British Airways has unveiled a Boeing 747 with a distinctly retro look to mark its 100th anniversary celebrations. Read on for more about the ‘BOAC Jumbo’ – plus pictures of more ‘celebrity’ aircraft spotted on our runways in recent years.
British Airways ‘BOAC 747’
British Airways repainted one of its Boeing 747s in the livery of the British Overseas Airways Corporation as part of its centenary celebrations in 2019.
The aircraft arrived at Heathrow on 18th February, fresh from repainting in Dublin and ready to operate flight BA117 the following day.
Days earlier, the Boeing 747 itself marked 50 years of commercial service – its first test flight took place at Paine Field, Washington State, on 9th February 1969.
Newer models of the twin-deck ‘Jumbo Jet’ are still being made, and British Airways plans to operate them until 2023. They’ll be replaced with Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s.
The elegant BOAC livery dates from 1964–1974, when the company began to replace older VC10 jets with 747s.
The airline now known as British Airways had its beginnings in August 1919, as Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited. The company went through various mergers, becoming Daimler Airways, Imperial Airways and eventually the nationalised BOAC. British Airways was created in 1974, from a merger of BOAC with BEA, and privatised in 1987.
Brussels Airlines ‘Tintin’ jet
Spotted recently at Heathrow, this Tintin-themed Airbus A320 – named Rackham by owner Brussels Airways – celebrates one of Belgium’s most famous exports.
The design is based on the ‘shark submarine’ in Hergé’s 1944 classic Red Rackham’s Treasure.
You can watch time-lapse footage of the aircraft being painted at the airline’s official YouTube channel.
Rackham is one of a series of designs celebrating Belgian icons to adorn Brussels Airlines aircraft. Others show surrealist artist René Magritte, the Tomorrowland music festival and the Smurfs.
Aer Lingus ‘1960s Airbus’
This retro airliner has been sporting Aer Lingus’ 1960s–1970s colours since entering service in 2011 – the airline’s 75th anniversary year.
The retro shamrock, teal stripes and 1960s typeface would originally have appeared on Boeing 720 and 707 jets. The newer, smaller A320 is a regular on the airfield at Heathrow, carrying travellers to and from Dublin and Shannon.
This year Aer Lingus announced a makeover for its entire fleet, introducing a white-with-teal-highlights livery that might just owe something to its earlier years.
Lufthansa goes retro
Lufthansa took delivery of this 1960s-look A321 jet in December 2012. It’s pictured here one evening in May 2015, on stand at Terminal 2.
The airline has also painted one of its new Boeing 747-8 double-deckers in classic 1970s livery.
SAS flies back in time
Another retrojet livery, this time on SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A319 OY-KBO. This photo was taken on-stand at Terminal 2 in September 2014. The livery is based on the airline’s original ‘Viking’ colour scheme, featuring a stylised dragon’s head.
Here’s Aeromexico’s special-livery Dreamliner, named Quetzalcoatl after a godess of pre-Hispanic Mexico. The name means ‘feathered serpent’ – as seen in the multicoloured design. The pattern was chosen from more than 1,000 entries in a public design competition.
The complex winning design, by graphic artist Jose Manuel Escudero, took nine days to apply to the aircraft.
Quetzalcoatl, otherwise known as XA-ADL, is pictured here on a wet November day at Heathrow in 2016.
Icelandair painted this Boeing 757 in a unique Northern Lights scheme and named the aircraft Hekla Aurora. Hekla is a traditional Icelandic girl’s name, also given to one of the island’s volcanoes.
The striking design doesn’t stop on the aircraft’s fuselage, either – Icelandair also installed one-of-a-kind mood lighting, intended to resemble the aurora borealis.
It’s pictured here at Heathrow in March 2015, taxiing towards Terminal 2B.
Meet Emily, the Qantas Dreamliner that worked the first non-stop Perth-London flight in 2018.
Emily (aka VH-ZND) received a special livery for the inaugural flight QF009, created by Balarinji based on the artwork Yam Dreaming by Emily Kame Kngwarreye. You can see more of Emily here.
QF009 is the first non-stop flight between Europe and Australia, and the third-longest commercial flight in operation.
We still see Emily regularly at Heathrow Terminal 3.
Now show us yours!
We’d love to see your photos of ‘specials’ at Heathrow. Copy us in on Twitter @HeathrowAirport or tell us more in the comments.