- Aircraft History, Specification and Information -
Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet

The Boeing 747 is a widebody commercial airliner and cargo transport, often referred to by the nickname Jumbo Jet or Queen of the Skies. It is among the world's most recognizable aircraft, and was the first widebody ever produced. Manufactured by Boeing's Commercial Airplane unit in the United States, the original version of the 747 was two and a half times the size of the Boeing 707, one of the common large commercial aircraft of the 1960s. First flown commercially in 1970, the 747 held the passenger capacity record for 37 years.

Boeing 747-400
1990 Boeing 747-436 Jumbo Jet
G-BNLR (sn 24447)
British Airways Jumbo Jet on short final for Runway 26R at Vancouver International Airport.
Photo taken September 05, 2006
Vancouver Airport, BC Canada (CYVR)
Photo Copyright and Thanks to
Marcel Siegenthaler
Boeing 747SP
Boeing 747SP-31
VP-BLK (sn 21961/415)
Picture taken October 20, 2007
Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, NV USA (KLAS)
Photo Copyright and Thanks to
Brandon T. Perez

The four-engine 747 uses a double deck configuration for part of its length. It is available in passenger, freighter and other versions. Boeing designed the 747's hump-like upper deck to serve as a first class lounge or (as is the general rule today) extra seating, and to allow the aircraft to be easily converted to a cargo carrier by removing seats and installing a front cargo door. Boeing did so because the company expected supersonic airliners (whose development was announced in the early 1960s) to render the 747 and other subsonic airliners obsolete; while believing that the demand for subsonic cargo aircraft would be robust into the future. The 747 in particular was expected to become obsolete after 400 were sold but it exceeded its critics' expectations with production passing the 1,000 mark in 1993. As of June 2010, 1,418 aircraft have been built, with 109 more in various configurations remaining on order.

The 747-400, the latest version in service, is among the fastest airliners in service with a high-subsonic cruise speed of Mach 0.85 (567 mph or 913 km/h). It has an intercontinental range of 7,260 nautical miles (8,350 mi or 13,450 km). The 747-400 passenger version can accommodate 416 passengers in a typical three-class layout or 524 passengers in a typical two-class layout. The next version of the aircraft, the 747-8, is in production and the freighter version (747-8F) is scheduled to enter service at the end of 2010 followed by the passenger version (747-8I) in 2011. The 747 is to be replaced by the Boeing Y3 (part of the Boeing Yellowstone Project) in the future.


In 1963, the United States Air Force started a series of study projects on a very large strategic transport aircraft. Although the C-141 Starlifter was being introduced, they felt that a much larger and more capable aircraft was needed, especially the capability to carry outsized cargo that would not fit in any existing aircraft. These studies led to initial requirements for the CX-Heavy Logistics System (CX-HLS) in March 1964 for an aircraft with a load capacity of 180,000 pounds (81,600 kg) and a speed of Mach 0.75 (500 mph/805 km/h), and an unrefueled range of 5,000 nautical miles (9,260 km) with a payload of 115,000 pounds (52,200 kg). The payload bay had to be 17 feet (5.18 m) wide by 13.5 feet (4.11 m) high and 100 feet (30.5 m) long with access through doors at the front and rear.

Featuring only four engines, the design also required new engine designs with greatly increased power and better fuel economy. On 18 May 1964, airframe proposals arrived from Boeing, Douglas, General Dynamics, Lockheed and Martin Marietta; while engine proposals were submitted by General Electric, Curtiss-Wright, and Pratt & Whitney. After a downselect, Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed were given additional study contracts for the airframe, along with General Electric and Pratt & Whitney for the engines.

All three of the airframe proposals shared a number of features. As the CX-HLS needed to be able to be loaded from the front, a door had to be included where the cockpit usually was. All of the companies solved this problem by moving the cockpit to above the cargo area; Douglas had a small "pod" just forward and above the wing, Lockheed used a long "spine" running the length of the aircraft with the wing spar passing through it, while Boeing blended the two, with a longer pod that ran from just behind the nose to just behind the wing. In 1965 Lockheed's aircraft design and General Electric's engine design were selected for the new C-5 Galaxy transport, which was the largest military aircraft in the world at the time. The nose door and raised cockpit concepts would be carried over to the design of the 747.

Airliner proposal
The 747 was conceived while air travel was increasing in the 1960s. The era of commercial jet transportation, led by the enormous popularity of the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8, had revolutionized long-distance travel. Even before it lost the CX-HLS contract, Boeing was pressed by Juan Trippe, president of Pan American World Airways (Pan Am), one of its most important airline customers, to build a passenger aircraft more than twice the size of the 707. During this time, airport congestion, worsened by increasing numbers of passengers carried on relatively small aircraft, became a problem that Trippe thought could be addressed by a large new aircraft.

In 1965, Joe Sutter was transferred from Boeing's 737 development team to manage the studies for a new airliner, already assigned the model number 747. Sutter initiated a design study with Pan Am and other airlines, in order to better understand their requirements. At the time, it was widely thought that the 747 would eventually be superseded by supersonic transport aircraft. Boeing responded by designing the 747 so that it could be adapted easily to carry freight and remain in production even if sales of the passenger version declined. In the freighter role, the clear need was to support the containerized shipping methodologies that were being widely introduced at about the same time. Standard containers are 8 ft (2.4 m) square at the front (slightly higher due to attachment points) and available in 20 and 40 ft (6.1 and 12 m) lengths. This meant that it would be possible to support a 2-wide 2-high stack of containers two or three ranks deep with a fuselage size similar to the earlier CX-HLS project.

