Boeing 747 G-BDXJ

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G-BDXJ is the registration of a Boeing 747-236B[1] aircraft purchased by British Airways in 1980. After retirement it found a new life as a film prop, and has been preserved at Dunsfold Aerodrome since 2005. It is one of three 747s at Dunsfold, having been joined by two Boeing 747-400s, G-CIVW and G-BNLY, both previously operated by British Airways since December 2020.[2][3]

G-BDXJ at Dunsfold in 2009, wearing the B-52-style engine pods and external tanks it wore during its appearance in Casino Royale
Other name(s) City of Birmingham (1980–2002)
Type Boeing 747-200
Manufacturer Boeing Aircraft Company
Registration G-BDXJ
First flight 26 March 1980[citation needed]
Owners and operators British Airways (1980–2002)
European Aviation Air Charter (2002–2004)
Air Atlanta Europe (2004–2005)
Aces High (2005–)
Status Retired
Preserved at Dunsfold Aerodrome

Aircraft historyEdit

G-BDXJ is the 440th Boeing 747 and first flew on 19 March 1979. Named City of Birmingham, it was delivered to British Airways, which operated it for 22 years. In March 2002, it was sold to operator European Aviation Air Charter which used it for holiday charters and ad-hoc flights as well as leasing it out for Hajj flights in 2003 and 2004. The company ceased 747 operations at the end of 2004 and the aircraft was sold to Air Atlanta Europe, which used it for charter flights until it was retired in 2005. Its last flight was on 25 May 2005, from London Gatwick Airport to nearby Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, England. The aircraft was bought by Aces High Limited, a company specialising in supplying aircraft for television and film work.

Notable film and TV appearancesEdit

Dunsfold Aerodrome from the air, with G-BDXJ visible on the disused Runway 15/33

After retirement, it was modified to be used as a prop in the James Bond movie Casino Royale[4] and was painted with a fictional Hollywood registration, N88892, used also on a Boeing 727 in the movie Hero.[5] In the movie, it appears as the "Skyfleet S570" a fictional prototype aeroplane which terrorists attempt to destroy. Among the modifications were the removal of the outer engine pods, and the modification of the inner engine pods to twin-engine nacelles reminiscent of the engine installations of the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress on each of the inner engine pylons, the outer engines replaced with mock-up external fuel tanks, also reminiscent of those used on the B-52.

The plane is featured in the background for British motoring show Top Gear, which is filmed in a hangar-turned-studio at Dunsfold. The plane is also featured in some of the show's challenges as background. It did feature most notably[citation needed] in one where the show's hosts were testing farm tractors and then-host Jeremy Clarkson pulled the modified 747 with his JCB farm tractor along the runway as part of a challenge.[citation needed]

It was featured as part of a challenge in the Series 10 final of Scrapheap Challenge, where teams had to construct vehicles capable of towing the aircraft.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "G-BDXJ Air Atlanta Europe Boeing 747-236B - cn 21831 / ln 440 -". Retrieved 6 September 2008.
  2. ^ Bradley, William (22 October 2020). "As it happened - Iconic aircraft 'Queen of the Skies' heads to Surrey". SurreyLive. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  3. ^ Kaminski-Morrow2020-10-22T14:00:00+01:00, David. "Ex-British Airways 747-400 to be preserved as UK film set". Flight Global. Retrieved 23 October 2020.
  4. ^ [1],
  5. ^ Boeing 727 with fictional registration N88892,

External linksEdit