 438s as well as seven -438ERs. Great video by the way!! 

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OJA is indeed a -438 (Non-ER). Now they have four RR-powered 438s as well as seven -438ERs. Great video by the way!!

 

Not quite correct.

 

We have 5x RR powered 747-400's (OJI, OJM, OJS, OJT, OJU) and 1x GE powered 400 (OEB) and 6x 400ER's (OEE-OEJ)

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After retirements are done throughout 2015 I heard there should still remain 9 reconfigured 747s in the Qantas fleet but not sure how long.

 

Anyone know if Qantas plans to keep the 9 reconfigured 747s indefinitely or are there medium term plans to retire those 9 as well?

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I could not find a livery of this model online, so I made this one to go along with the original Qantas 707 livery I made.  Sometime soon I will go and visit the museum when this 747 is open for inspection, as I flew on her in real life several times.

 

CityOfCanberra.jpg?dl=0

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We have 5x RR powered 747-400's (OJI, OJM, OJS, OJT, OJU) and 1x GE powered 400 (OEB) and 6x 400ER's (OEE-OEJ)

 

Oops! My bad. 

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