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.
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.
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.
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.
Cover Image: Airliners.net