Japan to bid farewell to 747 'jumbo'

Japan to bid farewell to 747 'jumbo'

TOKYO - Japanese plane buffs will say a fond farewell to the "jumbo jet" this month as the Boeing 747 makes its final scheduled flight in the country.

The two-deck carrier, loved for its broad-shouldered look, will ferry holiday-makers and aviation enthusiasts on an All Nippon Airways flight from Naha, in Okinawa, to Tokyo's Haneda airport on March 31.

The jumbo jet - 70 metres (229 feet) long and 60 metres wide - was first introduced to the country by Japan Airlines (JAL) in 1970 and became a workhorse on both domestic and international routes.

At one time Japanese airlines owned more than 120 of them, each capable of carrying over 500 passengers, the Mainichi Shimbun daily reported.

But as well as its place in Japan's affections, the 747 is also remembered for its involvement in the nation's worst ever aviation accident and the deadliest single-aircraft disaster in history.

In 1985, JAL Flight 123, flying from Tokyo to Osaka with 524 people aboard, crashed 120 kilometres (75 miles) northwest of Tokyo, killing all but four people on board.

The jumbo jet has been replaced by more fuel-efficient models, most notably the lightweight 787 Dreamliner, the first mid-sized plane able to fly long-haul.

The 747 is still in use in other countries around the world.

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