In April 1966, Pan Am ordered twenty-five 747-100 aircraft for US$525 million. During the ceremonial 747 contract-signing banquet in Seattle on Boeing's 50th Anniversary, Juan Trippe predicted that the 747 would be "... a great weapon for peace, competing with intercontinental missiles for mankind's destiny", according to Malcolm T. Stamper, one of the senior management for the 747 program at the time. As launch customer, and because of its early involvement before placing a formal order, Pan Am was able to influence the design and development of the 747 to an extent unmatched by a single airline before or since.

Design effort
Ultimately, the high-winged CX-HLS Boeing design was not used for the 747, although technologies developed for their bid had an influence. The original design included a full-length double-deck fuselage with rows of eight-across seating and two aisles on the lower deck and seven-across seating and two aisles on the upper deck. However, concern over evacuation routes and limited cargo-carrying capability caused this idea to be scrapped in early 1966 in favor of a wider single deck design. The cockpit was, therefore, placed on a shortened upper deck so that a freight-loading door could be included in the nose cone; this design feature produced the 747's distinctive "bulge". In early models it was not clear what to do with the small space in the pod behind the cockpit, and this was initially specified as a "lounge" area with no permanent seating.

One of the principal technologies that enabled an aircraft as large as the 747 to be conceived was the high-bypass turbofan engine. The engine technology was thought to be capable of delivering double the power of the earlier turbojets while consuming a third less fuel. General Electric had pioneered the concept but was committed to developing the engine for the C-5 Galaxy and did not enter the commercial market until later. Pratt & Whitney was also working on the same principle and, by late 1966, Boeing, Pan-Am and Pratt & Whitney agreed to develop a new engine, designated JT9D, to power the 747.

The project was designed with a new methodology called fault tree analysis, which allowed the effects of a failure of a single part to be studied to determine its impact on other systems. To address concerns about safety and flyability, the 747's design included structural redundancy, redundant hydraulic systems, quadruple main landing gear and dual control surfaces. Additionally, some of the most advanced high-lift devices used in the industry were included in the new design, in order to allow it to operate from existing airports. These included leading edge flaps running almost the entire length of the wing, as well as complex three-part slotted flaps along the rear. The wing's complex three-part flaps increase wing area by 21% and lift by 90% when fully deployed compared to their nondeployed configuration.

Boeing agreed to deliver the first 747 to Pan Am by the end of 1969. The delivery date left 28 months to design the aircraft, which was two-thirds the normal time. The schedule was so fast paced that the people who worked on it were given the nickname "The Incredibles". Developing the aircraft was such a technical and financial challenge that management was said to have "bet the company" when it started the project.

Production plant
Because Boeing did not have a plant large enough to assemble the giant airliner, they chose to build a new plant. The company considered locations in about 50 cities, and eventually decided to build the new plant some 30 miles (48 km) north of Seattle on a site adjoining a military base at Paine Field near Everett, Washington. It bought the 780 acre (316 hectare) site in June 1966.

Developing the 747 had been a major challenge, and building its assembly plant was also a huge undertaking. Boeing president William M. Allen asked Malcolm T. Stamper, then head of the company's turbine division, to oversee construction of the Everett factory and to start production of the 747. To level the site, more than 4 million cubic yards (3.1 million m³) of earth had to be moved. Time was so short that the 747's full-scale mock-up was built before the factory roof above it was finished. The plant is the largest building by volume ever built, and has been substantially expanded several times to permit construction of other models of Boeing widebody commercial jets.

Development and testing
Before the first 747 was fully assembled, testing began on many components and systems. One important test involved the evacuation of 560 volunteers from a cabin mock-up via the aircraft's emergency chutes. The first full-scale evacuation took two and a half minutes instead of the maximum of 90 seconds mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration, and several volunteers were injured. Subsequent test evacuations achieved the 90-second goal but caused more injuries. Most problematic was evacuation from the aircraft's upper deck; instead of using a conventional slide, volunteer passengers escaped by using a harness attached to a reel. Tests also involved taxiing such a large aircraft. Boeing built an unusual training device known as "Waddell's Wagon" (named for a 747 test pilot, Jack Waddell) that consisted of a mock-up cockpit mounted on the roof of a truck. While the first 747s were still being built, the device allowed pilots to practice taxi maneuvers from a high upper-deck position.

On 30 September 1968, the first 747 was rolled out of the Everett assembly building before the world's press and representatives of the 26 airlines that had ordered the airliner. Over the following months, preparations were made for the first flight, which took place on February 9, 1969, with test pilots Jack Waddell and Brien Wygle at the controls and Jess Wallick at the flight engineer's station. Despite a minor problem with one of the flaps, the flight confirmed that the 747 handled extremely well. The 747 was found to be largely immune to "Dutch roll", a phenomenon that had been a major hazard to the early swept-wing jets.

During later stages of the flight test program, flutter testing showed that the wings suffered oscillation under certain conditions. This difficulty was partly solved by reducing the stiffness of some wing components. However, a particularly severe high-speed flutter problem was solved only by inserting depleted uranium counterweights as ballast in the outboard engine nacelles of the early 747s. This measure caused anxiety when these aircraft crashed, as did China Airlines Flight 358 at Wanli in 1991 and El Al Flight 1862 at Amsterdam in 1992.

The flight test program was hampered by problems with the 747's JT9D engines. Difficulties included engine stalls caused by rapid movements of the throttles and distortion of the turbine casings after a short period of service. The problems delayed 747 deliveries for several months and stranded up to 20 aircraft at the Everett plant while they awaited engine installation. The program was further delayed when one of the five test aircraft suffered serious damage during a landing attempt at Renton Municipal Airport, site of Boeing's Renton plant. The test aircraft was being taken to have its test equipment removed and a cabin installed when pilot Ralph C. Cokely undershot the short runway and sheared off the 747's landing gear. However, these difficulties did not prevent Boeing from taking one of the test aircraft to the 28th Paris Air Show in mid-1969, where it was displayed to the general public for the first time. The 747 achieved its FAA airworthiness certificate in December 1969, making it ready for introduction into service.

