The golden era of flying is over.

With the announcement in July 2020 that BA is retiring its fleet of Boeing 747’s, with immediate effect, rather than the planned withdrawal by 2024, it seems the end of an era is over.

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Boeing 747. Source: The Guardian. Andrew Matthews/PA

These behemoths are so familiar that it is hard to imagine how innovative they were when first released in the 1970’s. To reflect that they are now 50-year old technology is equally surprising. These icons of the skies heralded the boom time of flying where “normal people” could now experience intercontinental flight, and led to flights to far flung destinations like the USA and Australia now being possible.

Soon swarms of aircraft were criss-crossing the skies, and low cost flights became the norm, with people spending more on taxis to the airport than for the actual flight. From enchanted spaces of possibilities airports became the new normal, pragmatic and utilitarian. Finally, becoming like bus stations mere hubs of fast moving traffic. 

The iconic names of travel, Pan-Am, BOAC, faded away and now the original “jumbo jet” is being removed from the skies, to be replaced with more efficient twin jets rather than the four engine jets of childhood travel. There probably never was a “golden era” of travel. But if there had been, then surely it now has gone. 

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Boeing 747 over London. Source: The Guardian. Steve Parsons/PA

 

As big as a Bus….or Bigger!

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The GE9X Engine (the larger one!)

This new video of a massive aircraft engine, the new GE9X, had me enthralled. As well as being neatly produced, it reveals that a wealth of parts are being produced by 3D printing.

I’m just fascinated by large structural things, be they buildings, bridges or boats. They don’t even have to start with a “B” either!

Most aircraft have 4 engines, or a quartet  but maybe this engine is so powerful it only needs two engines per aircraft. Or maybe that’s a new style, three normal sized engines and one massive one. An engineering marvel.