Since its first commercial flight in 1970, Boeing 747 has changed the nature of long-haul air travel. The family of these jets has been in service for more than half a century. While these aircrafts are becoming increasingly rare, there are still a handful of these jets that remain active today, being more than 40-year-old.
The oldest active passenger configured Boeing 747 that is still flying today is just about 42.89 years old. On November 9, 1977, the Saudi Arabian Royal Flight ordered the aircraft, which was registered as HZ-HM1B. It flew for the first time on August 28, 1978, and was handed to Saudi Arabia on July 11th, 1979, registered as HZ-HM1.
The 'B' suffix was added in September 1984, and it has stayed with this operator ever since. The plane is a Boeing 747SP (‘Special Performance') with a short fuselage with a VIP layout. One explanation for its endurance might be because it has flown just 1413 hours through 894 cycles as of February, totalling about 33.22 hours across 21 cycles each year.
According to data from ch-aviation, the second-oldest passenger-configured 747 still in service is a short-fuselage 747SP. The older one, on the other hand, has been with a single operator for its entire lifetime, whilst this 2nd oldest has had a far more diverse service life.
It was registered as A6-SMR and flew exclusively for the Dubai Air Wing until June 2007. After a time of tenure at Interface Operations LLC, it was acquired by Las Vegas Sands in August of that year. Surprisingly, although being almost a year younger, VP-BLK has accumulated much more hours (25,871) and cycles (6,174) than HZ-HM1.
While those two planes are remarkably ancient, the chances of ordinary passengers travelling on them are slim. Nevertheless, a Boeing 747-300M operated by Iranian airline Mahan Air, which is 35.25 years old, is not far behind them in terms of experience.
This aircraft, registered as EP-MNE, was originally delivered to UTA in April 1986. It spent the most time at Air France, where it served for 16 years from October 1991 to November 2007, until joining Mahan Air.
Image Credit: Pedro Aragão via Commons Wikimedia