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747-300 Returns to the Skies



The least popular variant of the 747 has been unexpectedly brought back into commercial service after being absent for almost 2 years. A few weeks ago, Iranian based carrier “Mahan Air” reactivated one of their old 747-300s after it had been on the ground since 2015. Only 81 747-300s were ever built, and almost all of them are retired. As of 2020, the only 747-300 that remained in operation was a cargo plane owned by Trans Avia Export Cargo Airlines. The return of such an uncommon plane for passenger use is certainly a rare and surprising occurrence. In this article, we will be explaining why Mahan Air brought back and revived the 747-300.


History of the Aircraft

The Mahan Air 747-300 brought back into service was registered as EP-MNE. In its past, the aircraft had been involved in 2 accidents before – one in 2013 and one in 2015. In 2013, the aircraft overran the runway after aborting takeoff but was repaired and put back in service. Then, in 2015, the aircraft suffered an uncontained engine failure while taking off, and the parts from the failed engine punctured the fuselage and caused the nearby engine to also fail. The aircraft safely returned to its origin, but it was labelled as “damaged beyond repair” and sent to storage. The aircraft remained in storage until April 27th of 2021, when it re-entered service.

Uskowi on Iran - اسکویی در باره ایران: Mahan Air Boeing 747 sustains air  emergency, all passengers safe
Credit: Uskowi on Iran

How the Plane Was Able to Fly Again

Despite the aircraft being severely damaged, Mahan Air worked on repairing the aircraft for 6 years until now. In 2019, Mahan Air retired their other 747-300, EP-MND, to scrap its parts and use it on the damaged 747-300. This was the presumed last passenger 747-300 to ever fly. The reason Mahan Air didn’t continue using their functional 747-300 is that it had flown for over 35 years and was becoming too old. Even though the 747 involved in the incidents was about the same age as this aircraft, it had been in storage for many years and had flown far fewer hours than the other 747. Since the damaged 747 had less flight time, Mahan Air removed the engines from their functional 747 and transferred them to the damaged 747. Equipped with parts from the other 747, EP-MNE was repaired and put back into service.

Mahan Air 747 Re-Enters Service After Nine Years in Storage –
Credit: Airline Geeks

Significance of the 747-300

Although the 747-300 was one of the least popular variants of the 747 program, it was still an important part of aviation history. The 747-300 was the first 747 to feature an extended upper deck with emergency exits, and the extension of the iconic hump of the 747 was made standard on the 747-300. The 747-300 wasn’t very successful since it was replaced by the famous 747-400 just a few years after its introduction. The 747-400’s more modernized cockpit design and more advanced technology caused many airlines to switch to the 747-400, and the 747-300 was barely purchased. The small number of customers for the 747-300 is what makes the plane a rare part of aviation. The even rarer part about the Mahan Air 747-300 is that it is a 747-300M, which means that it is a variant of the 747-300 with a cargo portion in the back of the plane. There were only 21 747-300M aircraft produced.

Just boeing 747 corporate house liveries - DA.C
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The return of the passenger 747-300 is definitely a treat for aviation enthusiasts. As several airlines have been retiring their 747s during the pandemic, it is shocking to see a plane as old as the 747-300 be brought back into service, especially one with such an unfortunate past. For any plane spotters or frequent flyers out there, Mahan Air’s 747-300 will be operating a domestic route from Tehran to Mashhad, Bander Abbas or Kish Island on a regular basis. The story of Mahan Air’s 747-300 marks a return of a piece of aviation history, and it shows how something can be repaired or brought back to service even when it’s considered impossible. In the end, it is great to have such a vintage and classic aircraft like the 747-300 back in the skies. 

Credit: FlightRadar24




Mahan Air Returns Boeing 747-300 To Service

Mahan Air Re-activate The World’s Last B747-300 Passenger Aircraft



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The Incredible Boeing 747-400: Which Airlines Still Operate Them Today?



Akbarali Mastan via

With a production run that spanned over three decades, the Boeing 747-400 has been a reliable aircraft with 694 planes built. As the 35th anniversary of the 747-400’s inaugural flight approaches, it’s essential to review which airlines are still operating these planes with the most significant number of flight cycles.

Modernizing the 747-400

Image by Severin Hackenberger via

As the sales of the Boeing 747 began to decrease, Boeing aimed to enhance the aircraft’s fuel efficiency, interior design, and electronics. To ensure that the updated model would meet the requirements of their customers, Boeing collaborated with major airlines such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, KLM, Lufthansa, Northwest, Qantas, and Singapore Airlines. Their suggestions included a two-pilot system and a greater range with improved fuel efficiency.

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Northwest Airlines: The Launch Customer

Northwest Airlines was the launch customer for the upgraded Boeing 747-400, receiving their first aircraft in February 1989. Even before the first 747-400 rolled out of the factory, Boeing had already received 100 orders for the updated model.

