Welcome (to) “Rio de Janeiro”!
Another airline just joined the Aviationtag fleet and we will give you some interesting background information about the former KLM Boeing 747 today.
This airplane is actually a Boeing 747-400 M, so a passenger/cargo or “Combi” variant to be precise. This specific aircraft type first flew on June 30, 1989 and entered service with KLM on September 12, 1989. It has a large cargo door fitted to the rear of the fuselage for freight loading to the aft main deck cargo hold. A locked partition separates the cargo area from the forward passenger cabin, and the -400M also features additional fire protection, a strengthened main deck floor, a roller-conveyor system, and passenger-to-cargo conversion equipment. The last 747-400M was delivered to KLM on April 10, 2002.
But back to our PH-BFR: Boeing built this airframe with the line number 1014 and the manufacturer serial number (MSN) 27202 in 1993 and it was delivered to KLM in January 1994 where it had its inaugural flight on January 6th. It had a configuration of C35 W36 and Y197 and was powered by four powerful GE CF6-80C2B1F engines. KLM got the registration PH-BFR for it and called it “Rio de Janeiro”. Did she ever make it to Rio de Janeiro though? Probably since the list of destinations it flew to is long: Los Angeles, Mexico, New York, Tokyo, Bangkok, Beijing or Hong Kong just to name a few.
In Hong Kong Chep Lap Kong she might have actually met her sister from Cathay Pacific – our popular B-HUI at that time as well.
On June 4th 2017 the PH-BFR had an accident en route from Amsterdam (Netherlands) to Hong Kong (China). At an elevation of apx. 9.000 meters and about half an hour before landing in Hong Kong the aircraft encountered severe turbulence for a couple of seconds. Since the seat belts signs were not illuminated some passengers were thrown against the ceiling and then back on the floor. The crew advised air traffic control of injuries on board and requested emergency services and medical staff to meet the aircraft upon arrival. The “Rio de Janeiro” continued for a safe landing in Hong Kong about 30-40 minutes later. A total of 9 people were medically assessed at the airport, 8 of them were taken to a hospital. Passengers later reported the turbulence lasted 3-4 seconds, everything not secured properly was thrown against the ceiling and then against the floor.
A little later in 2017, on the 28th of October, KLM withdrew the PH-BFR from use after 23 years. On December the 6th this queen of the skies made its last flight with the flight number KL747. After a flight time of only 29 minutes it landed in Enschede at 13:06. After it landed in Enschede she faced another “incident”: After slowing safely on runway 23 and stopping at the end of the runway, three roe deer walked across the runway eyeing the aircraft. The crew spotted the animals and greeted them warmly, too.
In August 2018 the PH-BFR dismantling process was completed and the Boeing 747-400M was scrapped. We will share some more insights about the finals days of the “Rio de Janeiro” in a separate blog post, so stay tuned. And while you are waiting: Did you actually get your Aviationtag already?