The huge cost of developing the 747 and building the Everett factory meant that Boeing had to borrow heavily from a banking syndicate. During the final months before delivery of the first aircraft, the company had to repeatedly request additional funding to complete the project. Had this been refused, Boeing's survival would have been threatened. Ultimately, the gamble succeeded, and Boeing held a monopoly in very large passenger aircraft production for many years.

Entry into service
On January 15, 1970, First Lady of the United States Pat Nixon christened Pan Am's first 747, Clipper Victor, at Dulles International Airport (later renamed Washington Dulles International Airport) in the presence of Pan Am chairman Najeeb Halaby. Instead of champagne, red, white and blue water was sprayed on the aircraft. The 747 entered service on January 22, 1970, on Pan Am's New York–London route; the flight had been planned for the evening of January 21, but engine overheating made the original aircraft unusable. Finding a substitute delayed the flight by more than six hours to the following day.

The 747 enjoyed a fairly smooth introduction into service, overcoming concerns that some airports would not be able to accommodate an aircraft that large. Although technical problems occurred, they were relatively minor and quickly solved. After the aircraft's introduction with Pan Am, other airlines that had bought the 747 in order to stay competitive began to put their own 747s into service. Boeing estimated that half of the early 747 sales were to airlines requiring the aircraft's long range rather than its payload capacity. But though the 747 had the lowest potential operating cost per seat, this could only be achieved when the aircraft was fully loaded; costs per seat increased rapidly as occupancy declined. A moderately loaded 747, one with only 70 percent of its seats occupied, used more than 95 percent of the fuel needed by a fully occupied 747.

When economic problems in the United States and other countries after the 1973 oil crisis led to reduced passenger traffic, several airlines found they did not have enough passengers to fly the 747 economically, and they replaced them with the smaller and recently introduced McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 TriStar trijet wide bodies (and later the 767 and A300 twinjets). Having tried replacing coach seats on its 747s with piano bars in an attempt to attract more customers, American Airlines eventually relegated its 747s to cargo service and in 1983 exchanged them with Pan Am for smaller aircraft; Delta Air Lines also removed its 747s from service after several years.

International flights that bypassed traditional hub airports and landed at smaller cities became more common throughout the 1980s, and this eroded the 747's original market. However, many international carriers continued to use the 747 on Pacific routes. In Japan, 747s on domestic routes are configured to carry close to the maximum passenger capacity.

Improved 747 versions
After the initial 747-100 model, Boeing developed the higher Maximum Takeoff Weight -100B variant and higher passenger capacity -100SR (Short Range) variant. Increased maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) can allow an aircraft to carry more fuel and have longer range. The -200 model followed, entering service in 1971. It featured more powerful engines and higher takeoff weight. Passenger, freighter and combination passenger-freighter versions were produced. The shortened 747SP (special performance) with a longer range was also developed in the mid-1970s.

The 747 line was further developed with the launching of the 747-300 in 1980. The -300 resulted from Boeing studies to increase the seating capacity of the 747. Solutions such as fuselage plugs and extending the upper deck over the entire length of the fuselage were rejected. The early designation of the -300 was 747SUD for "stretched upper deck", then 747-200 SUD, followed by 747EUD, before the 747-300 designation was used. The 300 model was first produced in 1983. It included a stretched upper deck (SUD), increased cruise speed and increased seating capacity. Passenger, short range and combination freighter-passenger versions were produced.

In 1985, development of the longer range 747-400 was begun. The new variant had a new glass cockpit, which allowed for a cockpit crew of two instead of three. Development cost soared, and production delays occurred as new technologies were incorporated at the request of airlines. Insufficient workforce experience and reliance on overtime contributed to early production problems on the 747-400. The -400 entered service in 1989.

In 1991, a record-breaking 1,087 passengers were airlifted aboard a 747 to Israel as part of Operation Solomon. The 747 was the heaviest airliner in regular service until the use of the Antonov An-124 Ruslan in 1982. The 747-400ER model regained that distinction in 2000. The Antonov An-225 cargo transport remains the world's largest aircraft by several measures (including the most accepted measures of maximum takeoff weight and length); one has been completed and is in service as of 2010. The Hughes H-4 Hercules is the largest aircraft by wingspan, but it only flew once.

Some 747 aircraft have been converted for special uses. Two 747-200Bs were modified for use as presidential transports, and are commonly known by the call sign, Air Force One. A 747-100 owned by General Electric is used as a testbed for their engines such as the General Electric GEnx. A firefighting version has been built by Evergreen International.

Future developments
Since the arrival of the 747-400, several stretching schemes for the 747 have been proposed. Boeing announced the larger 747-500X and -600X designs in 1996. The new variants would have cost more than $5 billion to develop, and interest was not sufficient to launch the program. Boeing offered the more modest 747X and 747X stretch derivatives in 2000 as alternatives to the Airbus A3XX. However, the 747X family was unable to attract enough interest to enter production. Boeing switched from the 747X studies to pursue the Sonic Cruiser in 2001 and, after the Sonic Cruiser program was put on hold, the 787. Some of the ideas developed for the 747X were used on the 747-400ER.

After several variants were proposed but later abandoned, some industry observers became skeptical of new aircraft proposals from Boeing. However, in early 2004, Boeing announced tentative plans for the 747 Advanced that were eventually adopted. Similar in nature to the 747-X, the stretched 747 Advanced used technology from the 787 to modernize the design and its systems. The 747 remained the largest passenger airliner in service until the Airbus A380 began airline service in 2007.

On 14 November 2005, Boeing announced it was launching the 747 Advanced as the Boeing 747-8. The last 747-400s were completed in 2009. As of 2010, most orders of the 747-8 have been for the freighter variant. On February 8, 2010, the 747-8 Freighter made its maiden flight. The first scheduled delivery of the 747-8 will be to Cargolux in late 2010.

