Boeing 747

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is an old revision of this page, as edited by LrdChaos (talk | contribs) at 13:44, 7 September 2006 (Revert to revision 74221396 dated 2006-09-06 22:40:04 by Bangabalunga using popups). The present address (URL) is a permanent link to this revision, which may differ significantly from the current revision.

Template:Infobox Aircraft

The Boeing 747, commonly called a Jumbo Jet, is one of the most recognizable of all jet airliners and is the largest airliner currently in service. First flown commercially in 1970, it held the size record for more than 35 years until surpassed by the Airbus A380 (due to enter service in early 2007). The Soviet-built Antonov An-225 cargo transport remains the world's largest aircraft in service, while the Spruce Goose had a larger wing-span.[1]

The four-engine 747, produced by Boeing's Commercial Airplane division, uses a two-deck configuration. A typical three-class layout accommodates 416 passengers, while a two-class layout accommodates a maximum of 524 passengers. The hump created by the upper deck has made the 747 a highly recognizable icon of air travel. By February 2006, a total of 1430 aircraft have been built or ordered in various 747 configurations, making it a very profitable product for Boeing. [2]

The 747-400, the only series currently in production, flies at high-subsonic speeds of mach 0.85 ( 567 mph or 913 km/h), and features intercontinental range (Template:Nautical mile).[3] In some configurations this is sufficient to fly non-stop from New York to Hong Kong — a third of the way around the globe. In 1989, a Qantas 747-400 flew non-stop from London to Sydney, a distance of 11185 miles (Template:MileToKilometre kilometres) in 20 hours and 9 minutes, although this was a delivery flight with no passengers or freight aboard.[4]



The prototype 747, City of Everett, at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.

The 747 was born from the explosion of air travel in the 1960s. The era of commercial jet transportation, led by the enormous popularity of the Boeing 707, had revolutionized long distance travel and made possible the concept of the "global village." Boeing had already developed a study for a very large fixed-wing aircraft while bidding on a US military contract for a huge cargo plane.[5] Boeing lost the contract to Lockheed's C-5 Galaxy but came under pressure from its most loyal airline customer, Pan Am, to develop a giant passenger plane that would be over twice the size of the 707. In 1966 Boeing proposed a preliminary configuration for the airliner, to be called the 747. Pan Am ordered 25 of the initial 100 series for US$550 million, becoming its launch customer.[6][7] The original design was a full-length double-decker fuselage. Issues with evacuation routes caused this idea to be scrapped in favor of a wide-body design.[8]

At the time, it was widely thought that the 747 would be replaced in the future with an SST (supersonic transport) design. In a shrewd move, Boeing designed the 747 so that it could easily be adapted to carry freight. Boeing knew that if and when sales of the passenger version dried up (see below regarding the future sales of the 747), the plane could remain in production as a cargo transport. The cockpit was moved to a shortened upper deck so that a nose cone loading door could be included, thus creating the 747's distinctive "bulge". The supersonic transports, including the Concorde and Boeing's never-produced 2707, were not widely adopted, such planes being difficult to operate profitably at a time when fuel prices were soaring, and also there were difficulties of operating such aircraft due to regulations regarding flying supersonic over land.[9]

Cargolux 747-400F with the nose cone loading door open

The 747 was expected to become obsolete after sales of 400 units. But the 747 outlived many of its critics' expectations and production passed the 1,000 mark in 1993. The expected slow-down in sales of the passenger version in favour of the freighter model has only been realized in the early 2000s, around 2 decades later than expected. The development of the 747 was a huge undertaking - Boeing did not have a facility large enough to assemble the giant aircraft, so the company built an all-new assembly building near Everett, Washington. The factory is the largest building by volume ever built,[5] on over 780 acres of land.[6]

Pratt and Whitney developed a massive high-bypass turbofan engine, the JT9D, which was initially used exclusively with the 747. Four of these engines mounted in pods below the wings power the 747. To appease concerns about the safety and flyability of such a massive aircraft, the 747 was designed with four backup hydraulic systems, split control surfaces, redundant main landing gear, multiple structural redundancy, and sophisticated flaps that allowed it to use standard-length runways. The wing was swept back at an unusually high angle of 37.5 degrees, and it was chosen in order to minimize the wing span, thus allowing the 747 to use existing hangars.[8][10]

During the flight certification period, Boeing built an unusual training device known as "Waddell's Wagon" (named after the 747 test pilot, Jack Waddell) which consisted of a mock-up cockpit mounted on the roof of a truck. It was intended to train pilots on how to taxi the plane from the high upper deck position.[5]

File:747 flight attendants.jpg
Uniformed flight attendants representing each of the 747's initial 26 airline customers.

