First Qantas Boeing 707 Jet Arrives in Australia

Sydney, 16 December 2006

Qantas Chairman Margaret Jackson AC and the Minister for Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, this morning welcomed the airline’s first jet aircraft back to Australia, more than 47 years after it first joined the Qantas fleet.

The historic Boeing 707-138B touched down in Sydney after a 31,500-km, eight-day journey from Southend in London, via Ireland, the Canary Islands, Bermuda, the United States and Fiji.

Senator Campbell said the Australian Government was a proud $1 million partner in the momentous endeavour to restore and return home the aircraft that first took Australia into the jet age.

"This aircraft, known as City of Canberra, is a national heritage icon which will now go on permanent display to the public," he said.

"The jet’s touchdown today is testament to the tenacity and expertise of the many volunteer engineers and pilots who undertook months of exacting work in very challenging conditions in the open weather in London to ensure this aircraft was restored to its former glory.

"This massive volunteer effort totalled more than 15,000 hours – a feat believed to be unmatched in aviation history.

"The Australian Government is proud to have worked with the Qantas Foundation Memorial and other stakeholders to save this historic aircraft."

Ms Jackson declared that this was a day of historic significance.

"This B707 was the first jet aircraft in the Qantas fleet, the first jet to arrive in Australia, the first Boeing jet aircraft sold outside of the United States and the first jet to fly around the world. It is a tangible piece of our country’s incredible aviation history," Ms Jackson said.

"The program to restore the B707 began more than two years ago. The B707 was the landmark aircraft of its age and - modified to Qantas specifications - a marvel of engineering and design excellence. For the restoration, experts came out of retirement, countless rare spare parts were sourced from all corners of the globe and enthusiasts worldwide keenly followed the project," Ms Jackson said.

"The City of Canberra restoration has been a labor of love by volunteers who cherish Qantas and aviation history."

While the Qantas Founders Museum will receive the first B707, Qantas Ambassador John Travolta owns and pilots the last Qantas 707 in the fleet - known as VH-EBM - which is painted in the Qantas livery of the 1960s.

Ms Jackson paid personal tribute to all the volunteers involved in the project.

"I want to thank and congratulate all those who have given their time and their talent to this fantastic endeavour," said Ms Jackson. "You have given a great gift to Australia, and to aviation history."

With the assistance of the Australian Government and its $1 million funding, Boeing Australia and Shell, this historic aircraft will become a permanent exhibit at the Qantas Founders Museum at Longreach in Western Queensland in the New Year.

The crew flying the 707-138 to Australia today consisted of Qantas Captain Murray Warfield, First Officer Roger Walter, Second Officer Brett Phoebe, Flight Engineers Joe Plemenuk and Harry Hermans and Qantas Flight Attendant Karen Glass.

Issued by Qantas Corporate Communication (3513)