ZS-SPA. Boeing 747SP-44. c/n 21132-280.


 

South African Airways became the second largest operator of the B-747SP after Pan Am / United. The airline announced an order for three airframes on July 16, 1974. Each airframe was valued at some $US 29,000,000.


This was the sixth Boeing 747SP to fly. Rolled out of the Boeing assembly plant on January 27, 1976 it was powered by Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7FW engines. Entered onto the South African Aircraft Register as ZS-SPA she flew for the first time on February 17, 1976. Following its acceptance by South African Airways at Paine Field on March 19, 1976 it departed on a record breaking non-stop flight to Cape Town, South Africa on March 23rd in an attempt to set a new world distance record for commercial airliners.


Arriving at Cape Town on March 24, 1976 after being airborne for 17 hours 22 minutes it still had enough onboard fuel for an additional 2 hours 27 minutes flying time. At the time of departure the aircraft weighed 713,300 pounds, 50,000 pounds greater than its normal operating weight. The extra weight was due to fuel for this record flight which was carried in rubber-nylon fuel bladders secured on the lower deck. Boeing's Chairman Mr T. A. Wilson was an invited guest on this flight that succeeded in breaking the existing record by 1,498 miles.


Named 'Matroosberg' it entered service on May 01, 1976 on the Johannesburg - Athens - Lisbon - Rome route. On April 02 1977 it operated a non- stop London - Cape Town service in 13 hours 10 minutes under the command of Captain G. van Renen.

It was rolled out at Johannesburg in full Luxair livery for publicity purposes on October 22, 1980 marked as 'LX-LTM'. Following the publicity photo shoot it was rolled back into the hangar where the Luxair titles were removed. It departed Johannesburg Airport as Luxair Flight 184 in their basic livery on October 29, 1980 on a short-term wet-lease.


It was returned to South African at the end of this lease on January 01, 1981. It reacquired SAA titles in April 1981 but retained the Luxair cheat line. It was repainted into the old South African livery by September 1981. To mark SAA's 50th Anniversary the aircraft acquired a special sticker at the front of the aircraft in June 1984.


It was leased to Air Mauritius in that airline's full livery on April 01, 1987. Entered onto the Mauritius Aircraft Register as 3B- NAJ the aircraft was named 'Chateau Mon Plaisir'. Returned to S.A.A. on May 31, 1994 it was reregistered as ZS-SPA.


On January 23, 1995 it was rolled into the hangar at Johannesburg for painting into Alliance livery in preparation for its next lease. It was officially wet-leased to Alliance on May 01, 1995 and operated its first revenue service to London on July 03, 1995. By October 31, 1997 this aircraft had flown some 63,325 hours with 13,090 cycles. Alliance changed its name to Alliance Air on February 01, 1998 and with it came a new tail logo. The lease was terminated on January 01, 2000 with the aircraft being placed in temporary storage at Johannesburg. It was repainted into the new South African livery by April 2000 and returned to service.


However it was not long before it was withdrawn from use and stored at Johannesburg which occurred on April 01, 2002. By September 2002 the engines had been removed along with other major parts. It was finally scrapped over October 17 - 18, 2002 having flown a total of 74,410 hours with 15,327 cycles.

 


 

ZS-SPA. South African Airways - in the original livery at London Airport, April 1977.

ZS-SPA. South African Airways - in the original livery at Rand Airport, March 1979.

ZS-SPA. Luxair - in the basic livery at Zurich Airport, November 1980.
ZS-SPA. South African Airways - in the basic Luxair livery at Zurich Airport, July 1981.
ZS-SPA. SAL Suid Afrikaanse Lugdiens - in the revised livery at Johannesburg Airport, June 1983.
ZS-SPA. SAL Suid Afrikaanse Lugdiens - in the revised livery at Johannesburg Airport, December 1985.

3B-NAJ. Air Mauritius - in the standard livery at Zurich Airport, April 1987.

3B-NAJ. Air Mauritius - in the standard at an unknown airport, September 1987.

3B-NAJ. Air Mauritius - in the standard at Zurich Airport, July 1989.
3B-NAJ. Air Mauritius - in the standard at Munich Airport, May 1994.

ZS-SPA Alliance - in the original livery at Johannesburg Airport, April 1995.

ZS-SPA Alliance - in the original livery at Johannesburg Airport, September 1997.

ZS-SPA Alliance - in the original livery at London Airport, September 1997.

ZS-SPA Alliance - in the original livery at Johannesburg Airport, October 1997.
ZS-SPA Alliance Air - in the revised livery at Johannesburg Airport, February 1998.
ZS-SPA. South African - in the final livery at Zurich Airport, March 2000.
ZS-SPA. South African - in the final livery at Johannesburg Airport, April 2000.