Boeing had promised to deliver the 747 to Pan Am by 1970, meaning that it had less than four years to develop, build and test the aircraft. Work progressed at such a breakneck pace that all those who worked on the development of the 747 were given the nickname "The Incredibles". [5]The massive cost of developing the 747 and building the Everett factory meant that Boeing had to borrow, and gambled its very existence on the 747's success; had the project failed, it would have taken the company along with it.[7] Initial problems with the JT9D's development forced Boeing to delay deliveries up to year, and as a result up to 30 planes at one time were left stranded at the Everett plant, with the company on the brink of bankruptcy.[8]

The gamble paid dividends, however, and Boeing enjoyed a monopoly in the very large passenger aircraft industry for decades. In fact, the record and benchmark set by the 747 would only be surpassed, more than 35 years after its first delivery, by the Airbus A380, built by Boeing's rival.[11]

In service

Flight cockpit of the 747-200.

On January 15 1970, First Lady Pat Nixon officially christened a Pan Am Boeing 747 at Washington Dulles International Airport in the presence of Pan Am chairman Najeeb Halaby. Red, white, and blue water was sprayed on the aircraft, rather than breaking a bottle of champagne. The first commercial flight involving the Boeing 747 took place on January 21 1970 operated by Pan Am between New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and London Heathrow Airport. Pan Am added 747 service to London from Boston, Washington, and other cities during the spring and summer of 1970. Overnight, a new standard of air travel had been created and other airlines rushed to bring their own 747 jets into service. TWA, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa, BOAC, and Northwest Orient would be among the first carriers to offer 747 service on long-haul flights. American Airlines initiated 747 service between New York and Los Angeles by the summer of 1970.

Initially, many airlines regarded the 747 with skepticism. McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed, were working on wide-body three-engine "tri-jets", which were significantly smaller than the proposed 747. Many airlines believed the 747 would prove too large for an average long distance flight, investing instead in tri-jets. There were also concerns that the 747 would not be compatible with existing airport infrastructure, similar concerns that the Airbus A380 currently faces, however compounded even more due to its double-decker feature.[12]

Another issue raised by the airlines was fuel efficiency. A three-engine airliner generally burns less fuel per flight than a four-engine, and with airlines trying to lower costs, fuel efficiency was an important issue that would briefly return to haunt Boeing in the 1970s.

Many of the airlines' fears came to bear in the 1970s. The Arab oil crisis and economic stagnation in the United States lowered the number of airline passengers and made it difficult for airlines to fill their new 747s. American Airlines replaced coach seats on its 747s with piano bars in an attempt to attract more customers: eventually, it relegated its 747s to cargo service and then sold them. Continental Airlines also removed its 747s from service after several years. The advent of smaller, more efficient widebodies, starting with the trijet DC-10 and L-1011 and followed by the twinjet 767 and A300, took away much of the 747's original market, especially as airline deregulation made point-to-point international service more common. Other airlines that have removed 747s from their fleet include Air Canada, Aer Lingus, Avianca, SAS, TAP, America West, and Olympic Airways.

However, many international airlines continued to use the 747 on their busiest routes. The type remained popular among Asian airlines for short and medium-range flights between major cities: in Japan, domestic airlines continue to pack 747s to their maximum passenger capacity. Elsewhere, 747s remain popular on long-range trunk routes, such as transoceanic flights and the Kangaroo routes between Europe and Oceania. The largest fleet of 747s today belongs to Japan Airlines, at approximately 78 (series -200s, -300s and 44 -400s). British Airways has the next largest fleet of 747s, comprising 56 747-400s.

