747 BBJ With 42 Hours Sent To The Desert


A virtually new Boeing 747-8 abandoned by the Saudi royal family 10 years ago is now owned by Boeing and awaiting an unknown fate in Arizona. According to the FAA registry Boeing became the owner of the aircraft, which has 42 hours on it, the day before it was flown from Basel, Switzerland, to Pinal Air Park, a desert storage site near Tucson. Once they arrive there, aircraft seldom leave intact, but Boeing hasn’t announced any plans for the plane. Speculation is that it will be parted out, which is the fate of most aircraft at Pinal. But the Saudis long ago abandoned the aircraft, simply because no one in the royal family wanted it.

The plane was ordered by Saudi crown prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for about $275 million and was being fitted with its executive interior in Basel when he died in 2011. The aircraft was never finished and none of his relatives showed any interest in it. At one point it was up for sale for $95 million but there were no takers. It sat on the ramp in Basel for 10 years before taking what might have been its final flight on April 15. The aircraft currently has a temporary certificate of registration that expires May 14.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Fairly sure it was at Basel from around 1998 — with Jet doing the interior. Do not know how and if they were paid…
    Brings home to you that you can now buy a flying A340 for €5 million or sometimes less…

  2. Would be kind of cool (from a pilot perspective) to make it a home, living in it like a giant RV. Could put solar panels on the wings, run split A/C’s for cooling. Park your car in the shade of the tail. Would be neat living on the airport. No property taxes. Just ramp rent.

    Can’t go anywhere in it – but it seems most RV’s sit in driveways anyway.

    I wonder if they’ll take a dollar for it? They can take the engines and avionics.

  3. Even in Saudi Arabia, land of profligacy for the annointed, no one wanted it. !

    Why, Russian oligarchs want their excessive yachts, have to keep up with the Ivans and Vladimirs. 😉

    But a 747-400 should be useable for cargo?

  4. It’s always been that crazy with oil. But now it seems there are billionaires everywhere lined up to pay $55m each for a ride to space. This isn’t capitalism. It’s obscene!

    • On what basis do you consider yourself qualified to criticize others’ expenditures of their own money? Really.