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tv   The Virus that Killed the Jumbo...  BBC News  December 29, 2020 5:30am-6:01am GMT

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this is bbc news. the headlines: us president—electjoe biden has complained that his transition team are facing what he called irresponsible obstruction from the political leadership at the department of defense. mr biden said his staff were not getting adequate information and briefings on key national security matters. all three major us share indices have closed at record highs after donald trump signed into law a massive coronavirus stimulus and government spending package. the rollout of more covid—19 vaccines and a post—brexit trade deal are also helping to drive up investor sentiment. hospitals in england are now treating more coronavirus patients than at any other point in the pandemic, as numbers surpass the peak that was seen in april. the head of nhs england said health workers are "back in the eye of the storm".
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now on bbc news: 2020 was supposed to celebrate 50 years of the iconic 7a7 jumbo jet and mass air travel. instead, covid—19 brought catastrophe to the aviation industry. for half a century, this 400—seat man—made giant has roamed the planet. but the pandemic has now forced the jumbo jet to near extinction. this is the biggest crisis the airline industry has ever faced. and as they think about their very survival, the jumbo jet is just not part of that future. 50 years ago, the 7a7 opened up the world. now, covid—19 is closing much of it down. as passenger numbers dwindle, this is the pandemic that killed the jumbo jet. as airlines shed thousands ofjobs, the 7a7 goes
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from flagship to scrapyard. i've just delivered you to end your life and that's really sad thing a pilot. i apologised to one once, "i'm really sorry. " we just use the machine and actually chew the aircraft up, and it gets sold off as scrap metal. i'm on a voyage to witness the last days of the jumbo jet and trace the pioneers that, half a century ago, put this giant in the sky. archive: the first giant 747 is presented to the world. people thought that an aeroplane this big just wouldn't fly. a symbol of power — beast of burden, and she's carried over 5 billion of us across the planet. cheers! now, as boeing ends production... over radio: it's with heavy heart that we take—off on this last flight. ..covid—i9 has written the final chapter.
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the covid—i9 pandemic has decimated demand for air travel. worldwide, these giants of aviation are parking up — many to never fly again. british airways is scrapping its entire fleet of 31 7a7s. klm, virgin and qantas also saying goodbye. covid had a devastating impact on the aviation industry. we are not anticipating seeing particularly long—haul passenger demand return out to 2024-2025. there isn't enough demand to justify the use of a very large aircraft. loyal operators of the 747 imagined their 747s having another few years before they went into a gracious graceful retirement. instead, they've just had to stop them, that's it.
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applause sydney, and as a big farewell as the last qantas 7a7 jumbo jet departs australia for the breakage yard. radio: on this bittersweet day as we all suffer through this covid crisis — on behalf of australian people all over the country, many of whom have flown with you, godspeed. on board, it's a 14—hour flight to its final resting place in america's mojave desert. airlines around the world have had massive farewells to their 7a7s, but once the last champagne has been sipped, this is where it ends. these remote desert boneyards are where planes come to die. analysts say covid—i9 has left world airlines with over 4,000 surplus aircraft — the oldest and largest are most vulnerable.
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radio: we are seeing descent to 3000. from high above, the qantas crew spot there 747s' final resting place. mojave is known as the place where aircraft go to die. and yet, we arrived with this viable, living, breathing aeroplane, and so we were taking this thing with a soul into a place where very nearby, there were aircraft who had met their final end. everyone took a turn of doing something, like shutting down an engine, or a switch or whatever so that we all participated in putting her to bed. the 7a7 — once the pride of qantas — connected australia with the world for 50 years. the 7a7 obviously changed the way people travel. up until then, aviation was an expensive business, it was not something for the masses, particularly long—haul travel. we shouldn't be surprised that a 50—year—old aircraft is no longer fit for purpose.