United Airlines 747-400 parked at Denver International Airport.

Future of the 747

Many different stretching schemes for the 747 have been proposed, but the only design to be adopted is 2005's 747-8. The 747-X program was launched in 1996 as Boeing's response to the Airbus A3XX proposal. The 747-X would have consisted of the 747-500X and 747-600X, seating up to 800 passengers. General Electric and P&W formed the Engine Alliance and designed the GP7200 turbofan to power the stretched 747. Airlines, however, would have preferred Boeing to develop an all-new design instead of an updated 747, and the plan was dropped after a few months.

After development of the Airbus A380 formally began in 2000, Boeing reexamined its 747-X studies but instead devoted its energies to the Sonic Cruiser[13], and then later on the 787 after the Sonic Cruiser program was put on hold for an undefined period.[14] Some of the ideas developed for the 747-X were, however, used in the production of the 747-400ER.

In early 2004, Boeing rolled out tentative plans for what it called the 747 Advanced. Similar in nature to the 747-X plans, the stretched 747 Advanced uses advanced technology from the 787 to modernize the design and its systems. On November 14 2005, Boeing announced it was launching the 747 Advanced as the 747-8. [15] Eventually, the 747 (in all forms) will be replaced by a clean-sheet aircraft dubbed "Y3".


There are five variants of the 747 and launched on five separate occasions. The 747-100 was the original and launched in 1966. The 747-200 was the second model and followed soon after with an order in 1968. The 747-300 was launched in 1980. The 747-400 was launched in 1985, and the last, the 747-8 was launched in 2005. Although there are a total of five models, numerous versions of each type have been produced. Many of these variants were in production at the same time, specially in the 1980's. However, only the 747-400 has been in production since.

File:B-747 121 boeing.jpg
Boeing 747-100 in livery of launch customer Pan Am


The first model of the jet, the 747-100, rolled out of the new Everett facility on 2 September 1968. The prototype, named City of Everett, first flew on February 9 1969[16], and on January 22 1970 the 747-100 entered service with launch customer Pan American World Airways on the New York-London route.[17] The flight was supposed to occur on January 21, but engine overheating made the original plane unusable and it had to be substituted, creating a more than 6-hour delay.[17] The basic 100 has a range of about Template:Mile with full load.[18] The US military designation for 747-100 is C-19.

The very first 747-100s off the line were built with three upper-deck windows to accommodate upstairs lounge areas. A little later, as airlines began to use the upper-deck for premium passenger seating instead of lounge space, Boeing offered a ten window upper deck as an option, and it quickly became the standard. Some 100s were even retrofitted with the new configuration.

With a MTOW of 735,000 lb compared to the 833,000 lb of the 747-200, no freighter model of this aircraft was offered directly by Boeing. However, upon airline retirement, many 747-100s have been converted to freighters over the years. Their cheap acquisition costs more than compensate for lack of carrying capacity. They are also ideal for parcels since volume is paramount to weight.

A 747-100, registered N905NA, is operated by NASA as a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. It was acquired in 1974 from American Airlines.

A 747-100 is owned by General Electric and used as a testbed for their engines.

Total production was 250. Of these, 167 were 747-100, 45 were SP, 29 were SR, and 9 were 100B.


The 747-100 was later superseded by the 747-100B, which has a stronger airframe and undercarriage design.[18] This increased maximum take-off weight to Template:Pound avoirdupois. The 747-100B was only delivered to Iran Air and Saudia (now Saudi Arabian Airlines).[19]


With requests from Japanese airlines, Boeing developed the 747SR as a 'Short Range' variant of the 747-100. The SR has a lower fuel capacity, but can carry more passengers - up to 498 passengers in early versions and more than 550 passengers in later models. The 747SR has a modified body structure to accommodate the added stress accumulated from a greater number of take-offs and landings. Later on, short range versions were developed also of the -100B and the -300. The SR aircraft are primarily used on domestic flights in Japan.[20]

Two 747-100B/SRs were delivered to Japan Airlines (JAL) with a stretched upper deck to accommodate more passengers. This is known as the "SUD" (stretched upper deck) modification.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) operated 747SR on domestic Japanese routes with 455-456 seats but retired the aircraft on 10 March 2006. JAL operates its 747-100B/SR/SUD aircraft with 563 seats on domestic routes and plans for retirement in the third quarter of 2006. JAL and JALways have also been operating the -300SRs on domestic leisure routes and to other parts of Asia.

