Atlas Receives First of Four New Boeing 747-8 Freighters expected this year

Atlas Air Worldwide launched 30 years ago with a single 747. Today, the company is the largest operator of 747s in the world, with 53 of the iconic aircraft known as the “Queen of the Skies.”

Atlas marks its significant growth over thirty years and into the future with the expansion of its fleet with four new Boeing 747s-8 Freighters.

The plane’s 53-year history has been an illustrious one, filled with high-profile missions and assignments:

  • After the NASA space shuttle landed back on Earth following missions to space, it was the 747 that retrieved it from its landing spot and carried it on its back to return it to John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
  • Since 1990, customized versions have operated as the United States Presidents’ Air Force One.
  • The 747 YAL-1 was used as a laser test bed designed to shoot down missiles in flight.
  • A 747 nicknamed “Cosmic Girl” is the platform used by Virgin Orbit to launch satellites into space.
  • Four 747s were modified into “Dreamlifters” to transport massive sections of 787s for assembly around the world. Atlas operates all four.

There’s good reason the 747 has been called upon for these important tasks and many more. As the first airplane ever to be described as a “jumbo jet,” it has a cargo capacity of more than 300,000 lbs. and a take-off weight of close to 1 million lbs., making it the largest commercially built cargo plane in the world.

It’s also the only aircraft equipped with a nose door, which lifts the front nose cone to allow for quick loading and off-loading of oversized cargo. This feature, along with its loaded long-haul capability of around 4,900 miles, is one of its most valuable features for Atlas’s cargo customers.

The unique nose door accounts for the 747’s signature hump, which houses the upper-deck cockpit and premium cabin seats.


The first of four set to be delivered to Atlas Air.