Alongside the 747SP, the 747-300 was one of the rarer variants of the Jumbo Jet and occupied a strange space in the aircraft’s history.
In the 1970s Boeing began extending the upper decks of some 747-100 and -200 aircraft to offer airlines more passenger capacity. They were dubbed Stretched Upper Deck, or SUD, variants.
However, from 1980 a dedicated variant known as the -300 offered the larger upper deck as well as some other improvements over older variants.
Yet Boeing would soon start to offer the 747-400 which offered the same capacity but with a wave of other benefits and improvements, leaving the -300 as a bit of an orphan. Only 81 were built (21 of which were combi passenger-cargo versions).
Some major airlines operated the 747-300 originally, but this dwindled and now only one example is thought to be in passenger service.
So where can you see a 747-300 today?
The last known passenger examples of the 747-300 are in Iran, operated by Mahan Air. While they seem to pop up in various places around the country and neighbouring countries, they don’t seem to operate on any schedules. So it’s a bit of a risk trying to fly it, especially with the current tensions between Iran and the West.
There are also thought to be various stored examples in Tehran.
One of the last operators of the 747-300 was Orient Thai Airlines, and former examples from its fleet include HS-UTL which is in a derelict state at Phitsanulok Airport.
Meanwhile HS-UTW lies withdrawn from use at Bangkok Don Mueang airport, and HS-UTV is at the U-Tapao Airport maintenance base.
US Scrap Yards
Inevitably, many retired 747-300s ended up in scrapyards in Arizona and California. Aircraft are known to have been stored in Marana, AZ, Phoenix Goodyear, AZ, Victorville, CA and Mojave, CA, where you may still see their languishing hulks awaiting the scrapman.
While national carrier Saudia does not have any 747-300s active in its fleet any more, there are some active examples operated by the airline in VIP configuration for the government. One is HZ-HM1A.
Another is HZ-AIS in the city of Abha. This aircraft was dismantled and transported by road to a hilltop location, where the intention was to operate it as a restaurant. It has not yet opened, but is still visible.
Qantas was a big operator of the 747-300. One of its former fleet is VH-EBU and is now stored at Melbourne Avalon Airport and used as a training airframe and film prop. This once wore the famous Nalanji Dreaming livery.
A short distance from Surabaya Airport is a large hangar where two Boeing 737s and 747-300 HS-VAN are stored/preserved.
The former Pakistan International Airlines fleet of 747-300s may still be stored in the country. One example, AP-BFV, has been preserved as a training airframe at Karachi International.
Two examples of the 747-300 are currently stored at Bruntingthorpe Airfield in Leicestershire, UK (alongside a 747-200 and various L1011 TriStars). The aircraft are former Transaero examples VP-BGX and VP-BGY.
Sadly the future of the aircraft at this airfield is uncertain following sale to new, non-aviation owners.
Minsk is home to the last 747-300 built, and one of the other active examples. Operated by Transaviaexport Airlines as a freighter, EW-465TQ was built in 1990 and previously flew for SABENA, Atlas Air and Air Atlanta Icelandic.
It flies on contract work, so it could crop up anywhere. Recent flights have seen it in Moscow, Turkey, India and Bosnia.
Flying Firsts is a guide to the first flights of hundreds of airlines and individual variants from the 1930s to the present day. It includes the 747-300.
Each aircraft is beautifully illustrated with colour photographs, a history of the type, and various facts and statistics.