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four engines rather than two, its technology is of the 60s and 70s. we've moved on a long way, and more than 787 or an a350, are probably between 30—50% more fuel efficient. in the boneyard, you get a chance to witness the sheer size of a jumbo. so, right now, i'm in the wing of a 747. but like a vast dinosaur, that size has now speeded its extinction. people do not want to fly in these huge planes and make connecting flights. i think increasingly now, with covid—i9, people are going to be reluctant to change planes too often. they're going to be reluctant to change flights too often, they are going to want to fly to airport a to airport to b, and for that, you need
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smaller planes. it's notjust the 747 coming to an end, production of its rival, airbus 380, also ends next year. on a cold winter day last january, airbus unveiled this mighty double—decker forjapan‘s all nippon airways. with 550 seats, it's even bigger than boeing's 747. it costs $445 million. but because of the pandemic, it's yet to carry a single paying passenger. the idea that you've bought an aircraft, and it's parked up, not carrying passengers, really is the antithesis of business sense. it means you are losing money, both in the value of the product, but also in keeping it fit to fly. some of those planes will come back into service, for the 747, in many cases, this is the end. british airways, the biggest flyer, the biggest company with 747s, 31 of them, they have announced they are never going to fly again. that's dramatic.
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and so the engine's come off first? the engines come off first, yeah. at air salvage international, mark gregory is already breaking up the unwanted 747s. it will be towed from here down to our break—up site. after we removed the last engine there. with so many being retired, there's not an awful lot of value in the aircraft as spare parts. a lucky few might be converted into freighters — the rest, crushed. we just use the machine and actually chew the aircraft up, and it gets sold off as scrap metal. unfortunately, scrap metal at the moment is down. it goes to make things like tin cans, anything else made out of aluminium. we've been inundated with calls from particularly ba staff that have been made redundant for parts of this aircraft.
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back at london heathrow, this 25—year—old 747 is about to make its very last journey. how does it feel saying goodbye? oh, well, it is emotional. you know, i have flown these for 20—odd years now, it's just the scale of it is unbelievable. i remember the first time i actually came to fly it and walked around it and thought, "wow, this is incredible. how does it fly?" nearly 400 tonnes of it that gets up in the air. it's incredible. ba's india victor delta is checked and ready to go. 0nly memories fill her 345 empty seats. how is it going to be flying this off on its last flight? that's a really sad thing for a pilot to see aeroplanes that are — that can still fly. i personally find it quite emotional, that you land it, then you taxi it, and then you shut it down. and i remember, i apologised to one once. it was like, you know, "i'm really sorry."
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"i've just delivered you to end your life, as it were." this has been an absolute part of british airways history for over 50 years. the modern aircraft are more fuel efficient, so it makes sense on those thinner routes at the moment to fly those modern aircraft. with 50 million miles on the clock, india victor delta leaves heathrow for the last time. radio: it's been a pleasure and a privilege on behalf of all pilots and crew to fly this aircraft. it's with a heavy heart that we take this aircraft on its last flight. thank you very much. the vision for this giant came from the 60s, space, speed, size — apollo, concorde, the jumbo. mankind seemed unstoppable. before the covid pandemic, i was lucky enough to meet some of the pioneers that
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built the very first 747. until the 1960s, aviation had been for the rich. but the founder of pan am, juan trippe had a vision. so, this is a 747 named after my father, juan t trippe. we're christening the first pan am 747 to come off the line. do you remember this? it was a magnificent day. what did your father want to achieve with the 747? he believed in the 747, that that would be an opportunity to really develop new markets where people could fly for a much lowerfare. conveniently, trippe's best friend was the boss at boeing, bill allen. they were close friends, they would go off on these fishing trips, two old friend saying, "all right, you build it, ru buy it." "i'll buy it if you build it." two and half times larger than anything they'd ever built or flown before. it was a huge aeroplane. boeing set about turning
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a vision into an aircraft. this plane was so big that boeing bet the company. here in the united states, we call it the greatest generation. they came through the depression, they lived that hard life, they fought the war, they had been tested, they believed that they could do anything. pan am's juan trippe insisted there be two decks. people would come to them and say, "we can't add a second level to this aeroplane." and he had this expression, "well, don't you see?" and he'd start in, "well, don't you see, if we did this..." and he would wear people down. and he got what he wanted — revolution, not evolution. the giant was born. huge, it was breathtaking. we stepped into the plant, and in front of us was this monstrous 747. can't repeat what everybody said when they first take a look at this aeroplane,
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it was a massive wake—up call. bond-style music plays archive: the first giant 747 is presented to the world. dad was thrilled when the 747 was actually a reality. a world launch, but few knew it still couldn't fly. today, that very first 747 rests at seattle's museum of flight. so these represented people for the weight. barry latter worked on board as a test engineer. carrying 350 people around the sky, you didn't want to put one in the ground. everything was duplicated for safety. there are still people who say it's not going to fly. and quite literally, that the aeroplane is not going to get off the ground. and going forward to that first flight, bill allen says to our chief test pilot, he says, "the company is riding on this, so don't screw it up."
