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Aviation milestone as Boeing delivers 747 number 1,500

By Frances Cha, CNN
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
The Boeing 747 is one of the iconic commercial jets of the 20th century. It arrived in the late 1960s largely because Pan Am thought bigger planes would be the answer to passenger congestion at airports. The 747 was 2.5 times the size of Boeing's earlier 707 model and was the world's first wide-body aircraft. Its distinctive front bulge came from placing the cockpit on an upper deck, allowing a freight-loading door in the nose. Pilots were trained to taxi this beast by sitting three stories high on a moving truck. Lufthansa received deliver of the 1,500th 747 on June 28. The Boeing 747 is one of the iconic commercial jets of the 20th century. It arrived in the late 1960s largely because Pan Am thought bigger planes would be the answer to passenger congestion at airports. The 747 was 2.5 times the size of Boeing's earlier 707 model and was the world's first wide-body aircraft. Its distinctive front bulge came from placing the cockpit on an upper deck, allowing a freight-loading door in the nose. Pilots were trained to taxi this beast by sitting three stories high on a moving truck. Lufthansa received deliver of the 1,500th 747 on June 28.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • German airline Lufthansa takes delivery of 1,500th Boeing 747 -- a major landmark for large passenger jets
  • 747 is credited with ushering in an era of mass tourism by making air travel more affordable
  • The aircraft's milestone comes at a time when aviation industry is moving away from large aircraft

(CNN) -- It's the biggest milestone yet for the aircraft affectionately known as the "Queen of the Skies."

The 1,500th Boeing 747 has been delivered to German carrier Lufthansa -- a figure unsurpassed by any other wide-bodied plane.

To celebrate, the plane was greeted with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and given a special logo in honor of its status.

History of an icon

The revolutionary jet is beloved not only for its mammoth size and recognizable shape, but for the way it's influenced the aviation industry during a five-decade career.

After debuting in 1969 at the Paris Air Show, it opened up air travel to millions of passengers previously unable to afford taking to the skies.

Able to fly longer and carry twice as many passengers as its ancestor, the 707, the plane's arrival led to a drop in ticket prices and ushered in a new era of mass tourism.

Tom Ballantyne, aviation journalist and chief correspondent at Orient Aviation magazine, said the 747 also heralded a new standard for in-flight comfort.

"And let's not forget the freighter version also changed the air cargo scene, allowing air transport to move large items and freight in bulk it had not been able to handle previously," he told CNN.

MORE: Best of Boeing: 10 revolutionary aircraft

The 747's milestone comes as the aviation market is shifting away from jumbo jets.

Many airlines now prefer to run medium-sized twin-engine planes -- such as the Boeing 777 or Airbus A330 -- on more frequent timetables than operate four-engine double-decker jets.

The smaller planes seat fewer passengers but cover the same distances and need less fuel.

Japanese carrier ANA made headlines earlier this year when it retired its last two 747s for economic reasons, despite the airline's professed emotional ties to the aircraft.

The jumbo jet breaks another record.
The jumbo jet breaks another record.

Biggest fan

Lufthansa remains one of the few champions of the new Intercontinental, as its newest incarnation, the 747-8, is known.

Only four other airlines had taken orders of the 747-8 as of February 2014, according to the New York Times.

"Lufthansa is honored that the 1,500th 747 will fly with the Lufthansa livery," the airline's executive vice president, Nico Buchholz, said in a statement.

The 1,500th plane is the Frankfurt-based airline's 14th 747-8 Intercontinental. Lufthansa has 19 more still on order.

MORE: Flying the flag: Great World Cup airplane paint jobs

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