One ex-JAL 747-100SR, registered N911NA, is operated by NASA as a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. It was added in 1988 and first carried a shuttle in 1991.

With the arrival of the much more economical Boeing 777-300, the SRs are now being replaced, with just a very few still in operation.


747SP refitted as the SOFIA astronomical observatory

The 747SP, or "Special Performance," was first offered to customers in 1974 and delivered in 1976. The SP was developed to target two market requirements. The first was to offer a smaller model to compete with the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011, while maintaining commonality with the larger standard 747s. The 747 was simply too big for many routes, and Boeing did not have a mid-sized widebody to compete in the segment of the market that the DC-10 and L-1011 had created. The second market requirement was the ultra long-range routes which were emerging in the mid-1970s. This required not only a longer range, but a higher cruising speed. Boeing could not afford to develop an all-new design, so instead shortened the 747 and re-optimized it for speed and range at the expense of capacity.

Apart from having a 47.1' shorter fuselage and 4 doors on either side of the main deck of the aircraft as opposed to 5 on every other 747, the 747SP differs from other 747 variants in having a larger tail surface and simpler wing flap system. The 747SP uses larger single-piece flaps on the trailing edges (other 747s use triple flaps). The SP was also the first (and one of two) Boeing widebody commerical jets to have a wingspan measuring longer than the length of the plane. The other is the 777-200LR being a more modest 3.5' wider than longer. This is not standard design with airliners as it can make the aircraft center heavy if the wingspan is significantly longer. The SP being 196' wide and 177' long, required a taller vertical fin to reduce moment arm with the shorter fuselage. However, as an added benefit to planes with longer wingspans than fuselage (such as high altitude reconnaissance or spy planes), the wings can produce more lift and therefore the plane can fly higher into thinner atmosphere as evident by the SP's ability to 'cruise' above 40,000 ft. SP Pilot

The SP could accommodate 230 passengers in a comfortable 3-class cabin or 316 in a (288 economy 28 business) 2-class cabin. It could however handle a maximum of 440 passengers at 32" pitch in one class. In its basic configuration with the lowest MTOW of 630,000 lb. it could still fly 6500 mi (10,500 km) at cruise speeds of 620 mph (1020 km/h) and as high as 45,000 feet. If fully fueled and taking off with less than its MTOW of 696,000 lb with P&W JT9D engines, it could easily cruise at Mach .92 and fly for over 16,000 km.33

Some airline insiders call it the "74 Short" or "Baby Jumbo" because of its shortened fuselage, and stubby appearance. Originally it was designated 747SB (for "Short Body", later was nicknamed "Sutter's Balloon" by Boeing employees, after 747 chief engineer Joe Sutter). Boeing later changed the production designation to 747SP, reflecting the aircraft's longer range and faster cruise speed. Pan Am was the launch customer for the 747SP, taking the first delivery, Clipper Freedom, on March 5 1976.[21]

The 747SP was the longest-range airliner available until the 747-400 entered service in 1989. For all its technical achievements, the SP never sold as well as Boeing hoped. Increased fuel prices in the mid 70's to early 80's, its heavy wingspan, reduced capacity, and increased range of upcoming planes, were some of the many factors in its demise. Only 45 were ever built and most that are still in service are used by operators in the Middle East. The production run of the SP ran from 1976 to 1983, however a VIP order for Amiri Flight of UAE forced Boeing to open production of the SP one last time in 1989. This plane is meticulously kept and has been photographed numerous times around the world. Another special 747SP is the SOFIA astronomical observatory, where the airframe was modified to carry a 2.5-meter-diameter infrared reflecting telescope to high-altitude, the limit to which infrared penetrates the atmosphere. Originally delivered to Pan Am and titled "Clipper Lindbergh", NASA has displayed the name in Pan Am script on the plane.