The Most Active 747-400s

  • Royal Air Maroc received the Boeing 747-400 with the registration CN-RGA in 1993, which has an impressive 14,077 flight cycles to date.
  • Air China‘s 747-400 registered as B-2447 was delivered new in 1995 and has accumulated 13,710 flight cycles.
  • Lufthansa received D-ABVU in 1998, which currently has 13,419 flight cycles and is deployed on the Frankfurt to Delhi route.
  • Delivered new to Lufthansa in 1998, the Boeing 747-400 registered as D-ABVM has 13,408 flight cycles.
  • Lufthansa’s 23-year-old Boeing 747-400, registered as D-ABVW, was delivered in 1999 and has 13,003 flight cycles. It currently operates on the Frankfurt to Seoul route.
  • The plane registered as D-ABVX, delivered new to Lufthansa in 1999, has 12,546 flight cycles.
  • D-ABVY, which currently operates on the Frankfurt to Bengaluru route, was delivered new to Lufthansa in 2000 and has 12,130 flight cycles.
  • Delivered new to Lufthansa in 2001, D-ABVZ has 12,066 flight cycles.
  • Lufthansa took delivery of D-ABTK in 2001, which currently has 11,401 flight cycles.
  • The Boeing 747-400 registered as D-ABTL was delivered new to Lufthansa in 2002 and has 11,351 flight cycles.
  • Air Atlanta Europe‘s 9H-AZA is currently wet-leased to Saudia and has 8,626 flight cycles.
  • 9H-AZC, which operates under a wet lease agreement with Air Atlanta Europe, was first delivered to Malaysian Airline System (MAS) in 2002 and has 7,035 flight cycles.
Image via: Lufthansa

Active 747s without flight data

N176UA was delivered to United Airlines in 1990 but has not been recorded as having any flight cycles since being sold to Blue Airways and later to Iran’s Mahan Air. Currently, it operates flights between Tehran and Moscow. Another plane originally delivered to Korean Air in 1998, was subsequently sold to MaxAir in Nigeria and now operates as 5N-HMM on the Kano to Jeddah route.

Image by R.Bexten

As the 747-400 continues to fly the skies, these active planes with high flight cycles are a testament to the durability and longevity of this iconic aircraft.

Also, you might be interested in reading: 747-300 Returns to the Skies


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Boeing Dreamlifter: A Masterpiece of Ingenuity and Function




The Boeing Dreamlifter is a marvel of aviation engineering, specifically designed to transport large cargo, such as aircraft parts. This modified Boeing 747 has impressive specs, unique features, and is an essential component of Boeing’s aircraft manufacturing process. In this detailed article, we will explore the Dreamlifter’s capabilities and compare it to its European counterpart, the Airbus Beluga.

Overview and Specs

The Boeing Dreamlifter, also known as the Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter (LCF), is a specially modified version of the iconic 747 jumbo jet. With an enormous cargo hold, the Dreamlifter is capable of carrying exceptionally large and heavy cargo loads, including sections of other aircraft.

Key SpecsBoeing Dreamlifter
Aircraft TypeLarge cargo freighter
First FlightSeptember 9, 2006
Length235 ft 2 in (71.7 m)
Wingspan211 ft 5 in (64.4 m)
Height70 ft 8 in (21.54 m)
Max Takeoff Weight803,000 lb (364,235 kg)
Maximum Payload65,000 cu ft (1,840 m³)
Range4,200 nautical miles
Engines4 x General Electric CF6
Cruising SpeedMach 0.82 (856 km/h)
Number of Aircraft Produced4


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Unique Features of the Boeing Dreamlifter

Boeing Dreamlifter
Photo: FlightAware

The Dreamlifter’s unique features enable it to fulfill its role as a crucial logistics tool for Boeing’s aircraft manufacturing process. Some of these distinctive characteristics are:

  1. Swing-tail Design: The Dreamlifter’s tail section swings open, creating a massive door that allows for the loading and unloading of large cargo items, including entire fuselage sections for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
  2. Increased Cargo Hold Volume: The Dreamlifter’s fuselage is substantially wider and taller than the standard Boeing 747, providing a vast internal space to accommodate oversized cargo.
  3. Advanced Cargo Handling Systems: The Dreamlifter is equipped with an advanced cargo handling system that streamlines the loading and unloading process, reducing turnaround times and increasing efficiency.
  4. Unique Livery: The Dreamlifter features a distinctive livery, showcasing its unique role within Boeing’s aircraft manufacturing operations.

Boeing Dreamlifter in Action

The primary role of the Boeing Dreamlifter is to transport large components, such as fuselage sections, wings, and tail assemblies, for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner production line. With manufacturing facilities in different parts of the world, the Dreamlifter plays a critical role in ensuring that these components are delivered to the final assembly sites in a timely and efficient manner. The Dreamlifter is operated by Atlas Air, which has a fleet of four aircraft dedicated to supporting Boeing’s operations.

