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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 28 May 2018

For sale in the UAE: the top deck of a Boeing 747 

The piece of a former Qantas jumbo could be converted into offices, a restaurant, cinema - or even living accommodation for an aviation enthusiast

A 747 plane which is on sale in Ras Al Khaimah. Courtesy Falcon Aircraft Recycling
A 747 plane which is on sale in Ras Al Khaimah. Courtesy Falcon Aircraft Recycling

If you've ever wanted to own a piece of aviation history, now's your chance.

An aircraft recycling firm in Ras Al Khaimah is selling the top deck of a former Qantas Boeing 747.

With a price tag of about $200,000 (Dh734,600) it includes the original flight deck, business class section which can seat about 40 people, two toilets and a complete galley. A chunk of the main cabin is also attached making the upper deck accessible by a staircase. This could function as a storage facility or garage for about a dozen cars.

The 15-tonne plane segment can be transported by road and would be suitable for conversion to offices, a restaurant, a bar, cinema or even living accommodation for an aviation enthusiast.

Howard Tonks is director of Falcon Aircraft Recycling.

“The imagination goes wild when you see it,” he said.

“The upper deck is original and untouched from when it was flying for Qantas. It’s got a complete flight deck and is the exact same as when the captain got off the airplane five years ago. For an ex-aviator or aviation enthusiast, to sit in there would be the thrill of a lifetime.”

The inside of the 747 plane on sale in Ras Al Khaimah. Courtesy Falcon Aircraft Recycling
The inside of the 747 plane on sale in Ras Al Khaimah. Courtesy Falcon Aircraft Recycling

The top section is known as a “mega-deck” as it was longer than other 747 top decks. It comes from a 300 model of the jumbo jet, a type which entered service at the beginning of the 1980s.

It first flew with Qantas under serial number VH-EBV in 1985 and finished life with the UAE’s Sayegh Group as XT-DMA.

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Falcon bought the plane in 2016 and it was dismantled and recycled at the company’s facility in Ras Al Khaimah last year. During the dismantling process, the upper deck was removed using power saws.

Now one of the most unique second-hand items on sale anywhere in the world is sitting on the apron of RAK airport waiting for its next chapter.

“The instrumentation and equipment on the flight deck has all been discreetly mutilated so that nothing could ever be fitted to a live aircraft. But the authenticity and appearance is unchanged,” said Mr Tonks. “It was just too good to turn into coke cans.”

The pilot cabin of a 747 plane on sale in Ras Al Khaimah. Courtesy Falcon Aircraft Recycling
The pilot cabin of a 747 plane on sale in Ras Al Khaimah. Courtesy Falcon Aircraft Recycling

Falcon have been operating at Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah airports since 2012 where dozens of mostly Soviet-era aircraft such as Antonovs and Ilyushins have been abandoned. These aircraft were primarily used by people who had contracts in conflict zones such as Afghanistan and Iraq but when the work ran out, the planes were parked and never collected.

Ten planes have been decommissioned at Fujairah since Falcon started operating in 2012 and all have been acquired by the company independently.

Using an old plane for display or accommodation is not uncommon. At Sweden's Arlanda Airport, a 747 has been converted into a hostel, while in 2016 Irish businessman David McGowan transported a Boeing 767 to Co Sligo. The plane is set to be part of an as yet unopened glamping experience.

Known as the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747 entered service in 1970.

"It’s only now that it’s giving way," said Mr Tonks. "it stretched the imagination of airlines and what they can do."

Many airlines have phased out the planes in favour of more efficient aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. But the jumbo is still used widely for air freighter transport, while Lufthansa and British Airways still use some 747s for passenger services.

“The 300 with extended decks are rare. It’s the last of an era,” said Mr Tonks.

“It’s highly unlikely that another will ever be dismantled in the UAE.”