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and he's like, "gee, thanks, mr allen!" the brakes were released and the aeroplane started to roll down the runway. lots of spray. we saw it disappear almost into a spray. it was tense for everybody, because you really needed to know, "will this thing fly?" i was involved with the power plant systems and we had a lot of concerns there relative to whether the engine would stay lit. radio: everything looks very normal on the right side. being so big, it looked slow. when it came back to land, we looked at it and i think all of us have the feeling of, "my god, what kind of speed is he flying at?" to help allay public fears of flying this giant, test pilots dressed casually, no jumpsuits. radio: that thing is just ridiculously easy to fly. it'sjust a pilot's dream. it's hard to imagine, but when this was first rolled
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out, there was a fear that she'd end up more cinderella than queen of the skies. rotate... only two months after the 747 first flew, the british and french tested their vision of the future — concorde travelling twice the speed of sound. at this time, aviation‘s at a crossroads, can we all enjoy the supersonic speed of getting to our destinations quickly, or will we be travelling with 450 others? so nobody knew at this time, but the race was on. if supersonic won that battle, boeing had built the hump into the jumbo's nose so it could be turned into a lowly freighter, but concorde faced a barrage of american environmental and business lobbies. so with the final scorecard tallied, over 1,500 747s were built, and only 14 concordes saw services with british airways and air france. so, you be thejudge. 28 airlines signed up for the 747s. archive: 362 passengers. they'll need new airports
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to take care of these. man, how are they ever going to get that thing in the air? and what to do with all of those passengers. archive: airports themselves can't yet cope with huge numbers of passengers suddenly descending on them. everyone remembers the crew walking step— by—step, looking up at that aircraft, and the closer we got, the bigger it got. and thinking, "how are we going to do this?" seats as far as you could see, it was very frightening to start that. yeah, every country you went to, crowds, standing, watching it come in. as test flights and tours created jumbo mania, britain's baoc — later to become british airways — sent their man, hugh dibbley to america to learn how to fly a jumbo. there were no simulators — just the real thing. i think there were about ten of us on the flight deck watching this, and you had no
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idea that for the first landing, how high you are up from the ground, and it really was like landing a block of flats. they thought they were landing when they were at the beginning of the runway, but the wheels were still over the grass. yes, it was very nice to be able to look down on the peasants and the mini jets below. as hugh grappled with his flying block of flats, designers got to work on ocean liner style interiors — in every colour. the size and the scope of this aeroplane allowed the size of people's imaginations to grow. bond style music plays. the imaginations of the designers went wild, and it was not only upstairs, the lounge where they could do this, but they could go downstairs, this giant cargo hold and turn that into a lounge area. and so you had these wonderful ideas, like the tiger lounge, where you have the spiral staircase going down and these wild fabrics and mirrors and shag carpeting.