Past 747SP operators include:

  • Pan Am took delivery of ten 747-SP21 aircraft between 1975 and 1979, operating them on trans-Pacific routes to Asia and Oceania. The aircraft and routes were sold to United Airlines in 1986, and remained in operation until 1994.
  • South African Airways operated six 747-SP44 aircraft on flights from Johannesburg to London, during the apartheid years, when that airline's aircraft were not allowed to fly over African countries and had to fly around the Bulge of Africa. The extra range allowed the aircraft to cover the additional distance.
  • TWA operated three 747-SP31 aircraft from 1979 to 1986. Two of these were purchased by American Airlines and used on London and Tokyo routes until 1993.
  • Iran Air took delivery of four 747-SP86 aircraft between 1976 and 1978. Prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution, the aircraft were used on the daily Tehran-New York flight, at the time the longest non-stop airline route in the world. Two of those four are still in serivce at 2006.
  • Qantas operated two 747-SP38 aircraft from 1980 to 2004.
  • Braniff took delivery of 3 747-SP on their ultra longhaul routes in the Pacific. Fitted with 300 seats in a luxurious cabin and an all orange exterior, it was easily recognized by onlookers and plane enthusiasts.31 Of the three planes, as of August 2006, one has been scrapped, one is in VIP service with Yemen government, and the other is in VIP service with the Oman government.
  • Aerolineas Argentinas operated one SP (from Braniff) on flights to Miami, Los Angeles, Toronto, Zurich and Frankfurt.

As of August 2006, of the 45 manufactured, 14 are still flying, 15 have been scrapped, and the remainder are in storage or withdrawn from use. 32


Air France 747-200 in landing configuration

Entering service in 1971, and further improved over successive years, the 747-200 had more powerful engines and higher takeoff weights than the -100, allowing it to fly farther. A few early build -200s retained the three window configuration of the -100, but most were built with a ten window configuration. As on the -100, a stretched upper deck (SUD) modification was offered much later. KLM remains the only airline to retrofit their -200s with the SUD option. Today,many -200s are still in passenger operation,though the September 11th terrorist attacks accelerated their retirement or conversion to freighters.


The 747-200B is an improved version of the 747-200, with increased fuel capacity and more powerful engines. It comes in a combi version as well. The 200B were built in the late 1980s and have a full load range of about Template:Mile. The US military designation for 747-200B is C-25. The USAF only operates two C-25, in VIP configuration (VC-25A). These two aircraft, tail numbers 28000 and 29000 are known by the call sign Air Force One when the US President is onboard.


The 747-200C Convertible is essentially a passenger aircraft that can be converted to a freighter and back when needed. The seats are removable and the fuselage has a much bigger door on the maindeck for cargo entry.


This type can carry both freight and passengers, but unlike the 200C, it can do so at the same time. A wall half way through the main deck, separates the cargo in the back from passengers on the front. This type carries cargo throughout the lower deck, and on half the maindeck, along with roughly 200 passengers.


This is the pure freighter version of the aircraft. It can be ordered with or without the signature nose door. It has a 105ton capacity and a MTOW of 833,000 lb. It entered service in 1972 with Lufthansa.

Total production was 393. Of these, 225 were 747-200, 78 were M, 73 were F, 13 were C, and 4 were military.


Pakistan International (PIA) 747-300 on final approach to London Heathrow Airport

With the poor reception of the 747SP due to higher trip costs compared to the DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 Boeing decided on offering a trijet version of the SP. The plane would have been bigger than either of the two, with more payload, range, and passenger capacity, but it received a cold reception and was never launched. Another option was to go bigger and extend the upperdeck all the way back for seating around 600, however this was also dropped.[1]

The 747-300 name was revived for a new aircraft, which was introduced in 1980, and was the first 747 model to feature a "stretched upper deck". However Boeing extended the top by only 23 ft 4 in and not all the way. The 300 also had a straight staircase for the upperdeck rather then the spiral, and this created more room both below and above for more seats. With minor aerodynamic tweeks, Boeing managed to increase the cruise speed of the 300 to Mach 0.85 from Mach 0.84 on the 100/200. Also, with improved fuelburn, range improved to 7700mi (12,392 km).

