Air China added to its existing 747-2J6 and SP fleet when it took delivery of its first 747-4J6 in October 1989 (B-2456). The fleet grew gradually during the 1990s and eventually replaced the 747SPs when it peaked at fourteen aircraft in 2000 consisting of B-2443, 45, 47, 56, 58, 60, 64 and 66-72. The last aircraft B-2472 was delivered in May 2000 and operates for the Chinese government in VIP configuration.
By 2001 Air China and other Asian airlines was suffering from over-capacity and two of its 747-400s were sold back to Boeing. The aircraft were the 1992 build B-2464 and B-2466.
B-2464 was one of four aircraft chosen by Boeing for conversion to Boeing Dreamlifters though she was in storage for five years beforehand. She was the first 747 LCF rolled out in August 2006. Following testing she entered service in 2007 and has been operated by Evergreen International and Atlas Air Cargo as N747BC since, transporting dreamliner component parts in support of the 787 programme. B-2466 meanwhile was converted into a private aircraft for the Kingdom Holding of Saudi Arabia. She was registered HZ-WBT7 in July 2005.
The rest of the fleet remained intact until several aircraft (B-2456, 58 and 60) were converted to freighters in 2009. The modification work on the three Combi airplanes took place at Taikoo Aircraft Engineering (TAECO) in Xiamen, China and they added to the airline's already impressive 747 freighter fleet of 3 747-400Fs, 2 leased 747-400Fs and 3 converted 747-200Fs.
The remainder of the fleet has gradually been withdrawn as 777-300s and 747-8s arrive until by January 2015 only four remain active including B-2443 which was originally delivered in February 1993.
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: