Sunday, 8 March 2015

Qantas 7474 "CLEAR TO LAND'' for the final time

QANTAS 747-438 VH-OJA (CN 24354)           File Photo

Qantas will retire its first-ever Boeing 747-400 today, Although Qantas has put several of its jumbo jets out to pasture in recent years, the aircraft making its last flight today is notable for being the Flying Kangaroo's first Boeing 747-438, delivered in 1989 as the flagship of the international fleet.
It was this jumbo – christened 'City of Canberra', with the registration VH-OJA and consignment number 24354 – which opened up the one-stop Kangaroo Route between Australia and London with Singapore as the sole stop-over.

OJA first flew on the 3rd July 1989 as a test flight with the registration of N6064P and was then delivered to Qantas 11th August 1989. Once in the hands of Qantas VH-OJA made a promotional non stop flight from London to Sydney to highlight the jumbo's long-range capabilities, completing the 18,000 klm journey in just under 20 hours.

The flight, with the flight number of QF7441  took place on 16th August 1989.
In order to maximise range, a special high-density fuel was used, the tanks were filled to overflowing and the aircraft was even towed to the runway holding point before starting engines. The engines themselves were specially chosen examples. Although the aircraft was fully fitted out inside, to save weight all non-essentials such as galley equipment etc were removed.
The flight departed runway 28R from London / Heathrow under command of Captain David Massey-Greene, Qantas Boeing 747-400 Project Pilot, with a flight crew comprising Captains Ray Heiniger, Rob Greenop and George Lindeman, with Captain Chet Chester from Boeing. In addition to the five pilots, there were two cabin crew and sixteen passengers aboard for the planned 19 hour 52 minute flight.

On September the 6th 1989 OJA had its first revenue flight from Sydney - Melbourne and return as flight QF28 / 001, its first international flight was on 7th September 1989 from Sydney - Auckland return as QF 43 / 44 respectively.
On 22nd October 1994 OJA was wet leased to ANSETT  AUSTRALIA due to the fact that their 747-300 had crashed landed at Sydney airport four days earlier. (Ansett Australia collapsed originally on the 13th September 2001, it was bought back to life shortly but then collapsed indefinitely on the 4th March 2002)
VH-OJA was finally withdrawn from service in Sydney on the 14th January 2015 after arriving as QF64 from Johannesburg.
Today OJA will be making its very last flight ever (weather permitting) as Qantas is gifting the 747-438 to HARS (the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society) to go on display at Illawarra Regional Airport near Wollongong. On the ground at Illawarra, a 'mini air traffic control' station will be set up using walkie-talkies to communicate with the crew as they make an all-visual approach to the airport, while roads around the airport will be closed to avoid accidents caused by distracted motorists watching the low-flying slow-flying Boeing 747 as it comes in to land.
The Qantas pilots at the controls for VH-OJA’s retirement flight, which has been given the special flight number QF7474, have spent 25 hours in the simulator preparing for today’s landing at the aircraft’s new home. The aircraft should land at Illawarra Airport from the north (hopefully at the special time of 7.47) touching down on Runway 16 which measures a little over 1,800 metres in length.
Qantas had to get special approval from Boeing to reduce the tyre pressure from the normal 208 psi to 120 psi to reduce the impact on the runway, due to the fact that the outer engines will be hanging out over the grass, the pilots will not engage reverse thrust, they will just be relying on the brakes to pull them up. When OJA comes to its final resting place at Illawarra Airport; Qantas will only have six Boeing 747-400s and six Boeing 747-400ERs left in the fleet.
QANTAS B747-438 VH-OJA departed Sydney just after
6.30am (Sydney time) landing on runway 16 at Illawarra
at 7.57am, tens mins later than the planned time of 7.47

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