Qantas first B747-438 on the production line at Boeing. Image: Boeing.

After a final celebration in Qantas’ Hangar 96 in a few hours Qantas’ first B747-438 VH-OJA ‘City of Canberra’ will touch down in Los Angeles ending 25 years, three months and 20 days of commercial service.

Holding a distance record, only surpassed by Boeing’s 777-200LR record in 2005, and speed record that it still holds, -OJA was delivered to Sydney on 17 August 1989. QF7441 flew direct from London Heathrow in 20 hours, ten minutes – slightly over the planned flight time of 19 hrs 53 mins, and endurance estimate of 20 hrs 57 – at an average 848.54kmh with the aircraft routing to Frankfurt, then Istanbul, Ankara, Tehran, Oman, Colombo, Cocos Island, Carnarvon, Meekatharra, Woomera, Cowra and finally Sydney.

Qantas named its 747-438 fleet ‘Longreach’ to pay tribute to the airline’s Queensland hometown and the new -400 series superior range capability.

-OJA entered revenue service on 6 September 1989, when it operated Sydney – Melbourne and return as QF28/QF1. In the 25 years since it has completed nearly 106,000 hours of flying over 13,800 cycles. And now its last commercial service – QF107 – before continuing tomorrow to retirement at Mohave.

Images: Jeremy William, Editor, Carry-on