Swissair was the launch customer for the 747-300, however, the first plane was delivered to French airline UTA on March 1 1983.[22]

Boeing never launched a 747-300F as it had no operating advantage over the 747-200F. The most significant change between the 747-300 and the 747-200 was the stretched upperdeck which was useless in freighter configuration as no cargo is placed on this deck.

Despite the improvements of the -300, only 81 aircraft were ordered, 56 for full passenger use, 21 M and 4 SR. One factor for the low sales was the launching of the 747-400 in 1985 (just 2 years since the -300 entered service) and the subsequent wait of the airlines for a much more advanced product. Today, most of the -300 versions are still in passenger operation, mostly in south and west Asia.


The 300M had similar cargo capacity as the 200M, however with the stretched upperdeck it could carry more passengers. This proved popular in the fleet of KLM on their Africa routes that had few passengers, yet considerable air freight.


The Japanese airlines again asked for a high capacity domestic model and Boeing offered the SR. JAL operated such aircraft with over 500 seats on Okinawa-Tokyo route as well as others.

Airlines currently operating a large number of 747-300 are JAL/JALways, Air India, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Qantas, and Thai Airways.


British Airways 747-400 landing at London Heathrow Airport.

The 747-400 is the latest model of the 747 and the only series still in production. It is offered in several versions discussed on the main page article. It added Template:Feet wing tip extensions and Template:Feet winglets, an all-new glass cockpit which dispensed with the need for a flight engineer, tail fuel tanks, revised engines, and an all-new interior.

The passenger version first entered service in February 1989 with Northwest Airlines on the Minneapolis to Phoenix route.[23] The combi version entered service in September 1989 with KLM. The freighter version entered service in November 1993 with Cargolux.


File:Boeing 747-8I Large.jpg
Compared to previous 747s, the 747-8 Intercontinental is “stretched” in two bands for a total extension of Template:Feet.

Boeing announced a new 747 model, the 747-8 (referred to as the 747 Advanced prior to launch) on November 14 2005, which will use same engine and cockpit technology as the 787 (It was decided to call it the 747-8 because of the technology it will share with the 787 Dreamliner). Boeing claims that the new design will be quieter, more economical and more environmentally friendly. The passenger version (dubbed 747-8 Intercontinental) will be capable of carrying up to 450 passengers in a 3-class configuration and fly over Template:Nautical mile at Template:Mach. As a derivative of the already common 747-400, the 747-8 has the economic benefit of similar training and interchangeable parts.

Since 1990, the U.S. presidental fleet consists of two highly-customized Boeing 747-200Bs.

Government and military

The US military designation for 747-400 is C-33, intended to augment the C-17 fleet, but the plan was cancelled in favor of purchasing additional C-17 military transports.

The current U.S. presidential aircraft, two 747's tail numbered 28000 and 29000 with Air Force designation VC-25A, are among the most famous 747 models. They are popularly known as Air Force One, although that name is technically the call sign for any United States Air Force aircraft carrying the President. Both VC-25A's are based on the civilian 747-200B, though they contain many of the innovations introduced on the 747-400 (such as an updated flight deck and engines). Other special 747s include the E-4B Formerly known as National Emergency Airborne Command Post (referred to colloquially as "Kneecap"), now referred to as National Airborne Operational Command (NAOC), modified 747s to transport the Space Shuttle (Shuttle Carrier Aircraft), and aerial refueling tankers. A recent addition to the military's 747 arsenal is the experimental Airborne Laser, a component of the National Missile Defense plan. T/Space is also planning to use a 747 for its CXV space capsule proposal.

A number of other governments also use the 747 as a VIP transport, including Bahrain, Brunei, India, Iran, Japan, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.