Comparing the Dreamlifter and Airbus Beluga

The Airbus Beluga, officially known as the Airbus A300-600ST Super Transporter, serves a similar purpose as the Boeing Dreamlifter, transporting large aircraft components for Airbus’ manufacturing process. Both aircraft are essential for the production of their respective companies’ airliners. Some comparisons between the two include:

  • Cargo hold volume: The Dreamlifter has a slightly larger cargo hold volume (65,000 cubic feet) compared to the Beluga (47,000 cubic feet).
  • Maximum payload: The Dreamlifter can carry a heavier payload (250,000 pounds) than the Beluga (94,000 pounds).
  • Range: With maximum payload, the Dreamlifter has a longer range (4,200 nautical miles) than the Beluga (2,779 nautical miles).
  • Design: While both aircraft feature unique designs to accommodate oversized cargo, the Dreamlifter is based on the Boeing 747 platform with a swing-tail design, while the Beluga is based on the Airbus A300-600 platform and features a bulbous upper fuselage to accommodate its large cargo hold.
  • Fleet size: Airbus operates a fleet of five Beluga aircraft, compared to the four Dreamlifters operated by Atlas Air on behalf of Boeing.
SpecificationBoeing DreamlifterAirbus Beluga
Base PlatformBoeing 747-400Airbus A300-600
Length235 ft 2 in (71.68 m)184 ft 3 in (56.15 m)
Wingspan211 ft 5 in (64.44 m)147 ft 1 in (44.84 m)
Height70 ft 8 in (21.54 m)56 ft 7 in (17.25 m)
Cargo Volume65,000 cu ft45,000 cu ft
Max Payload250,000 lb (113,398 kg)103,616 lb (47,000 kg)
Range4,200 nautical miles (7,778 km)2,779 nautical miles (5,145 km)
Cruise SpeedMach 0.82 (874 km/h)Mach 0.7 (748 km/h)
Engine Type4x General Electric CF6-80C2B5F2x General Electric CF6-80C2A8
Total Built45
key specifications of the Boeing Dreamlifter and Airbus Beluga

The Future of Large Cargo Transport

Boeing Dreamlifter
Photo: Flex Air Charters

As the aviation industry continues to grow and evolve, so does the need for large cargo aircraft like the Boeing Dreamlifter and Airbus Beluga. Boeing is currently working on a new 747-based cargo transporter called the 747-8 Dreamlifter, which will offer even greater payload capacity and range. Airbus, on the other hand, has introduced the BelugaXL, an enlarged version of the Beluga based on the Airbus A330 platform, providing even more cargo capacity for the European manufacturer.

The Boeing Dreamlifter is an impressive and essential tool for Boeing’s aircraft manufacturing process. Its unique features, capabilities, and role in the aviation industry make it an interesting subject for aviation enthusiasts. The comparison with its European counterpart, the Airbus Beluga, highlights the similarities and differences between these two marvels of aviation engineering. As the industry continues to innovate and evolve, we can expect to see even more advanced and efficient large cargo aircraft in the future.

READ ALSO: Airbus Beluga: A Marvel of Engineering and Design

What are your thoughts on these massive cargo carriers and their role in the aviation industry? Which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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Aviation News

Boeing 737 MAX Delivery Delays Impact Airlines’ Summer Plans



Boeing 737 MAX faces delivery delays due to a recent production quality issue. These delays affect approximately 45 to 50 MAXs planned for airlines’ summer schedules, impacting customers like Southwest Airlines and Ryanair. The situation emphasizes the need for strict manufacturing processes and regulatory compliance in the aviation industry.

Production Flaw and Implications

Boeing learned of a production flaw when a supplier, Spirit AeroSystems, reported a subcontractor’s non-standard manufacturing process. This issue involves heavy metal fittings attaching the vertical fin to the fuselage, violating Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations. The flaw affects all MAX models except the MAX 9, raising further concerns about Boeing’s future.

Affected Airlines and Challenges

Southwest Airlines and Ryanair are among the airlines facing challenges due to the 737 MAX delivery delays. Airlines counting on MAX deliveries for summer schedules may face losses and passenger inconveniences, demonstrating the cascading effect production flaws can have on operations.

Addressing the Issue and Long-term Outlook

Boeing is evaluating affected airplanes to determine necessary rework. Although the issue doesn’t pose a safety-of-flight concern, Boeing is actively working to fix the problem and minimize its impact on airlines. CEO Dave Calhoun expects supply chain problems to slow production for the next two years but maintains long-term production targets, aiming for $10 billion in free cash flow by 2025.


The 737 MAX delivery delays highlight the importance of strict manufacturing processes and regulatory compliance in aviation. As Boeing works to resolve the issue and minimize impacts, the company remains committed to its long-term production goals, focusing on ensuring aircraft safety and reliability.

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