Aircraft By Type

Aircraft Make & Model:
Boeing 747-132
680,000 lbs.
6,000 statute miles
625 mph
370 passengers (66 First Class, including a 6-passenger penthouse; 304 Economy Class)
231 ft., 4 in.
195 ft., 8 in.
63 ft., 5 in.
4 Pratt & Whitney JT9D-1
HP or Thrust:
164,000 lbs.
No. flown by DL:
35 total: 5 Model 100, 16 Model 400, 2 Model 200, 12 Model 200F
Between major domestic cities and Pan Am interchange to London-Heathrow and Frankfurt in the 1970s; mainly international routes in 2008-2017.
First Delivery:
October 2, 1970
First Scheduled Service:
October 25, 1970 (Atlanta-Dallas-Los Angeles)
Reason Aquired:
Improved speed, size and passenger comfort on long flights.
Last Retirement:
Last revenue schedule flight: December 19, 2017 (Seoul-Detroit); Last charter flight: January 2, 2018
Reason Disposed:
Replaced with more compact and efficient, two-engine aircraft.

Narrative:  Boeing 747 1970-1977, 2008-2017

"The 747 is totally unlike any other aircraft, piston or jet. A triumph of American technology, the 747 will bring to our passengers a standard of comfort and convenience no longer limited by the size of an aircraft cabin." Delta Senior Vice President of Marketing T.M. Miller
Known as the “Queen of the Skies,” the 747 was one of the most popular and recognizable aircraft in the world. When the 747 made its first commercial flight in 1970 with Pan Am, critics thought the aircraft would soon become obsolete as designers believed that supersonic aircraft would be taking over the skies. However, the four-engine jumbo jet revolutionized the industry with its exceptional long-haul flight capability and sheer size, nearly three times larger than the largest jet flying at the time.

  • Delta 747s offered the "world's first flying penthouse apartment" located above the First Class cabin and adjacent to the First Class lounge. Seats for 6 passengers sold as a unit. Staffed by a flight attendant." See 747 Penthouse brochure.
  • First Delta plane with a personal audio system for passengers, offering seven "Deltasonic" channels playing the Beatles, Bert Bacharach and Beethoven in 1970.
  • First Delta plane with overhead bins for carry-on bags instead of open racks. 
  • First issue of Delta's in-flight magazine Sky, released in November 1971, featured the 747 on its cover. 
Learn more about 747 amenities and technology. See Delta 747 brochure.

747-100 Service
Delta's first 747 (N9896, Ship 101) delivered to Atlanta on October 2, 1970, piloted by Capt. T. P. "Pre" Ball, Delta vice president - flight operations. Four more 747s delivered to Delta by November 1971.

At special dedication ceremonies on October 24, 1970, in Atlanta, Georgia Governor Lester G. Maddox christened Delta Ship 101 "Georgia Belle," sprinkling gold dust over the plane's nose from Georgia's Dahlonega mines. Recalling that Dahlonega, a city in the north Georgia mountains, was site of America's first gold rush, Maddox added, "All the gold mined in Dahlonega could never total in value the amount of goodwill this airplane can deliver."

Following day, October 25, Georgia Belle went into service with one daily roundtrip from Atlanta-Dallas-Los Angeles. Delta used its 747 fleet between the major cities of its route system including: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco.

Delta 747s were also used on the Delta/Pan Am European interchange, flying from Atlanta and Washington, DC-Dulles over Pan Am's transatlantic routes on April 25, 1971. Delta's employee magazine reported that Ship 105 "caused something of a sensation when it first appeared in London and Frankfurt, on the Delta-Pan American Interchange…the first Delta 747 ever seen in Europe."

747-100s Retire
Delta found the 747 too large for its routes, and began trading them back to Boeing in September 1974. The last of the five original Delta 747s, Ship 105, flew on April 23, 1977. It was piloted by Capt. Beverly Dickerson, who had also flown Delta's first 747 scheduled flight in 1970. The smaller Lockheed L-1011 remained Delta's only widebody jet, until the arrival of the Boeing 767 in 1982.

747s are Back!
Thirty years later, a merger with Northwest Airlines in 2008 brought the 747 back to the Delta fleet: 16 Model 400's, 2 Model 200's and 12 Model 200 freighters.


  • 65 BusinessElite seats and 338 economy class seats for a total capacity of 403.
  • Ship 6305 was first Northwest 747-400 repainted in Delta livery.
  • Ship 6301 was the first 747-400 built by Boeing. 
  • 2 Boeing 747-251B passenger planes remained in Northwest's fleet at time of merger with Delta. Used only for charter service. Northwest had retired its last 747-200 from scheduled passenger service on September 12, 2007—the end of transpacific service for 747-200's worldwide. 
  • Final charter service: military charter flights on November 25, 2009 (aircraft N623US) and November 27 (aircraft N624US). This was final 747-200 passenger service in U.S.
  • 747-200 dedicated cargo fleet that Delta inherited from Northwest flew final freighter flights to Chicago (from Osaka) and Los Angeles (from Shanghai) on December 19, 2009.
Last 747 Flights

Delta retired its 747 fleet for the second and final time in 2017, replacing the 747-400 with more compact and efficient, twin-engine aircraft, such as the Airbus 350. The drawdown began on September 30, 2014, when three of the 16 Boeing 747-400s inherited from Northwest Airlines retired.

The first Boeing 747-400 ever built—Ship 6301—retired from service on September 9, 2015, after logging more than 61 million miles. You can now tour it as the 747 Experience at the Delta Flight Museum.

Delta's last scheduled domestic 747 flight was intended to be an overnight flight with Ship 6309 (N669US) leaving Los Angeles for Detroit on September 5, 2017. However, with Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida, Delta added new flights ahead of the storm to assist evacuating passengers, including several roundtrip 747 flights between Detroit and Orlando on September 8 and 9, 2017.

In December 2017, Delta became the last U.S. airline to retire the Boeing 747, ending 47 years of service by Northwest Airlines and Delta combined. 

  • Last U.S. departure, DL159A, left Detroit on December 18, arriving at Seoul-Incheon on December 19. It was a recovery flight for the original Dec. 17 flight (DL159), cancelled due to lack of pilot staffing. The unique DL159A flight number was assigned to the delayed 747 flight departing on Dec. 18 as there was already an Airbus A350 scheduled to fly as DL159 later that day.
  • Final scheduled revenue flight, DL158, left Seoul-Incheon on December 19, 2017, arriving in Detroit on December 19.  
  • Ship 6306 (N666US) flew both final revenue flights. It was the ninth 747-400 built, and the oldest one flying in the world. Ship 6306 first flew on July 31, 1989, and was delivered to Northwest on August 18, 1989. 

Delta also took a 747-400 (N674US, Ship 6314) on an employee farewell tour: Detroit to Seattle on December 18, with a special stop at Everett's Paine Field, home of Boeing's final assembly production line that produced the 747 fleet; Seattle to Atlanta on December 19; and Atlanta to Minneapolis-St. Paul on December 20. 

In its final days with Delta, the 747 flew charter flights, carrying NFL and college football teams to championship games. Between December 22, 2017 and January 2, 2018, the 747 visited the following airports: ATL, BUF, DFW, DTW, EWR, FLL, GSP, LAX, MSY, SAN and SEA. Ship 6306 and Ship 6310 (N670US) were withdrawn from service on December 26, leaving Ship 6314 as the final 747 in Delta's fleet.

More Information

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