A PIA 747 taking off from Allama Iqbal Intl Airport, Lahore

(For the last versions of each series offered)

Technical data

Measurement 747-100 (initial version) 747-400ER (current version) 747-8 Intercontinental (future version)[2]
Length 70.7 m 70.7 m 74.2 m
Span 59.6 m 64.4 m 68.5 m
Height 19.3 m 19.4 m 19.4 m
Wing area 511 m² 541 m² ?
Weight empty 162.4 t 180.8 t ?
Maximum take-off weight 340.2 t 412.8 t 440 t
Cruising speed Template:Mach Template:Mach Template:Mach
Maximum speed Template:Mach Template:Mach Template:Mach
Range fully loaded   9,040 km 14 200 km 15 372 km
Max. fuel capacity   183 380 litres 241 140 litres 227 600 litres
Max. fuel/Range, fully loaded   20.3 L/km 17.0 L/km 14.8 L/km
Cargo capacity   170.6 CBM (5 pallets + 14 LD1s) 158.6 CBM (4 pallets + 14 LD1s) 275.6 CBM (8 pallets + 16 LD1s)
Engines (example) 4 × Pratt & Whitney JT9D, 209 kN thrust each 4 × General Electric CF6-80, 274 kN thrust each 4 × General Electric GEnx-2B67, 296 kN thrust each
Cockpit Crew Three Two Two


Facts & trivia

  • A 747-400 has six million parts (half of which are fasteners) made in 33 countries.
  • Just one engine on a 747 produces more thrust than all four engines on an early model Boeing 707 combined.
  • As with other airliners such as the DC-10, the engines on a 747 are not visible from the cockpit windows. This configuration has had significance during various accidents and incidents involving this aircraft.
  • When pressurized, a 747 fuselage holds over a ton of air.
  • Early model 747s have more than 700 lb (300 kg) of depleted uranium molded into the engine nacelles. Its purpose is as ballast to prevent the wing from fluttering.
  • At the time of its launch, the term "jumbo jet" had already been coined by the media to describe a general class of new wide-bodied airliners then being developed, including the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar and McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Boeing was keen to discourage the media and the public from using the term "jumbo jet" for the 747, but their efforts were in vain and now the term is synonymous with the 747.
  • Because of its length, there is a small flexure of the fuselage in flight. This effect was not anticipated in the design of the autopilot on early models, and so there is a very slow oscillation in yaw when flying on autopilot. This was first discovered on an overseas flight to the Paris Airshow, when some of the people in the rear became air sick. Upon return, the plane went through tests to solve the problem and adjust the yaw damper system. The effect is now too small to be noticeable by passengers.
  • To enable easy transportation of spare engines between sites by airlines, early 747s include the ability to attach a non functioning fifth-pod engine under the port wing of the aircraft, between the nearest functioning engine and the fuselage. Photographs of planes flying in this configuration are highly prized by aircraft enthusiasts.[3][4][5]
  • Although the upper deck might seem small compared to the size of the whole aircraft, it can seat a significant number of people: JAL has 86 seats on the upper deck of its 747-400D aircraft.
  • The 747 is certified to fly on 3 of its 4 engines. A 747 can successfully take-off even if an engine fails after rotation, and in many cases the flight can continue to its destination.
  • On 24 May 1991 an El Al Boeing 747 airlifted a record-breaking 1,087 passengers - Ethiopian Jews flying from Addis Ababa to Israel as part of Operation Solomon. The passenger count became 1,088 when a baby was born in-flight.
  • In December 2004, a special Boeing 747-400 (B-18210) was delivered to China Airlines. It is nicknamed "747 Dreamliner". Its livery is a combination of Boeing's corporate livery on the fuselage and China Airlines's plum blossoom on the tail. It is one of two non-retrofitted non-747-400ERs to feature Boeing's Signature Interior from the Boeing 777 (the other being B-18211, also delivered to China Airlines).
  • There are other aircraft with prominent humps on the upper fuselage including the Carvair, which was built from 1961 to 1969. Its most notable appearance is in the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger.
  • An American Airlines 747-123 was featured in Airport 1975.
  • The Boeing 747 is the plane used in the 2006 film, Snakes on a Plane.

Preserved aircraft

As increasing numbers of 'classic' 747-100 and 747-200 series are retired, some are finding their way into aircraft museums. They include:

Disasters & Incidents

The first crash of a 747 took place in 1974 when Lufthansa Flight 540 crashed in Nairobi killing 59 people.

