The final Qantas Boeing 747 that flew out of the Victorville boneyard last month will likely never take to the skies again.
New owners Kalitta Air has told Australian Aviation it purchased the 19-year-old jet, formerly registered as VH-OEJ, for spare parts to aid the maintenance of its existing 747 fleet.
It comes after the aircraft sensationally left the Mojave storage facility in California, thought to be its final resting place, to fly 3,500 kilometres to Oscoda Airport on the other side of the United States. It led to speculation the iconic Queen of the Skies could have a new lease of life flying for the air cargo airline.
Formerly registered to the Flying Kangaroo as VH-OEJ, the jet is now registered in the US to Kalitta Air as N329ZA.
The Michigan-based cargo carrier currently has a fleet of 24 active Boeing 747s, including the last 747-400 ever built by Boeing, registration N782CK, plus the ex-Qantas airframe, which is formally ‘parked’. According to the FAA registry, the jet’s US registration is valid through 31 May 2025.
VH-OEJ was the last of six Boeing 747-438ERs that Qantas ordered in 2001 and the final 747 to be delivered to the airline.
OEJ, named Wunala Dreaming, was also the final Boeing 747 to be farewelled from the airline after the COVID-19 pandemic sped up the airline’s planned retirement of its iconic 747 fleet.
After an emotional take-off to the tune of I Still Call Australia Home, first-leg captain Sharelle Quinn flew the aircraft over Sydney’s CBD, Harbour and beaches before heading to the HARS Museum, where she dipped its wings in a final salute to the first 747-400 housed at the attraction, VH-OJA.
As she made her way across the Pacific, Captain Quinn took the opportunity to honour the final Qantas 747 flight by drawing a 275-kilometre x 250-kilometre Qantas Kangaroo in the sky. Hundreds of thousands of Twitter and Instagram users shared Qantas’ official post of the stunt.
— Qantas (@Qantas) July 22, 2020
When it finished, VH-OEJ climbed to cruising altitude and headed for Los Angeles, where it touched down at 1:23 pm after 15 hours in the air.