While commercial aviation is a very safe industry, accidents do still happen from time to time. These generally occur during takeoff or landing, the most critical stages of a flight. However, last October, two aircraft collided while undergoing maintenance in a hangar in Louisiana. One of these was a rare short-fuselage Boeing 747SP. But what has happened to this aircraft since?
What happened to the aircraft?
As Simple Flying reported last October, a Las Vegas Sands Corporation Boeing 747SP suffered major damage in a hangar collision at Chennault International Airport, Louisiana. Images that emerged on social media following the incident showed that another plane’s wing had sliced the underside of its fuselage.
Las Vegas Sands Boeing 747SP (presumably VP-BMS, built 1979) was critically damaged in a hangar collision with another aircraft while undergoing maintenance at Marana Airport, AZ, USA. The acft is likely to be a total loss. @OnAviation https://t.co/Nc5XjjFnKC pic.twitter.com/RGkEwDaBTy
— JACDEC (@JacdecNew) October 28, 2020
The other aircraft involved was reportedly a 20-year old 737 BBJ (Boeing Business Jet). This is said to have been N836BA, which Planespotters.net reports has been owned by Boeing itself since August 2006. The 747SP also lost its right wingtip, after it crashed into a pillar inside the hangar.
At the time of the collision, it was feared that the aircraft had been damaged beyond repair. These concerns do appear to have been rational, as sources such as airfleets.net are reporting that the 747SP involved has indeed since been written off. Being a very old aircraft, its days were perhaps numbered. Nonetheless, to be written off after such a collision is not how its owners, and indeed 747 fans in general, will have wanted to see its decorated career come to an end.
A long and varied service history
According to Planespotters.net, the 747SP involved, registered VQ-BMS, has had operators worldwide during a career spanning more than 40 years. Pan Am first took delivery of the aircraft in May 1979, making it over 41 years old. At this time, it was registered as N540PA, and also named China Clipper. US legacy carrier United Airlines assumed ownership of the aircraft in February 1986, re-registering it as N149UA.
Its final airline spell was a brief lease period at Tajik Air between December 1993 and August 1995. During this time, it bore the name Snow Leopard. At the end of this spell, it was re-configured for VIP use by the Brunei government, which operated it until 1998. It then came into the ownership of the Bahrain Royal Flight, where it stayed for 10 years.
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The Las Vegas Sands Corporation
May 2008 saw the aircraft’s final transfer, which took it to the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. The company’s fleet presently consists of seven Boeing 737s, as well as one each of the Airbus A340-500 and 767-300ER. Its final aircraft is another 41-year old 747SP, registered as VP-BLK. The company is a casino conglomerate, and it made the headlines in 2018 after Kim Kardashian and Kanye West flew on VQ-BMS.
Simple Flying reached out to Las Vegas Sands for a statement on the aircraft, but did not receive a response by the time of publication. We will update the story with the relevant details when the company gets back to us.