The Tenerife disaster on March 27 1977 claimed a total of 583 lives when two 747s collided in heavy fog at Los Rodeos Airport, making it the highest death toll of any accident in aviation history.[24] On August 12 1985, the Japan Airlines Flight 123 (a 747SR) lost control and crashed, causing 520 fatalities and is currently the worst single-aircraft disaster in aviation history.[25] The Lockerbie bombing, the deadliest terrorist attack against the United States until the September 11, 2001 attacks, was a Pan-Am 747-100.

Despite all these, very few crashes have been attributed to design flaws of the 747: The Tenerife disaster was a result of pilot error, ATC error and communications failure, while Japan Airlines Flight 123 the consequence of improper aircraft repair done by Boeing. United Airlines Flight 811, which suffered an explosive decompression mid-flight on February 24 1989, subsequently had NTSB issuing a recommendation to have all similar 747-100 cargo doors modified. TWA Flight 800, a 747-100 that exploded mid-air on July 17 1996, led to the Federal Aviation Administration proposing a rule requiring the installation of an inerting system in the center fuel tank for most large aircraft. As of May 2006, there were a total of 44 hull-loss occurrences involving 747s, with 3707 fatalities.


A size comparison between four of the largest aircraft
  1. ^ "Ask Us - Largest Plane in the World",, retrieved April 29 2006
  2. ^ "Model 747", Orders and Deliveries, The Boeing Company, retrieved April 29 2006.
  3. ^ "Technical Characteristics -- Boeing 747-400", Boeing Commercial Airplanes, retrieved April 29 2006
  4. ^ "Boeing aircraft Take Qantas Further", Qantas, retrieved April 29 2006
  5. ^ a b c d History - "747 Commercial Transport", The Boeing Company, April 29 2006
  6. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference milestone was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  7. ^ a b "Passenger Planes: Boeing 747", David Noland, Infoplease (Pearson Education), retrieved April 30 2006
  8. ^ a b c "The Boeing 747", Judy Rumerman, U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission, retrieved April 30 2006
  9. ^ "The Concorde Supersonic Transport", T.A. Heppenheimer, U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission, retrieved April 30 2006
  10. ^ Bowers, p 508
  11. ^ "Airbus unveils 'superjumbo' jet", BBC News, January 18 2005
  12. ^ "How the Airbus A380 Works - Triumph or Mistake?", Howstuffworks, retrieved April 29 2006
  13. ^ "Boeing Shelves 747X to Focus on Faster Jet", People's Daily, March 30 2001
  14. ^ "Boeing's Amazing Sonic Cruiser It was supposed to change the way the world flies. Instead the world changed.", Alex Taylor III, Fortune, December 9 2002
  15. ^ "Boeing Launches New 747-8 Family", The Boeing Company press release, November 14 2005
  16. ^ "Boeing 747 takes maiden flight on February 9, 1969", HistoryLink, retrieved 30 April 2006
  17. ^ a b Norris, p. 48
  18. ^ a b Wilson, p. 54
  19. ^ Norris, p. 53
  20. ^ Bowers, p 516-517
  21. ^ Norris, p. 74
  22. ^ Norris, p.63
  23. ^ Norris, p. 88
  24. ^ "1977: Hundreds dead in Tenerife plane crash", BBC News On This Day, retrieved May 26 2006
  25. ^ Japan marks air crash anniversary, BBC News, August 12 2005


  • Peter M Bowers, (1989), Putnam Aeronautical Books, Boeing aircraft since 1916. ISBN 0-85177-804-6
  • Guy Norris and Mark Wagner, (1997), MBI Publishing Co, Boeing 747. ISBN 0-7603-0280-4
  • Stewart Wilson, (1999), Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd, Airliners of the World. ISBN 1-875671-44-7

External links

The impressive wing span of a Boeing 747-300 series. This is an aircraft of PIA landing at London Heathrow Airport.

Related content

Template:Giant aircraft

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Template:Boeing Airliners

Template:Link FA