BY: Jake Hardman, Simpleflying.com
Nigerian carrier Max Air recently sent its oldest Boeing 747-400 to storage in the US. Its destination was Pinal Airpark (MZJ) in Marana, Arizona. The desert facility is well known as something of an aircraft [graveyard], meaning that the 747’s journey there may have been its last. That being said, it has previously spent time there before returning to Nigeria. Let’s explore the plane’s story.
Off to the desert
As reported by French-language news site Newsaero, which specialises in matters concerning African aviation, the oldest of Max Air’s three remaining Boeing 747-400s departed the carrier’s Kano base last week. A closer look at data from FlightRadar24.com shows that its journey to Arizona was a complex, multi-leg affair.
This odyssey began on March 29th, when it made the short hop from Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (KAN) to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (ABV) in Abuja. It landed there at 17:56 local time, using the flight number VM610. It would retain this designation for the entirety of its trip to the American desert.
The 747’s next leg was much longer than the domestic jaunt with which it started its journey. This took place on March 30th, with the quadjet leaving Abuja at 08:05. After 10 hours and 41 minutes in the air, it touched down at Bangor International (BGR) in the US state of Maine at 13:46, where it stayed overnight.
The aircraft in question
On March 31st, the aircraft completed its lengthy journey, with a cross-country hop lasting five hours and eight minutes that took it to Marana. Having left Bangor at 12:55, it reached Pinal Airpark at 15:03. Interestingly, looking at data from FlightRadar24, we can see that this aircraft, 5N-DBK, has been there before.
Indeed, it appears to have also spent a stint in the desert lasting from November 2019 to April 2020. As such, it will be interesting to see what becomes of the aircraft. Looking at its history, data from ch-aviation.com shows that it is 25 years old, having first flown and been delivered to Korean Air back in November 1996.
The aircraft spent almost 20 years with the airline as HL7472 before leaving in February 2016. During this time, it amassed an impressive 83,049 hours across 12,700 cycles, giving an average stage length of six hours and 32 minutes. After a five-month hiatus, it joined Max Air in July 2016. The Nigerian carrier operated it with a high-density configuration of 548 economy and 12 business class seats.
Max Air’s other 747s
As alluded to earlier, 5N-DBK is one of three Boeing 747-400s on the books at Max Air. One of the other two, registered as 5N-ADM, is also reportedly in storage in Marana. It is considerably younger than its recently departed counterpart, having entered service with United Airlines as N128UA back in May 2000
Max Air’s third and final Boeing 747-400 )5N-HMM) actually appears to have been active as recently as last month, when data from Flightradar24 shows it was flying from Kano to destinations including Dakar and Niamey. This aircraft entered service with Korean Air back in December 1998 as HL7404.