Eventually, the 747 may be replaced in Boeing's lineup by a new design dubbed "Y3".


The Boeing 747 is a large, wide-body (two-aisle) airliner with four wing-mounted engines. The wings have a high sweep angle of 37.5 degrees for a fast, efficient cruise of Mach 0.84 to 0.88, depending on the variant. The sweep also allows the 747 to use existing hangars. Seating capacity is more than 366 with a 3-4-3 seat arrangement (a cross section of 3 seats, an aisle, 4 seats, another aisle, and 3 seats) in economy class and a 2-3-2 arrangement in first class on the main deck. The upper deck has a 3-3 seat arrangement in economy class and a 2-2 arrangement in first class.

Raised above the main deck, the cockpit creates a hump. The raised cockpit is to allow front loading of cargo on freight variants. The upper deck behind the cockpit provides space for a lounge or extra seating. The "stretched upper deck" became available as an option on the 747-100B variant and later as standard on the 747-300.

The 747's maximum takeoff weight ranges from 735,000 pounds (333,400 kg) for the -100 to 970,000 lb (439,985 kg) for the -8. Its range has increased from 5,300 nautical miles (6,100 mi, 9,800 km) on the -100 to 8,000 nmi (9,200 mi, 14,815 km) on the -8I.

The 747 has multiple structural redundancy including four redundant hydraulic systems and four main landing gears with 16 wheels each, which provide a good spread of support on the ground and safety in case of tire blow-outs. The redundant main gear allows for landing on two opposing landing gears if the others do not function properly. In addition, the 747 has split control surfaces and sophisticated triple-slotted flaps that minimize landing speeds and allow the 747 to use standard-length runways. For transportation of spare engines, 747s can accommodate a non-functioning fifth-pod engine under the port wing of the aircraft between the nearest functioning engine and the fuselage.


The 747-100 was the original variant launched in 1966. The 747-200 soon followed, with an order in 1968. The 747-300 was launched in 1980 and was followed in 1985 by the 747-400. Lastly, the 747-8 was announced in 2005. Several versions of each variant have been produced. Many of the early variants were in production simultaneously.

Pan Am was the first airline to operate the 747. The 747-100 pictured shows the original size of the upper deck and window layout
The first 747-100s were built with six upper-deck windows (three per side) to accommodate upstairs lounge areas. Later, as airlines began to use the upper-deck for premium passenger seating instead of lounge space, Boeing offered a 10-window upper deck as an option. Some -100s were retrofitted with the new configuration. No freighter version of this model was developed by Boeing. However, 747-100s have been converted to freighters. A total of 167 747-100s were built.

Responding to requests from Japanese airlines for a high-capacity aircraft to serve domestic routes between major cities, Boeing developed the 747SR as a "short range" variant of the 747-100. The 747SR had a lower fuel capacity but greater payload capability. With increased economy class seating, up to 498 passengers could be carried in early versions and more than 550 in later models. The 747SR had an "economic design life objective" of 52,000 flights during 20 years of airline operation, compared to 20,000 flights in 20 years for the standard 747. The initial 747SR model, the -100SR, had a strengthened body structure and undercarriage to accommodate the added stress accumulated from a greater number of takeoffs and landings. Extra structural support was built into the wings, fuselage, and the landing gear along with a 20% reduction in fuel capacity.

The initial order for the -100SR, four aircraft for Japan Air Lines (JAL, later Japan Airlines), was announced on October 30, 1972; rollout occurred on August 3, 1973, and the first flight took place on August 31, 1973. The type was certified by the FAA on September 26, 1973, with the first delivery on the same day. The -100SR entered service with JAL, the type's sole customer, on October 7, 1973, and typically operated Japanese domestic flights. Seven -100SRs were built from 1973 and 1975, each with a 520,000-pound (240,000 kg) MTOW and Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7A engines derated to 43,000 pounds-force (190,000 N) of thrust.

Following the -100SR, Boeing produced the -100BSR, a 747SR variant with increased takeoff weight capability. Debuting in 1978, the -100BSR also incorporated structural modifications for a high cycle-to-flying hour ratio; a related standard -100B model debuted in 1979. The -100BSR first flew on November 3, 1978, with first delivery to All Nippon Airways (ANA) on December 21, 1978. A total of twenty -100BSRs were produced for ANA and JAL. The -100BSR had a 600,000 lb MTOW and was powered by the same JT9D-7A engines used on the -100SR. ANA operated the type on domestic Japanese routes with 455-456 seats until retiring its last aircraft on March 10, 2006.

In 1986, two -100BSR SUD models, featuring the stretched upper deck (SUD) of the -300, were produced for JAL. The type's maiden flight occurred on February 26, 1986, with FAA certification and first delivery on March 24, 1986. JAL operated the -100BSR SUD with 563 seats on domestic routes until their retirement in the third quarter of 2006. While only two -100BSR SUDs were produced, in theory, standard -100Bs can be modified to the SUD certification. Overall, 29 747SRs were built, including seven -100SR, 20 -100BSR, and two -100BSR SUD models.

The 747-100B model was developed from the -100SR, utilizing its stronger airframe and undercarriage design. The type had an increased fuel capacity of 48,070 US gallons, allowing for a 5,000-nautical-mile (9,300 km; 5,800 mi) range with a typical 452-passenger payload, and an increased maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 750,000 lb (340,000 kg) was offered. The first -100B order, one aircraft for Iran Air, was announced on June 1, 1978. This aircraft first flew on June 20, 1979, received FAA certification on August 1, 1979, and was delivered the next day. Nine -100Bs were built, one for Iran Air and eight for Saudia (now Saudi Arabian Airlines). Unlike the original -100, the -100B was offered with General Electric CF6, Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7A, or Rolls-Royce RB211-524 engines. However, only RB211-524 (Saudia) and JT9D-7A (Iran Air) engines were ordered.

