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The Oldest Active 747 Enters Retirement

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Last week, GE Aviation announced it was officially storing its 747-100 Flying Test Bed, making the 747’s 25 January flight almost certainly its last. N747GE was the oldest 747 in active service.

N747GE, the GE Aviation flying test bed

Delivered factory-fresh to Pan Am in 1970, the airline operated 747 line number 25 as N744PA ‘Clipper Ocean Spray’ for 21 years before selling it to GE in 1992.

N744PA, Clipper Ocean Spray

GE then removed most of the interior, and strengthened the left wing and tail to make it fit for engine testing duty.

N747GE with a GE90 under the left wing

GE had used the flying test bed registered N747GE since 1992 to develop engines like the GE90 (777), GEnx (747-8 & 787), Engine Alliance GP7200 (A380), CFM-56 (various), and the LEAP (737 MAX, A320neo, C919). The airframe completed more than 3,600 flight hours and 775 cycles with GE.

GE’s 747GF, a 747-400, will now be the exclusive flying test bed. This new airframe was acquired from Japan Airlines in 2010. Note that N747GF’s winglets have been removed.

N747GF, GE’s 747-400 flying test bed

You can see more of N747GE’s final flight and get a tour inside the aircraft in the video below.

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