Boeing Aircraft Take Qantas Further
The final 707 flight operated from Auckland to Sydney on 25 March 1979 under the command of Captain Phil Oakley. With the sale of this last Boeing 707, Qantas boasted the world's only all-747 fleet, with 17 of the aircraft. In the same year Qantas launched the world's first Business Class.
During the next few years Qantas took delivery of several 747 variations - the shorter SP (Special Performance) version, the Combi (passenger/cargo configuration) and the EUD (Extended Upper Deck). Qantas changed to Rolls-Royce engines for its 747s.
The all 747 fleet satisfied Qantas' needs for several years.
In 1985 the airline introduced Boeing 767-238ER (Extended Range) aircraft powered by two Pratt and Whitney engines on New Zealand, Asian and Pacific routes.
In 1987 Qantas ordered the longer 767-338ER model with more powerful General Electric CF6-80 engines.
Qantas embarked on a large-scale fleet modernisation in 1987 by ordering 747-438 aircraft with their distinctive two metre high winglets to improve aerodynamics and range. Advanced avionics meant a flight engineer was not required.
Qantas named the 400 series aircraft 'Longreach' to convey their exceptional range and commemorate the Queensland town where the airline was based in its early years.
On 17 August 1989 the first Qantas 747-400, VH-OJA 'City of Canberra', touched down at Sydney Airport after a non-stop flight from London to Sydney. The 18,001km flight, under the command of Captain David Massy-Greene, took 20 hours, nine minutes and five seconds and established a new world distance record for a commercial aircraft. When Qantas had helped establish the Kangaroo Route in 1935 it had taken five different aircraft types, three airlines, 42 refuelling calls, two railways and up to 14 days to bridge the same gap.