Ever wonder what a VIP-configured Boeing 747-8 looks like?

Boeing 747 Have you ever wondered how you might configure your own Boeing 747?

According to a filing with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Lufthansa Technik has received a commission to outfit a 747-8 aircraft for “Presidential Flight Abu Dhabi.” The plans required certain exemptions from typical U.S. and European safety rules, Lufthansa says. The filing suggests these types of waivers are routinely granted, but it’s fun to take a look  just to see what you can do with such a large airplane.

The map is the best part, but if you’re bored or just want more information, here’s the full filing:

Lufthansa Technik AG – Exemption Rulemaking

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ANA will retire its 747s next month

Lufthansa is the only major passenger airline now flying the 747-8, the newest model of the iconic plane. Other airlines have decided the aircraft is not financially viable. Photo: Lufthansa

Lufthansa is the only major passenger airline now flying the 747-8, the newest model of the iconic plane. Other airlines have decided the aircraft is not financially viable. Could this the end of the line for the 747? Photo: Lufthansa

Another major airline is retiring its Boeing 747s — the airliner nicknamed the “Queen of the Skies.”

This time, according to Christine Negroni writing in the New York Times, the airline is Japan’s All Nippon Airways. ANA and JAL — Japan’s top two carriers — each started operating 747s in the 1970s, but JAL retired its final 747s in 2011. People, especially aviation nerds, love the airplane, but it’s no longer practical for a lot of airlines.

“Emotions, however, are no match for economics when it comes to a four-engine airplane and jet fuel that costs $123 a barrel,” Negroni wrote in the Times. “Along with the two Japanese carriers, Cathay Pacific and Singapore have also eliminated the 747 from their fleets, and Air India, Air New Zealand and Taiwan’s EVA Air are planning to do the same.”

ANA expects to have its final 747 flight on March 31, according to the Times.

There’s some question about whether this is only a 747 issue, or whether the market has dried up for super large jetliners. People get excited about the double-decker Airbus A380, but the future, some say, is in smaller 777s, 787s and Airbus A350s. In addition to generally having fewer seats than the 747, those planes have only two engines, which makes them considerably cheaper to operate. (Airbus is supposed to deliver its first A350 later this year, to Qatar Airways.)

“Many airline executives, however, say market changes are to blame for the slow sales,” Negroni wrote. “They say the mammoth airliner is history — and  (ANA’s chief executive officer, Osamu) Shinobe, is one of them. When he first saw the 747 in 1979, he said, the Japanese air travel market was booming and the jumbo’s 500-plus seats, in domestic configuration, far outmatched the next biggest airplane, the 320-seat Lockheed L-1011. Now, he says, the airline does not need that capacity: ‘Domestic will not grow so much anymore.’”

There is a new model of the 747 called the 747-8, which Lufthansa started flying in 2012. It is more efficient than its predecessors, but it is so far not selling well. 

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Fiji Airways retires its final 747; we’ve got facts and figures on this plane’s life

Fiji Airways -- formerly called Air Pacific -- retired its final 747 this month after a flight from Los Angeles. Photo via wikimedia commons.

Fiji Airways — formerly called Air Pacific — retired its final 747 this month after a flight from Los Angeles. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Last week, Fiji Airways retired its final Boeing 747-400 after a flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Nadi International Airport in Nadi, Fiji.

The airplane actually carried a Air Pacific livery, as that was the name of the airline until it re-branded recently. The new Fiji Airways operates a fleet of A330s and 737s. The much more efficient A330s have taken over the Los Angeles flying.

Len Sloper, regional general manager of airports for Fiji Airways, put together a nice dossier on this final 747. Here are some of the facts he shared:

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Boeing 747 Video: Check out the view from the landing gear

Ever wonder about the view from a 747′s landing gear?

OK. You probably haven’t. But that doesn’t make the video above any less interesting. It’s especially cool at about the one-minute mark when the plane gets airborne. It’s a view you don’t usually see.

Amazing as it might sounds, people occasionally try to hitch a ride in an aircraft wheel well. And it generally does not end well.

A few days ago, there was the guy who died on a British Airways A320. He was discovered at London Heathrow after a flight from Turkey.

Then there was this guy, who authorities believe hid on another British Airways plane from North Africa in 2012. But just about the time of landing at Heathrow, he fell from the sky and onto a residential street.

After that incident, the BBC did a nice story on whether people can actually survive these flights. The answer is yes, though not very often. U.S. Federal Aviation Administration officials told the BBC that about a quarter of people caught as stowaways have actually survived. That, of course, means 75 percent die.

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