On Friday, April 15, the Boeing 747-8 BBJ with registration N458BJ took off from Basel, Switzerland, towards Marana airport, in the Arizona desert, in the United States, after being in storage for more than 10 years.
The aircraft currently owned by Bank of Utah was originally ordered by the government of Saudi Arabia to transport Saudi Crown Prince Abdul Aziz, who died in 2011.
The plane flew in 2012, the same year it was sent to be configured for VIP use in Basel. The process, however, was never finalized and the aircraft was put up for sale.
At the time it was announced for sale, the price was considered a bargain: $95 million, nearly one-fifth the value of a new 747-8. The lack of interested parties turned the executive Jumbo into a rare aircraft, with only 29 hours of flight time.
Taken to the US, the aircraft still has an uncertain future, although rumors point out that the four-engine’s destiny is to be dismantled and its parts sold on the market. If this happens, it will be the first time that a 747-8, the most advanced variant of the famous jetliner, has been scrapped.
The 747-8 was introduced in 2011 with greater range, transport capacity and lower fuel consumption. Since then, Boeing has delivered a total of 153 examples of the aircraft, of which 36 are passenger cabin models, 107 are cargo models and 10 747-8 BBJ executives.
The 747’s production list still contains at least six more aircraft, including four freighters for Atlas Air, which are expected to be delivered this year, and two more VC-25B (Air Force One), which will serve the US president.