Air Force One, a Boeing 747, flying over Mount Rushmore in February 2001.
Will Israel allow Air Force One to land at Ben Gurion Airport?
Source – U.S. Air Force File Photo., Public Domain
Israel will ban Boeing 747 and similar aircraft with four engines as of March 31, 2023, to reduce noise and air pollution.
The Director General of the Israel Airports Authority (IAA), Hagai Topolansky, confirmed the measure on Sunday, stating:
“The increase in passenger and aircraft traffic at Ben Gurion Airport is an environmental challenge. I intend to lead the Airports Authority and Ben Gurion Airport not only in the fields of digitization but also to lead the environment and sustainability in the world of aviation, stopping the landing of 4-engine planes at Ben Gurion Airport is one step and the first step in a broader plan that is currently being formulated.”
According to Reuters, the directive is mainly for cargo aircraft since most, it not all, carriers have stopped using 747 and other four-engine planes on routes to Israel.
However, as part of its planning, the IAA has also told airlines they would not be able to land large airplanes at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv as of the 2023 summer season.
Flag carrier El Al has already retired its fleet of 747s and uses twin-engine Boeing 777 and 787 planes on long-haul routes. Competitors also use those Boeing planes or comparable Airbus ones to Ben Gurion, although the 747s are still used by some for cargo.
It will be interesting to see how other carriers will react to the ban in the coming months,
Will the ban have the desired effect?
The IAA claims that they are introducing the ban as a result of environmental, noise, and sustainability concerns. But, aircraft with four engines are not always less environmentally friendly than their twin-engined counterparts.
For example, thanks to its large passenger capacity, the Airbus A380 has a lower fuel burn per passenger than many twin-engined aircraft.
Having four engines does not necessarily mean that the aircraft is noisier either – advanced technology means that the engines on modern aircraft such as the Airbus A380 can be quieter than those on older, twin-engined aircraft.
The only commercial airliner with 4 engines that is in production today is the Boeing 747. Other 4 engine aircraft that can be seen are the Airbus A340 and the double decker Airbus A380.
The largest operators of passenger 747s are Lufthansa, Korean Air, and Air China. 1,555 Boeing 747s have been built in the last 50 years and 455 remain in use today.
As of August 2020 there are only 12 outstanding orders for the 747-8 and production will end when those are delivered in the next few years.