The idea for the 747SP came from a joint request between Pan American World Airways and Iran Air, who were looking for a high-capacity airliner with enough range to cover Pan Am's New York–Middle Eastern routes and Iran Air's planned Tehran–New York route. The Tehran–New York route when launched was the longest non-stop commercial flight in the world. The 747SP is 48 feet 4 inches (14.73 m) shorter than the 747-100. Fuselage sections were eliminated fore and aft of the wing, and the center section of the fuselage was redesigned. The SP's flaps used a simplified single-slotted configuration. The 747SP, compared to earlier variants, had a tapering of the aft upper fuselage into the empennage, a double-hinged rudder, and longer vertical and horizontal stabilizers.

The 747SP was granted a supplemental certificate on February 4, 1976 and entered service with Pan Am, the launch customer and Iran Air, that same year. The aircraft was chosen by airlines wishing to serve major airports with short runways.

A total of 45 747SPs were built. The 44th 747SP was delivered on August 30, 1982. Boeing re-opened the 747SP production line to build one last 747SP five years later in 1987 for an order by the United Arab Emirates government. In addition to airline use, one 747SP was modified for NASA Dryden Flight Research Center's SOFIA experiment.

Although the series 100 powered by JT9D-3A engines may have offered enough payload and range for US domestic operations, it was at best marginal for the needs of the airlines operating over long international route sectors. This demand for longer range aircraft with increased payload quickly led to improved series 200. The 747-200 has more powerful engines, higher takeoff weights (MTOW) and range than the -100. A few early -200s retained the three-window configuration of the -100 on the upper deck, but most were built with a 10-window configuration on each side.

Several variants of the -200 were produced. The 747-200B was the basic passenger version, with increased fuel capacity and more powerful engines; it first entered service in February 1971. The -200B aircraft has a full load range of about 6,857 nmi (12,700 km). The 747-200F is the freighter version of the -200 model. It could be fitted with or without a side cargo door. It has a capacity of 105 tons (95.3 tonnes) and an MTOW of up to 833,000 lb (378,000 kg). It first entered service in 1972 with Lufthansa. The 747-200C Convertible is a version that can be converted between a passenger and a freighter or used in mixed configurations. The seats are removable, and the model has a nose cargo door. The -200C could be fitted with an optional side cargo door on the main deck.

The 747-200M is a combination version that has a side cargo door on the main deck and can carry freight in the rear section of the main deck. A removable partition on the main deck separates the cargo area at the rear from the passengers at the front. This model can carry up to 238 passengers in a 3-class configuration if cargo is carried on the main deck. The model is also known as the 747-200 Combi. As on the -100, a stretched upper deck (SUD) modification was later offered. A total of 10 converted 747-200s were operated by KLM. Union des Transports Aériens (UTA) also had two of these aircraft converted.

The series 200 was powered by Pratt & Whitney engines (initially the only engine available) its first three years of production. Then on August 1, 1972 Boeing announced that it had reached an agreement with General Electric to certify the 747 with CF6-50 series engines to increase the aircraft's market potential. Rolls-Royce followed 747 engine production with a launch order from British Airways for four aircraft. The option of RB211-524B engines was announced on June 17, 1975. The series 200 was the first 747 to become available with a choice of engine manufacturer, which Boeing maintained for the type until the introduction of the 747-8.

A total of 393 of the 747-200 versions had been built when production ended in 1991. Of these, 225 were 747-200s, 73 were 747-200F, 13 were 747-200C, 78 were 747-200M, and 4 were military. Many 747-200s remain in operation, although most large carriers have retired them from their fleets and sold them to smaller operators. Large carriers have sped up fleet retirement following the September 11th attacks and the subsequent drop in demand for air travel, scrapping some or turning others into freighters.

The most visible difference between the -300 and previous models was a stretched upper deck with two new emergency exit doors and an optional flight-crew rest area immediately aft of the flight deck as standard. Compared to the -200, the upper deck is 23 feet 4 inches (7.11 m) longer. The stretched upper deck had previously been offered as a retrofit and first appeared on two Japanese 747-100SR aircraft.

The -300 has a new straight stairway to the upper deck instead of a spiral staircase on earlier variants. The staircase creates room below and above for more seats. With minor aerodynamic changes, Boeing increased the -300's cruise speed to Mach 0.85 from Mach 0.84 on the -200 and -100 models. The -300 features the same takeoff weight. For available engines on the -300, the Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce engine versions were unchanged from the -200, but the General Electric engine changed to the CF6-80C2B1 version.

The 747-300 name, which was proposed for a variant that was never launched, was revived for this version, which was introduced in 1980. Swissair ordered the first 747-300 on June 11, 1980. The 747-300 first flew on 5 October 1982. Swissair was the first customer to accept delivery on March 23, 1983.

In addition to the passenger version, other versions were available. The 747-300M has cargo capacity in the rear portion of the main deck similar to the -200M, but with the stretched upper deck it can carry more passengers. The 747-300SR is a short range version to meet the need for a high-capacity domestic model. Japan Airlines operated such aircraft with more than 600 seats on the Okinawa–Tokyo route and elsewhere. Boeing never launched a newly built freighter version of the 747-300, but it modified used passenger -300 models into freighters starting in 2000.

A total of 81 aircraft were delivered, 56 for passenger use, 21 -300M and 4 -300SR versions. The 747-300 was soon superseded by the more advanced 747-400 in 1985, just two years after the -300 entered service. The last 747-300 was delivered in September 1990 to Sabena.

