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Boeing delivers its 1,400th 747

The venerable jumbo jet hits another milestone even as Boeing starts to get ready for the 2010 launch of the 747-800.

Boeing delivered its 1,400th 747 Thursday to GE Commecial Aviation Services.

I got an e-mail Friday morning from my contact at Boeing alerting me to the fact that the aerospace giant delivered its 1,400th 747 Thursday.

The lucky recipient of the 747-400 freighter was GE Commercial Aviation Services, which plans to lease the jet to AirBridgeCargo Airlines, a Boeing press release says.

What really struck me about the news is that there are only 1,400 747s. It seems to me that every time I fly through Los Angeles, I see something like a couple hundred of the big planes on the tarmac, half of them owned by Qantas.

Of course, that's an exaggeration, but for a world famous airplane that first launched in 1969 and that is flown by airlines all over the globe, the number just seemed small.

Then again, you try picturing 1,400 747s lined up, and I think we're halfway to the moon.

Actually, according to the release, 747s over the years have flown enough miles--42 billion nautical miles--to have made 203,000 trips to the moon.

The planes had also been used for 17 million flights through 2007 and been in the air for 89 million hours.

In 2010, Boeing will unveil its next-generation of 747, the 747-8 Intercontinental. A modern, more sleek version of the familiar plane, it is expected to be more fuel-efficient and more comfortable.

That'll be an important move for Boeing as it takes on archrival Airbus and its A380 super plane.

A big question then might be, will Boeing ever get to a second 1,400 747s? My first instinct would be to say yes, and faster than the first time. But with airlines being able to buy A380s or Boeing's own 787 Dreamliners, I start to wonder if in fact the 747 will be a less common plane over time.

I guess we'll just have to wait and see.