See the governments of countries that fly the Boeing 747; Air Force One
- Egypt has purchased an 11-year-old Boeing 747-8 from the aircraft manufacturer and is modifying it for executive use.
- The jumbo jet is practically new, having made only a handful of flights since it was built in 2011.
- Several other countries operate 747 variants as VIP transport aircraft, such as Turkey, Oman and the United States.
The beloved Boeing 747 may have lost airline interest, but it continues to be a popular business jet.
The mammoth 747 made its first commercial flight with Pan Am in 1970, launching the era of wide-body long-haul transit. Powered by four engines, the aircraft could cross the Atlantic and, for the first time, make travel affordable for people other than the rich and famous.
Now, after more than half a century of production, Boeing’s groundbreaking 747 program will come to an end this year as the company builds its latest jumbo jet. The last plane – a 747-8 freighter – will go to cargo carrier Atlas Air.
The plane’s demise came as airlines began to favor more fuel-efficient twin-engine wide-body aircraft that could cross the Atlantic but at lower operating costs, such as the Boeing 787 or the Airbus A350.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been the nail in the coffin for many 747s as carriers like British Airways, KLM, Qantas and Virgin Atlantic have accelerated their retirement.
As airlines around the world park their 747s, the jumbo jet still remains popular with country governments. The last nation to take possession of the queen of heaven is Egypt, who bought the jet, registered SU-EGYin 2021, per single flight.
The 747-8 will replace the 28-year-old Airbus A340 government jet.
To fly as a business jet, SU-EGY needs some modifications. According to Simple Flying, the jet was sent to Hamburg for interior outfitting by maintenance, repair and overhaul services company Lufthansa Technik.
After what appears to be around nine months of cabin work, the 747 then flew from Hamburg to Shannon, Ireland, by FlightAware datato get a new paint job.
The company carrying out the work is International Aerospace Coatings (IAC), which completed projects like United Airlines’ Star Wars-themed livery on a 737-800 and Allegiant Air’s Las Vegas Golden Knights paint job on an A319.
Like other VIP transport 747s, the aircraft is expected to have a luxury interior similar to Air Force One in the United States or the former Qatari government 747-8i.
Soon, Egypt will join the myriad of countries using the Queen of the Skies as a government transport aircraft, proving that the obsolete 747 is still a popular aircraft in modern times.
Here are all the nations using the iconic jumbo jet for VIP use.
The United States currently operates two Boeing 747-200s for presidential use, but is spending about $5.3 billion to upgrade the fleet to more efficient 747-8s. The original models were first used by President George HW Bush in the early 1990s.
China does not have a dedicated presidential plane, but instead borrows 747-400 jetliners from Air China for ad hoc VIP transport missions. According to Asia Timesthe country is reportedly converting an Air China 747-8 to be used exclusively for presidential flights due to repeated mechanical and safety issues on the -400s.
The Korean government equipped a former Korean Air 747-8i for presidential use, by Aerotime. The plane, dubbed “Code One”, replaced the country’s converted 747-400 VIP transport jet which was leased from Korean Air.
Kuwait operates a Boeing 747-8 VIP, in service since November 2012, according to Planespotters.
The Moroccan government operates an 11-year-old 747-8, which was donated to the country by the Abu Dhabi government, by The Dots Guy.
The Royal Flight of Oman is the country’s non-military VIP transport fleet. According to Planespottersthe country has two jets in service, including a 747-400 and a 747-8, and a parked 747SP.
The Turkish VIP 747-8i was donated by the Royal Family of Qatar in 2018, according to the BBC. The ultra-luxury $500 million jet can carry 76 passengers and has seven bedrooms and two meeting rooms.
The Bahrain government operates a 747-400 for VIP transportation, by Planespotters.
The presidential 747-400 aircraft stationed from Brunei was unique as it was piloted by the Sultan himself, Hassanal Bolkiah, who stole it to meet President Barack Obama in 2013.
According to The Points Guy, the ultra-rich sultan used some of his own money to buy the jet from Lufthansa and flew it around the world. The interior would be gold-plated and nicknamed “the flying palace”, according to the South China Morning Post.
The aircraft has since been parked and replaced with a 747-8 model, by TPG.