The world's first Boeing 777 took to the air for the last time today, headed to its retirement home at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Arizona. Donated by Boeing and Cathay Pacific Airlines, the jetliner designated line number WA001 and registered as B-HNL left Hong Kong Airport after 24 years of service and will now join 350 other historic aircraft on public display.

The Boeing 777 is billed as the world's most successful twin-engine, twin aisle airplane and first flew on June 12, 1994. WA001 started life as a test aircraft, but was transferred to the Cathay Pacific fleet in 2000, where it was flown on regular passenger service until its retirement.

Cathay Pacific currently operates one of the world's largest 777 fleets. It was also one of a few airlines that participated in the aircraft's design phase with requests for a 747-like cross section, a "glass cockpit," and a fly-by-wire system.

When it was introduced, the 777 was Boeing's first new airliner in a decade and the first to be completely designed using computer-aided design (CAD). It was also the first to be built without a full-scale mock-up being constructed for testing. With a wingspan of 200 ft (61 m) and a length of 209 ft (64 m), it was larger than all other twinjet or trijet airplanes of the time, though smaller than the four-engine 747. It has a range of up to 8,270 m (13,309 km) at 615 mph (990 km/h) and can carry up to 440 passengers.

"Cathay Pacific has been instrumental in the tremendous success of the 777 program," says Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Kevin McAllister. "The airline contributed greatly to the airplane's original design and has been one of its biggest ambassadors ever since. And now they are a launch customer for our new 777X airplane. We are thrilled to partner with Cathay on this donation to the museum as a way to share the remarkable story of the Boeing 777 for years come."

Source: Boeing