Oldest Qantas 747 retires to the desert

VH-OJM departs Australia for the last time. (Bernie Proctor)

The oldest aircraft in the mainline Qantas fleet, Boeing 747-438 VH-OJM, has been retired, operating its last revenue flight on Sunday.

VH-OJM Gosford operated QF73 from Sydney to San Francisco, the 13 hour flight departing just before 1:15pm on Sunday. After a few hours on the ground the quad-jet then made the short hop southeast to Mojave airport where it is likely to enter storage awaiting its fate.

The Rolls-Royce RB211-powered 747-400 had made its first flight on August 30 1991 and was delivered to Qantas on September 17 that year. From that time it would fly over 110,000 flight hours in Qantas service.

Another view of VH-OJM departing Sydney. (Noah Mauger)

VH-OJM’s departure sees the Qantas 747 passenger fleet reduced to 10 aircraft, comprising six GE-powered 747-400ERs (VH-OEE thru OEJ) delivered between 2002 and 2003, a single GE-powered 747-48E (VH-OEB, built for Asiana in 1993 and acquired by Qantas in 1998) and three RR-powered 747-438s (VH-OJS, OJT and OJU) delivered in 1999-2000.

With OJM’s retirement VH-OEB now remains the only 747 still to feature Qantas’s old first class seats in the nose, while the remaining 747-400s and -400ERs having been reconfigured with a three-class layout comprising business, premium economy and economy.

The remaining non ER 747-400s are expected to be retired as Qantas introduces the 787-9 into service, the first of which is due for delivery in October.

A chart from the 2017 Qantas Investor Day on May 5 outlining Qantas International fleet plans. (Qantas)

Comments

  1. Corey says

    Thought they weren’t getting any additional A380s. Things must have changed for them to say they’re going to order 2 additional aircraft. Will be interesting when they’re going to release the order of the aircraft. It would have to be soon since there are only 53 orders at a production rate of 1 per months leaving just over 4 years to ensure the aircraft if ordered and delivered.

  2. Peter Cokley says

    Since the B747 that took passengers to San Francisco as QF73 went to storage and so is not coming back, what plane operates the return Qantas 74 back to Sydney?

  3. JACK CAIRNS says

    HI FOLKS – AS AN OLD RETD. AIRCRAFT E+ I , AFTER 55 YRS I HAVE SEEN MANY AIRLINERS COME AND GO , SOME UNSUCCESSFUL . BUT THE MIGHTY B.747 VARIOUS MODELS HAVE SET A LONG STANDING BENCHMARK AND I DON’T THINK ANY AIRBUS IS EVER GOING TO ACHIEVE THAT RECORD OF POPULARITY WITH AIRCREW AND AIRCRAFT MECHS. WHO WORKED ON IT. THANX J.C.

  4. Stuart says

    This aircraft has an impressive utilisation over the time in the Qantas fleet, close to 12 hours a day every day in the QF fleet. Very good over almost 26 years, as there must have been a few weeks off for heavy maintenance, paint and refurbishment in that period.

  5. australianaviation.com.au says

    @Corey – The two ‘extra’ A380s are aircraft freed up by the B789 taking on the Melbourne-London route. Qantas definitely has no plans to add to its A380 fleet.

  6. Greg says

    We flew on this old girl a few weeks ago from Joburg Flight crew were great so long Gosford thx for bringing us home safety

  7. DJ says

    It is a shame that Qantas being one of the first airlines to adopt the 747 is soon going to have none in its fleet. I wish they would purchase the new model. The Qantas 747 are iconic and they should have a few in the fleet.

  8. Dee says

    I love the 747,s I was lucky enough to see the first one at jet base in mascot I still remember the spiral staircase and pink and purple seats Air travel was glamours then I am sad to see the 747 go ! It’s brought me home safely many times !

  9. Corey says

    @Australian Aviation. Thanks for filling me in. @DJ and everyone else who loves the 74s. I agree I wish Qantas did buy a fleet of maybe 5-6 747-8is to fly from East Coast Australia to the US and even South Africa. Most of those more direct routes need the 4 engines don’t care what anyone says. You could pick them up super cheap as well and pilots and cabin crew can be trained in less than a week!

  10. says

    Boeing have confirmed the 16th and 17th Boeing 787-9 airframes as being delivered as follows:-

    16th Boeing 787-9 arriving 6th July 2018
    17h Boeing 787-9 arriving 22nd August 2018

  11. Dayle Steele says

    Thank goodness the Gosford has been retired. I flew 14 hours Santiago to Sydney with no entertainment no lighting and the flight was delayed 48 hours while a cracked wind scree was replaced

  12. Lou says

    Bye Gosford. Loved working on you. Thanks to all the engineers and pilots who flew us safely. You will be missed, forever in our photos and memories.

  13. Rod Daw says

    Re the ‘additional A380’ – not happening.
    Because QF9/QF10 (MEL-DXB-LHR vv) as a A380 is becoming a B789 (MEL-PER-LHR vv) this is freeing up the two A380’s to go onto Asian routes.

  14. Sydney787Aviation says

    Why did Qantas retire OJM before the 787 comes?
    Isn’t it after it comes?

  15. Roy Fordham says

    I flew pax (open class) with the OJT, delivery flight, to record the event for A H S A, courtesy of Qantas management, and Boeing management, an amazing experience, the only disappointing part for me, was that on all Qantas airplanes fly minus the wing, on the ” Flying Kangaroo”, please put it back on Qantas.
    Hoping this reply will pass the Scrutiny that my recent comments endured.

  16. Alex says

    @Sydney787Aviation

    The next check would have been imminent, so in order to keep flying, they would have had to perform the maintenance check just for the last few months before retirement. Not at all worthwhile.

  17. Craig says

    VH-ZNA is now in position 0 in the final assembly hall at Everett. Should start assembly in the next few days

  18. stuart lawrence says

    the Qantas 747 400 and 200 are my favourite aircraft and so is the old 707 haven flowen one back in 1969.. I also like the airbus 380 but it is not beautiful to look at when taking off ;

  19. Al says

    @Andrew Ferguson, the 16th & 17th 787-9’s you refer to are actually the 5th & 6th. The first 11 787’s for the Qantas Group were all 787-8’s for Jetstar.

  20. says

    Al;
    Thanks for your clarification. I was aware of that fact. Its just that as far as Boeing Production list is concerned airframes 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 & 17 as per the Boeing delivery schedule are listed as all for Qantas (i.e. the Qantas Group). They don’t differentiate it as m 10-11 for Jetstar and then 12 to 17 for Qantas.
    Andrew

  21. Harry says

    Wonderful aircraft. That stat above (from Stuart) that it was in the air almost 50% of its life is incredible, but that’s where these beautiful birds at their best. Trying to imagine all the wonderful journeys and adventures this aircraft helped happen – a tribute to the original Boeing designers, Qantas’ engineers and flight crew. Sad to see them go.

  22. Ron says

    Having flow on 747, A 380 and a 787 in Business class 1st preference is the 747 by a country mile and last choice is the 787.

    Pity there was no refinement program to make the 747 more ecconomical

  23. says

    Just got confirmation that the 12th Boeing 787 airframe for Qantas Group will be rolled out of the Production line on 23rd August. 2017 In just 14 days time!