Today, many -300 aircraft are still active, despite several large carriers that replaced their 747-300s with 747-400s. Air France, Air India, Pakistan International Airlines and Qantas were some of the last major carriers to operate the 747-300. On December 29, 2008, Qantas flew its last scheduled 747-300 service, operating from Melbourne to Los Angeles via Auckland.

The 747-400 is an improved model with increased range. It has wing-tip extensions of 6 ft (1.8 m) and winglets of 6 ft (1.8 m), which improve the 747-400's fuel efficiency by 4% compared to previous 747 versions. It has a new glass cockpit designed for a flight crew of two instead of three. The use of electronics reduced the number of dials, gauges and knobs from 971 to 365. It has tail fuel tanks, revised engines and a new interior. The longer range was used by some airlines to bypass traditional fuel stops, such as Anchorage.

The -400 was offered in passenger (-400), freighter (-400F), combi (-400C), domestic (-400D), extended range passenger (-400ER) and extended range freighter (-400ERF) versions. The freighter version does not have an extended upper deck. The 747-400D was built for short range operations and does not include winglets, but these can be retrofitted.

The passenger version first entered service in February 1989 with launch customer Northwest Airlines on the Minneapolis to Phoenix route. The combi version entered service in September 1989 with KLM. The freighter version entered service in November 1993 with Cargolux. The 747-400ERF entered service in October 2002 and the 747-400ER entered service the following month with Qantas, the only airline ever to order the passenger version. Some of the last built Boeing 747-400s were delivered with Dreamliner livery along with the modern Signature interior from the Boeing 777.

In January 2004 Boeing and Cathay Pacific launched the Boeing 747-400 Special Freighter program, later referred to as the Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF). The first 747-400BCF was redelivered in December 2005.

The last passenger version of the 747-400 was delivered in April 2005 to China Airlines. Boeing announced in March 2007 that it had no plans to produce further passenger versions of the -400. However, orders for 36 -400F and -400ERF freighters were already in place at the time of the announcement. A total of 694 of the 747-400 series aircraft had been delivered. At various times, the largest operator of the 747-400 has been Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, or British Airways.

747 LCF Dreamlifter
The 747-400 Dreamlifter (originally called the 747 Large Cargo Freighter or LCF) is a Boeing-designed modification of existing 747-400s to a larger configuration to ferry Boeing 787 sub-assemblies to the Boeing plant in Everett, Washington, for final assembly. Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corporation of Taiwan is completing modifications of 747-400s into Dreamlifters in Taiwan. The aircraft flew for the first time on September 9, 2006. The Dreamlifter's only intended purpose is to transport sub-assemblies for the Boeing 787. The aircraft is certified to carry only essential crew and not passengers. Modification of four aircraft was completed by February 2010.

Boeing announced a new 747 variant, the 747-8 (referred to as the 747 Advanced prior to launch) on 14 November 2005. The variant will use the same engine and cockpit technology as the 787, hence the use of the "8". Plans call for the new design to be quieter, more economical and more environmentally friendly. The 747-8's fuselage was stretched from 232 to 251 feet (70.8 to 76.4 m). When the 747-8 enters service, it will surpass the Airbus A340-600 as the world's longest airliner.

The passenger version, dubbed 747-8 Intercontinental or 747-8I, will be able to carry up to 467 passengers in a 3-class configuration and fly more than 8,000 nmi (15,000 km) at Mach 0.855. As a derivative of the already common 747-400, the 747-8 has the economic benefit of similar training and interchangeable parts. The 747-8I is scheduled to enter service in 2010.

Also offered is the 747-8 Freighter or 747-8F, which derives from the 747-400ERF. The 747-8F can accommodate 154 tons (140 tonnes) of cargo. To aid loading and unloading, it features an overhead nose-door. It has 16 percent more payload capacity than the 747-400F and can hold seven additional standard air cargo containers. The 747-8F was scheduled to enter service in 2009.

Several units are under construction at Boeing's Everett facility. The 747-8 has received 109 total orders with 76 for the -8F, 32 for the -8I and 1 for the -8VIP as of June 2010.

Government, military and other variants

  • C-19 – The U.S. Air Force gave this designation to the 747-100s used by some U.S. airlines and modified for use in the Civil Reserve Airlift Fleet.
  • VC-25 – This aircraft is the U.S. Air Force Very Important Person (VIP) version of the 747-200B. The U.S. Air Force operates two of them in VIP configuration as the VC-25A. Tail numbers 28000 and 29000 are popularly known as Air Force One, which is technically the air-traffic call sign for any United States Air Force aircraft carrying the U.S. President. Although based on the 747-200B design, they include several innovations introduced on the 747-400. Partially completed aircraft from Everett, Washington, were flown to Wichita, Kansas, for final outfitting.
  • E-4B – Formerly known as the National Emergency Airborne Command Post (referred to colloquially as "Kneecap"), this aircraft is now referred to as the National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC).
  • YAL-1 – This is the experimental Airborne Laser, a component of the National Missile Defense plan.
  • Shuttle Carrier Aircraft – Two 747s were modified to carry the Space Shuttle. One is a 747-100 (N905NA), and the other is a 747-100SR (N911NA). An SCA carried the Space Shuttle Enterprise in the late 1970s, and has since carried all Space Shuttles.
  • A number of other governments also use the 747 as a VIP transport, including Bahrain, Brunei, India, Iran, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Several new Boeing 747-8s have been ordered by Boeing Business Jet for conversion to VIP transport for several unidentified customers.
  • C-33 – This aircraft was a proposed U.S. military version of the 747-400 intended to augment the C-17 fleet. The plan was canceled in favor of additional C-17 military transports.
  • KC-33A – A proposed 747 was also adapted as an aerial refueling tanker and was bid against the DC-10-30 during the 1970s Advanced Cargo Transport Aircraft (ACTA) program that produced the KC-10A Extender. Before the Khomeini-led revolution, Iran bought four 747-100 aircraft with air-refueling boom conversions to support a fleet of F-4 Phantoms. It is unknown whether these aircraft remain usable as tankers. Since then, other proposals have emerged for adaptation of later 747-400 aircraft for this role.
  • 747 CMCA – This variant was considered by the U.S. Air Force as a Cruise Missile Carrier Aircraft during the development of the B-1 Lancer strategic bomber. It would have been equipped with 50 to 100 AGM-86 ALCM cruise missiles on rotary launchers. This plan was abandoned in favor of more conventional strategic bombers.
  • 747 AAC – Boeing also considered developing the 747 into an aerial aircraft carrier for up to ten "microfighters". With a double-decker hangar and two launching bays, it was believed that the scheme might actually be cheaper than establishing a short-term land base. However nothing came of the scheme, or its complementary 747 AWACS version, which would have carried two of the "microfighters" for reconnaissance.
  • Evergreen 747 Supertanker - A Boeing 747-200 modified as an aerial application platform for fire fighting using 20,000 US gallons (76,000 L) of firefighting chemicals.

