As British Airways retires its ‘Queen of the Skies’ fleet, one jumbo jet will be given a starring role as a film set. Rose Dykins reports

Rather than being sent to the scrapheap (according to the World Economic Forum, the market for recycled plane parts will be worth US$6 billion by 2022), one of British Airways’ last remaining B747 aircraft will be given a glamorous new lease of life – as a set for commercial filming.

In July, British Airways announced it was retiring its ageing fleet of 31 B747-400 aircraft due to the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the aviation sector (they are huge planes that are expensive to fly and hard to fill with paying ticketholder).

The fleet is being replaced by quieter, more fuel-efficient aircraft as part of the airline’s commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

However, one of BA’s final B747 planes to retire – registered as G-CIVW – has been relocated to Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey – 13 miles from Gatwick airport. Here, it will be opened up as an exhibition for visitors to experience it up close, and it will also also be preserved as a commercial film set.

British Airways B747 New Livery © Chris Bellew /Fennell Photography 2019The plane will keep its Chatham Dockyard livery, and both the plane’s interiors and exteriors will be used for film and TV mock-up shots. Previously, Dunsfold Aerodrome has staged the filming of Top Gear and scenes from Mission Impossible 7. BA says the B747 plane will also serve as a training facility.

In December, BA’s final two B747 planes will depart from the airline’s engineering base in Cardiff. The engineers who have been working on the B747 fleet for years will be there to wave it off. The aircraft – registered as G-BNLY and G-BYGC – are painted in BA’s heritage liveries, to make the airline’s centenary last year.

G-BNLY will join G-CIVW as a permanent exhibit at Dunsfold Aerodrome. Meanwhile, G-BYGC – painted in the BOAC “Gold Speedbird” livery (pictured below) used between 1963 and 1974 – will be transferred to the Bro Tathan business park in Wales’s Vale of Glamorgan.

There, it will be maintained as a heritage piece by aviation specialists eCube Solutions to showcase the contribution British Airways’ 747 fleet made to UK aviation.British Airways - BOAC 747“While we will miss seeing them grace our skies, we are delighted to have found permanent homes for our remaining centenary 747 aircraft,” says Sean Doyle, CEO of British Airways.

“We think they have great historical importance, not only to British Airways but to the entire aviation industry, and we are pleased they will be preserved for future generations in locations in the UK.

“As the final 747s to leave our fleet, their departure will be an emotional moment for former and current British Airways staff, including our engineering team in Cardiff who have lovingly looked after our jumbo jets for decades.”

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