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it's our race for a luxury that continues on big jets to this day. there were even new treats in economy, movies were in and fares were down. before the pandemic, we brought hugh back to london's heathrow with al bridger, british airway‘s top 747 pilot. slightly different than what you're used to. oh, this is a big change, of course. flatbed seats. so, this is where you wanted to come and see, hugh. come and see the flight deck. yes. this is all screens, where as we had proper instruments. it wasn't all clockwork, boeing had installed space age autopilot. it was used for the apollo projects. we would go down a corridor, and on the right would be all the apollo astronauts. wow. it was the aircraft that they had taken to the moon. yeah. now, on the other side of it on the cargo would be pictures
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of the government — because it was the same system. absolutely, there's just something about it, isn't it? it's iconic, it's fabulous, and you have a real affinity to it, a love for it. but it was pan am that 50 years ago made the world's first 747 passenger flight from new york to london. it certainly didn't go to plan. before the pandemic, i traced one of the original crew to norway. laughing. amazing to meet you. welcome to norway! so this is you on the first flight? yes, just after landing in london, and me in between the captains. does it still fit? yes, see. but the glitz of the very first flight was tarnished by its giant, new engines. something happened before take—off. one of the engines heated up. some people said that they had seen flames, maybe they did, or they imagined it. but the captain decided to go back to the terminal. the world's press watched the world's biggestjet return. archive: disappointed? well, sure.
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0n the tarmac, pan am's ron marasco. it was a state of shock throughout the facility. this was our worst nightmare. archive: any sense of fear? no, i mean, they said something was burning, and we got off. a man—made giant crossing the atlantic, cynics had heard that before. there were people outside who were demonstrating that this had all the earmarks of the titanic. some people even went off the aeroplane and said, "never again," they never came back. i think it was about 30 passengers who didn't want to go back. when we inspected the engine, there was molten metal in the tailpipe. hidden away, the only other 747 was secretly swapped.
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we arrived at the hangar, the painters had just finished stencilling the name of the original departure aircraft, clipper young america. seven hours late, paint still wet, they tried again. it was very, very, very quiet when we took off. do you think people were nervous? yes, of course, it's for all of us a new thing. so we decided to start serving champagne, and a person told us, "hey, ladies, come on, keep serving champagne, they won't even know if they open up the air underground." it landed safely. today, those early engine problems might have grounded the fleet, back then, the size of the 747 made better headlines than its glitches. those became footnotes, frankly. at the end of the day, the plane was a huge success. 50 years on, and the us president still insists only a jumbo will do for air force one. costing nearly $4 billion, boeing's very last two passenger 747s will replace this 30—year—old one. if you're the president
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of the united states, you want to have the biggest and the baddest aeroplane on the block. this is it. rock music plays. bruce dickinson from rock band iron maiden is a licensed 747 pilot. he understands why the president refused a smaller twin—engine jet. on this aeroplane, you've got four engines, the aeroplane will fly on one. so you can lose three. if you're the president of the united states and people are going to maybe shoot at you, then that's a good reason for having four. this is the first time i've seen this big boy! whoa! bruce was certified to fly the 747 while recovering from throat cancer. he then planned a world tour in a customised iron maiden jumbojet — ed force one.
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my manager said this is going to be a pretty big story, 'cause you're coming back from throat cancer, you're going to be flying a 747 around the world with iron maiden. and the colour scheme on it was just to die for. to be the comeback kid on this beautiful machine, i mean, it was a privilege. what a great feeling it is to fly one of these aeroplanes. you can't turn all of them into coke cans. you do feel like you're in the queen of the skies. machines whir. so, what can you do with a 400—tonne retired aircraft? in america, mert balta tried selling an entire 747 on ebay for $300,000, but no buyer could get it out of the desert. so, i don't look at it as grave robbing as much any more. but now he carves them up forfans, your very own pilot seat or an entire 747 nose.
