VH-EAB. Boeing 747SP-38. c/n 22672-537.


This was the second of two such aircraft ordered new by Qantas with the contract signed in June 1980. This aircraft was ordered with Rolls Royce RB211-524B2 engines instead on the standard Pratt & Whitney JT9D powerplants. It was rolled off the Boeing production line at Everett in July 1981.


It was flown for the first time as N1791B on August 03, 1981 and was officially entered onto Australian Aircraft Register as VH-EAB on August 31, 1981. It was registered to Winton Leasing Ltd and leased to Qantas Airways Ltd, Sydney. It was accepted by Qantas at Everett on August 31, 1981 before being ferried Everett - Vancouver - Everett as QF521/522 under the command of Captains L. W. Clark and A. E. Bones to overcome the legalities of the lease agreement.


The aircraft was named 'Winton' at Everett on September 01, 1981 before departing as QF501D on its delivery flight to Australia again under the command of Captains L. W. Clark and A. E. Bones. It arrived in Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport on September 02, 1981 having flown Seattle - Honolulu - Sydney. It operated its first revenue service when it flew Sydney - Wellington as QF55 on September 11, 1981.


To mark the Commonwealth Games that were to be staged in Brisbane the aircraft carried a modified version of the 'Official Carrier Brisbane 1982 Commonwealth Games' titles from September 01, 1981. In 1982 its engines where upgraded to Rolls Royce RB211-524DE powerplants by Boeing at Everett.
The aircraft was repainted into 'Spirit of Australia' livery in October 1986. It operated its first service in the new livery when it flew Sydney - Perth - Sydney as QF7 / QF15 on November 03, 1986.


This repaint was in preparation for the special charter that it would undertake later that month. It was ferried Sydney - Perth as QF161 for this charter on November 30, 1986. The following day it was used on the 'Vatican Papal' charter by Pope John II as QF161. It had the official 'Papal Coat of Arms' applied to the side of the aircraft. It flew Perth -Seychelles - Rome (Ciampino) under the command of Captains J. K. Davenport and R. J. Carmichael. It then ferried Rome (Ciampino) to London (Heathrow) as QF161 on December 02, 1986 before returning to normal service London -Bombay - Sydney on December 03 - 05, 1986.


It was listed 'for sale' by Qantas on March 01, 1990. Despite this 'for sale' listing it continued to be operated on regular services. It was renamed 'City of Traralgon' at Sydney on January 22, 1991.


In the early 1990s Australia was actively seeking to host the 2000 Olympic Games. A 'Sydney 2000' Olympic sticker was applied to the cabin behind the cockpit to promote Sydney's bid in November 1993.


It was leased to Australia Asia Airlines on April 18, 1994. Australia Asia Airlines was a wholly owned Qantas subsidiary that was set up in October 1991 to meet the political sensibilities of the Chinese Government concerning aircraft of Australia's national airline serving Taiwan, a province which rejected the authority of the Government in Beijing.


VH-EAB operated the final Australia Asia 747SP Sydney - Taipei - Sydney service as QF135 / 136 on June 30, 1996. At the conclusion of this flight its lease was terminated and it was returned to regular Qantas service. The aircraft was again listed 'for sale' by Qantas on January 01, 1997 but continued normal operations. It was ferried Sydney - Amarillo, Texas non-stop for maintenance on June 20, 1997. The new 'The Australian Airline' subtitle was applied to the aircraft on January 01, 2000.


VH-EAB operated its final Qantas passenger service when it flew Honolulu - Sydney as QF004 / 23 on November 24, 2001. It was officially withdrawn from use at Sydney the same day and prepared for ferrying to the United States for storage and hopeful sale. It departed Sydney for the last time operating a supplementary freighter service to Honolulu as QF7571 on November 29, 2001.


It was then ferried Honolulu - Marana as QF6019 by Captain B. Simpson the same day for storage. The aircraft was officially cancelled from Australian Aircraft Register on December 20, 2001. Shortly thereafter its engines were removed and returned to Qantas in Sydney. The aircraft was not sold so scrapping was commenced at Marana in April 2002. It had flown 69,469 hours with 15,098 cycles.



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