Undeveloped variants

Boeing has studied a number of 747 variants that have not gone beyond the concept stage.

747 trijet
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Boeing studied the development of a shorter 747 with three-engines to compete with the smaller L-1011 TriStar and DC-10. The 747 trijet would have had more payload, range and passenger capacity. The center engine would have been fitted in the tail with an S-duct intake similar to the L-1011's. However, engineering studies showed that a total redesign of the 747 wing would be necessary. Maintaining the same 747 handling characteristics would be important to minimize pilot retraining. Boeing decided instead to pursue a shortened four-engine 747 that resulted in the 747SP. In the 1990s, the Boeing 777, a long range twinjet airliner smaller than the 747-400 entered service in the market where the 747-300 had been targeted.

747-500X, -600X and -700X
Boeing announced the 747-500X and -600X at the 1996 Farnborough Airshow. The proposed models would have combined the 747's fuselage with a new 251 ft (77 m) span wing derived from the 777. Other changes included adding more powerful engines and increasing the number of tires from two to four on the nose landing gear and from 16 to 20 on the main landing gear.

The 747-500X concept featured an increased fuselage length of 18 ft (5.5 m) to 250 ft (76.2 m) long, and the aircraft was to carry 462 passengers over a range up to 8,700 nautical miles (10,000 mi, 16,100 km), with a gross weight of over 1.0 Mlb (450 Mg). The 747-600X concept featured a greater stretch to 279 ft (85 m) with seating for 548 passengers, a range of up to 7,700 nmi (8,900 mi, 14,300 km), and a gross weight of 1.2 Mlb (540 Mg). A third study concept, the 747-700X, would have combined the wing of the 747-600X with a widened fuselage, allowing it to carry 650 passengers over the same range as a 747-400. The cost of the changes from previous 747 models, in particular the new wing for the 747-500X and -600X, was estimated to be more than $5 billion. Boeing was not able to attract enough interest to launch the aircraft.

747X and 747X Stretch
As Airbus progressed with its A3XX study, Boeing in 2000 offered the market a 747 derivative as an alternative. This was a more modest proposal than the previous -500X and -600X that would retain the 747's overall wing design and add a segment at the root, increasing the span to 229 ft (69.8 m). Power would have been supplied by either the Engine Alliance GP7172 or the Rolls-Royce Trent 600, which were also proposed for the 767-400ERX. A new flight deck based on the 777's would be used. The 747X aircraft was to carry 430 passengers over ranges of up to 8,700 nmi (10,000 mi, 16,100 km). The 747X Stretch would be extended to 263 ft (80.2 m) long, allowing it to carry 500 passengers over ranges of up to 7,800 nmi (9,000 mi, 14,500 km). Both would feature an interior based on the 777's signature architecture. Freighter versions of the 747X and 747X Stretch were also studied.

Like its predecessor, the 747X family was unable to garner enough interest to justify production, and it was shelved along with the 767-400ERX in March 2001, when Boeing announced the Sonic Cruiser concept. Though the 747X design was less costly than the 747-500X and -600X, it was criticized for not offering a sufficient advance from the existing 747-400. The 747X did not make it beyond the drawing board, but the 747-400X being developed concurrently moved into production to become the 747-400ER.

After the end of the 747X program, Boeing continued to study improvements that could be made to the 747. The 747-400XQLR (Quiet Long Range) was meant to have an increased range of 7,980 nmi (9,200 mi, 14,800 km), with improvements to boost efficiency and reduce noise. Improvements studied included raked wingtips similar to those used on the 767-400ER and a sawtooth engine nacelle for noise reduction. Although the 747-400XQLR did not move to production, many of its features were used for the 747 Advanced, which has now been launched as the 747-8.


Current Operators
(as of August 2009)