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it's a bittersweet feeling. you see something ending, but you see the start of a new life. our next step is to turn some of this beautiful engineering into offices and living spaces, and you'll be able to literally live inside a piece of aviation history. anything that's coming out of here is not coming out. this is where they come to die. back in the desert, i'm with big imagination, with crowdfunding, they‘ re taking a 747 on a road trip. the 747 is so gigantic, you can'tjust take it down the highway. so what we've had to do is we had to take the upper half of the plane off. so we are disassembling it and then we are going to move it 500 miles. they've already moved the entire upper section
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of their reincarnated 747, welcoming fans to the legendary burning man art festival in nevada last year. it's been reborn as an artist. this plane is now going to become a musician, it's going to become a party palace of sorts. and it's going to be a whole lot of fun for a lot of people. it lives on. sadly, project and festival are now on hold because of the pandemic. over in amsterdam, a lucky retired klm 747 has been stripped down, repainted and repositioned as a visitor centre on the history of aviation — an epic story the 747 has starred and for 50 years. a double—decker aircraft, who would've believed it? you can see my grandkids in years to come that i will be saying, "well, i flew a double—decker aircraft",
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because they won't believe it. it moved more people than a modern aircraft in a single day. it's incredible. the 747, born alongside concorde and apollo, its long voyage finally brought to rest by the pandemic of 2020. oh, i think one's heart aches and one thinks back to the days that we had such great times. and it allowed so many people to fly all over the world. radio: we're going to miss you, girl. it was the queen of the sky. but it also was the mother of everything that followed it. i still feel like a pioneer. she was a classy, classy, elegant lady. radio: everything looks very normal. a wonderful machine, ijust feel like home in here. when we pause and look up at the sky and see the 747, we can say, when we're at our best, that's what we can achieve.
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a very frosty night out there in the glens of scotland. temperatures are not far off —10 degrees celsius, and over the next few days, it certainly is going to be cold enough for further wintry weather. not all of it pure snow, there will probably be some sleet around as well. now, the cold air has spread across many parts of the continent. the point is it's here to stay, so we're not going to see a wave of milder air coming off the atlantic any time soon. through the early hours, we're expecting snow showers across parts of scotland and also across the pennines. you can see sub—zero temperatures here, icy conditions in some areas as well. to the south of that, i think hit and miss showers. now, this is what happens through the morning. the wintry weather, for some of us, spreads from the north into the north west of england, through parts of the midlands, parts of wales and quite
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possibly the south west. the snow showers continue across parts of scotland. elsewhere in the uk on tuesday, it's going to be a mixture of sunny spells and just the odd fleeting shower, perhaps wintry. and then through the course of tuesday evening, you can see snow and wintry showers continue there in scotland. elsewhere, it's going to be largely clear. here is the forecast for tuesday night into wednesday, and we expect the next spell of wintry weather coming in from the north—west, moving across ireland and then eventually into wales. now, again, there's a lot of cold air sitting across the uk. just hints of something a bit milder nibbling in the south west, but that's pretty much it. on wednesday, the next spell of wintry weather moves across ireland through the early hours, and then the thinking is it will move into wales. remember, there's a lot of cold air sitting on top of the uk, and then that wintry weather spreads quite possibly into the midlands, the south west and the south. north of that, it's clearer, some snow across scotland,
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and temperatures around freezing. notice that over the next few days, heading towards the end of the week, we see certain areas of rain and snow mixed in, circling in areas, so there could be some substantial snow towards the end of the week. i say substantial, a covering. this is what it looks like, a sneak peek of new year's day, chilly and dry for now. bye— bye.
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good morning, welcome to breakfast with louise minchin and rogerjohnson. our headlines today: back in the eye of the storm — there are now more covid patents in england's hospitals than there were at the peak in spring. 1,500 military personnel will help secondary schools and colleges in england carry out mass testing from next week. good morning. boxing day onwards is supposed to be bumper in retail. but not this year. how are the high streets faring at the end of a roller—coaster year? in sport, a coronavirus outbreak in the manchester city squad forces the postponement of last night's premier league match with everton. it was called off just four hours before kick—off.


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