Tim Harford Columnist

The Boeing 747 has taken another step towards retirement. British Airways, the operator of the largest fleet of passenger 747s, announced that the distinctive aircraft would not be returning to service after the pandemic. For all the rightful concern about the environmental cost of long-haul travel, the plane will be missed by passengers and pilots alike.

Mark Vanhoenacker, pilot and writer, describes the plane as “370 tonnes of aviation legend”. The first time I rode on the top deck of a 747 my own excitement was more childlike — but still surely justified. Modified 747s carried the Space Shuttle around on their backs and have served as the official plane for US presidents since the time of George HW Bush. It is an iconic design.

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