A lookback at an era of Philippine Airlines quad jet-engine aircraft

July 10, 2019 was the final curtain call of an era in Philippine Airlines, the era of the quad-jet engine aircraft in the airline's fleet. They flew their Airbus A340-300 with registry RP-C3441 to Orlando before being transferred to its new owner, Plus Ultra Lineas Aereas of Spain. The final departure at 1:15pm marks the end of an age when PAL had aircraft which utilizes 4 jet engines in its fleet. Lets now do a lookback on the era of the PAL "quad-jet"


PAL has been using 4-jet engine aircraft, otherwise known as the "quad jets" since 1962 before having its present fleet of twin-jet engine aircraft all the way in its fleet.

The early years of the PAL 'quads'

Philippine Airlines very first Douglas DC-8-53 named "Sampaguita" at Amsterdam Schiphol. Photo credits: Aviation by Aviator

PAL entered the jet age with its very first Douglas DC-8-53 which was leased from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The very first DC-8 was named "Sampaguita" that flew long range routes. Making use of 4 Pratt & Whitney JT3D-3B engines, the DC-8-53 had a range of 10,843km, in which PAL used for its transpacific and European flights. Its first transpacific flight was on June 20, 1952.

Douglas DC-8-63. Photo credits:
In 1972, PAL decided to increase its capacity for transpacific flights, hence, the airline took in two DC-8-63 which is longer by 11.7 meters than the DC-8-53. Using the same engines as the 50 series, the 63 series had a range of 7,400km due to its higher capacity. PAL started phasing out DC-8s after the order of the mighty Boeing 747-200 in 1979.

The age of the 'jumbo'

In 1979, Philippine Airlines took delivery of its very first Boeing 747-200B otherwise known as the "Jumbo Jet". This replaced the DC-10s in the transpacific routes. PAL took in 17 of these 747-200 series. What made this aircraft iconic was the introduction of the "Skybeds". These are not business class seats that can lie flat, but are literally beds at the upper deck section of the 747, exclusive only to first class passengers.

PAL Boeing 747-200B. Photo: Wiki Commons

The 747-200s equipped with the Skybeds were assigned on flights to the United States and Europe. This feature revolutionized long-haul air travel which all gave birth to the lie-flat / full-flat seats we see today. The 747-200B can fly non-stop from Manila to the United States west coast area.


In November 1993, Philippine Airlines took delivery of its Boeing 747-400 with then Philippines President Fidel V. Ramos from Seattle, Washington, to Subic International Airport. This aircraft became the flagship of PAL for many years. PAL had 5 of these aircraft, 4 747-400 and 1 747-400M, which is known as a "combi" due to its flexibility to be converted into a full freighter if needed. The last 747-400 flight was September 1, 2014 which was eventually replaced by the world's largest twin-engine aircraft, the Boeing 777-300ER.

Modernization to the end of the 'quads'

It was in 1996 when Philippine Airlines embarked on a modernization program where they purchased 33 new aircraft and one of them was the Airbus A340. The airline took in two types at first, the A340-300 and A340-200 where the latter was leased from Cathay Pacific. After the financial crisis which caused PAL to temporarily shut down and resume operations later on, they stayed with 4 Airbus A340-300s. Later on, PAL acquired 6 more A340s formerly owned by Iberia Airlines. The A340 was Airbus's very first quad-jet aircraft. It shares the same frame as the twin-engine Airbus A330.


In 2019, all Philippine Airlines A340s were replaced by the twin-engine more modern and fuel efficient Airbus A350-900. The last A340 to remain in the fleet was RP-C3441 which was used only as a spare aircraft until its final retirement. Last July 10, C3441 took off to Orlando, USA for its transfer to a new owner, bringing to end an era of quad jets in PAL's storybook.

Today, Philippine Airlines makes use of twin-engine aircraft all the way which are the Boeing 777-300ER, Airbus A350-900, Airbus A330-300, Airbus A321NEO, Airbus A321CEO, and Airbus A320.

Thank you for the memories 'quads'!

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  1. The aircraft was parked up NAIA when I passed it after my flight from LHR 24th July 2019

  2. That's the A340 RP-C3441 I'm referring to


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