Bear necessities

Talk about a special delivery. A 747-400 Freighter is used to carrying all kinds of cargo. But what a great moment it was to see the Singapore Airlines Cargo airplane transport two giant pandas to their new home.


Kai Kai and Jia Jia make their first appearance at Changi Airport in Singapore after a flight from Chengdu, China. A Singapore Airlines Cargo 747-400 Freighter was specifically chosen for the giant pandas’ transport because of its nose-door loading capability. (Singapore Airlines photo)

Kai Kai, a five-year-old male, and Jia Jia, a four-year-old female, recently made the trip from Sichuan, China, to their home at Singapore’s new River Safari.


The 4.5-hour flight, operated by Singapore Airlines Cargo, covered nearly 2,000 nautical miles. And the pandas traveled in style inside custom-built crates that provided plenty of ventilation and personal space. A team of “flight attendants” — panda experts and veterinarians from China and Singapore — flew with the special passengers and served up bamboo, fruit and water.


The unique nose door of a Boeing 747-400 Freighter opens to reveal precious cargo. (Singapore Airlines photo)

Kai Kai and Jia Jia, whose names mean “victorious” and “beauty,” respectively, will live in Singapore for 10 years under a joint program between the China Wildlife Conservation Association and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, the parent company of River Safari. The public will be able to visit Kai Kai and Jia Jia at the giant panda exhibit beginning in December.

Boeing Fleet Technical Management provides all engineering and technical services with an on-site team for Singapore Cargo’s fleet of 747s. Congrats to everyone involved in the “bear” necessities of this effort.


The freighter’s interior was kept between 64 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit to provide natural habitat comfort. (Singapore Airlines photo)

Comments (5)

Norman (Long Beach, CA):

You know you have something spacial when your aircraft is decked out for the special occasion of transporting a panda or two.

Richard M (New South Wales):

The 747 is famous for transporting VIPs.

Now more VIPs fly 747....

.... Very Important Pandas !


Michael (Renton, WA):

They should have called it the Panda Express!

Thomas Horstmann, Jr. (Portland, Oregon):

Thanks Randy, that is a heart warming and interesting story. Nothing like traveling in comfort aboard the 747-400.

Bruce Sebring (Gardner, KS):

Other Boeing and Boeing Legacy Company aircraft have also been used to move giant pandas, and have had special markings applied to commemorate the event. Giant pandas were brought to Atlanta on a UPS Boeing 767. FedEx has used specially marked MD-10 and 777F aircraft to transport these rare and special bears on five different occasions. Two MD-10 flights brought pandas from China to Washington DC and later to Memphis. Three 777F flights have carried pandas in first class comfort from Atlanta & Washington DC to China; From China to Scotland; and finally from China to France. FedEx will also be transporting the pandas from China to Toronto early next year.

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