India Air India 14
Spain Air Pullmantur 3
Argentina Aerolíneas Argentinas 3
Bolivia Aerosur 1
Iceland Air Atlanta Icelandic 19
Russia AirBridgeCargo Airlines 4
Germany Air Cargo Germany 2
People's Republic of China Air China 22
France Air France 28
New Zealand Air New Zealand 7
Fiji Air Pacific 2
Saudi Arabia Al Wafeer Air 3
Japan All Nippon Airways 23
South Korea Asiana Airlines 13
United States Atlas Air 21
Armenia Blue Sky 8
United Kingdom British Airways 57
United States Boeing 3 - B747 LCF
Israel CAL Cargo Air Lines 2
Luxembourg Cargolux 28
Hong Kong Cathay Pacific 48
Republic of China China Airlines 33
People's Republic of China China Cargo Airlines 2
People's Republic of China China Southern Airlines 2
France Corsairfly 8
United States Delta Air Lines 16
Israel El Al 8
United Arab Emirates Emirates SkyCargo 17
Ethiopia Ethiopian Airlines 2
Republic of China EVA Airways 18
United States Evergreen International Aviation 1
Indonesia Garuda Indonesia 3
United States General Electric 1
United Kingdom Global Supply Systems 3
Bahrain Government of Bahrain 2
Japan Government of Japan 2
Oman Government of Oman 2
United Arab Emirates Government of Dubai 3
United Arab Emirates Government of Abu Dhabi 2
People's Republic of China Grandstar Cargo 1
People's Republic of China Great Wall Airlines 3
Greece Hellenic Imperial Airways 6
Iran Iran Air 9
Iran Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force 13
People's Republic of China Jade Cargo International 7
Japan Japan Airlines 57
Singapore Jett8 Airlines Cargo 1
Nigeria Kabo Air 5
United States Kalitta Air 19
Saudi Arabia Kingdom Holding Company 1
Netherlands KLM 26
South Korea Korean Air 44
Kuwait Kuwait Airways 1
United States Las Vegas Sands Group 2
Indonesia Lion Air 2
Germany Lufthansa 30
Iran Mahan Air 8
Ghana MK Airlines 5
Malaysia Malaysia Airlines 17
Netherlands Martinair 4
Nigeria Max Air 1
Japan Nippon Cargo Airlines 10
Thailand One-Two-GO Airlines 7
Thailand Orient Thai Airlines 6
Pakistan Pakistan International Airlines 6
Philippines Philippine Airlines 5
Thailand Phuket Airlines 8
United States Polar Air Cargo 6
Spain Pronair 1
Australia Qantas 34
South Korea Republic of Korea Air Force 1
Morocco Royal Air Maroc 1
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian Airlines 22
Singapore Singapore Airlines 9
Greece Sky Express 1
South Africa South African Airways 1
United States Southern Air 13
Republic of Macedonia Star Airlines 2
Brunei Sultan of Brunei 1
Angola TAAG Angola Airlines 3
Thailand Thai Airways International 20
Belgium TNT Airways 4
Russia Transaero Airlines 12
United States United Airlines 24
United States United Parcel Service 9
United States U.S. Government (U.S. Air Force) 7
United States U.S. Government (NASA) 3
United Kingdom Virgin Atlantic 13
United States World Airways 2
People's Republic of China Yangtze River Express 3
Yemen Yemenia 1
Previous Operators
(as of August 2009)
Republic of Ireland Aer Lingus (3)
Dominican Republic Aeromar (1)
Côte d'Ivoire Air Afrique (3)
Algeria Air Algérie (13)
Canada Air Canada (15)
Gabon Air Gabon (1)
United Kingdom Airfreight Express (6)
Swaziland Air Gulf Falcon (3)
Hong Kong Air Hong Kong (11)
Jamaica Air Jamaica (1)
Sri Lanka Air Lanka (2)
Madagascar Air Madagascar (1)
Mauritius Air Mauritius (5)
Namibia Air Namibia (7)
Senegal Air Orange (1)
Thailand Air Siam (3)
Jordan Air Universal (6)
Italy Alitalia (19)
United States American Airlines (27)
United States America West (6)
Turkey Ankair (1)
Australia Ansett Australia (7)
Afghanistan Ariana Afghan Airlines (2)
Colombia Avianca (7)
Bangladesh Biman (1)
United States Braniff International (13)
United Kingdom British Caledonian (4)
United Kingdom British Overseas Airways Corporation 15
Libya Buraq Air 1
Cameroon Cameroon Airlines (2)
Canada Canadian Airlines (4)
Canada Canadian Pacific (4)
Canada CP Air (4)
Belgium Cargo B Airlines 2
United States Cargo 360 2
Germany Condor Airlines (4)
United States Continental Airlines 17
Dominican Republic Dominicana de Aviación (2)
Hong Kong Dragonair 6
United Kingdom European Aviation Air Charter (6)
United States Eastern Airlines (4)
Egypt EgyptAir (2)
United States Federal Express (21)
United States Flying Tiger Lines (21)
United States Focus Air Cargo (5)
Germany German Cargo 3
Spain Girjet (1)
Bangladesh GMG Airlines (1)
Comoros Grand Comoros (1)
Bahrain Gulf Air (3)
United States Hawaii Express (1)
United Kingdom Highland Express Airways (1)
Spain Iberia (25)
Indonesia Indonesian Airlines (2)
Iraq Iraqi Airways (4) - incl. 1 for Gov. use
Algeria Khalifa Airways 1
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Airlines (1) - for Gov. use
Chile LAN Airlines (1)
Libya Libyan Arab Airlines (1)
Germany LTU International (1)
Luxembourg Luxair (3)
Republic of China Mandarin Airlines (5)
Lebanon Middle East Airlines (3)
Nigeria Nigeria Airways (19)
United States Northwest Airlines (16) - Merged with Delta
Italy Ocean Airlines (4)
Greece Olympic Airlines (6)
United States Pan American World Airways (72)
United States People Express (11)
Qatar Qatar Airways (1)
Jordan Royal Jordanian Airlines (3)
Belgium Sabena (4)
DenmarkNorwaySweden Scandinavian Airlines System (10)
United States Seaboard World Airlines (9)
Suriname Surinam Airways 1
Switzerland Swissair (7)
Syria Syrian Arab Airlines (2)
Tajikistan Tajik Air (1)
Portugal TAP Portugal (4)
United States Tower Air (44)
United States Tradewinds Airlines 6
Lebanon Trans Mediterranean Airways (TAM) (3)
United States Trans World Airlines (21)
United Kingdom Travel City Direct 4
France Union des Transports Aériens (9)
Brazil Varig (12)
Venezuela Viasa 1
Canada Wardair (4)

Summary of deliveries (March 2010)

Model First Delivery Last Delivery Total Delivered
Date Customer Date Customer
December 13, 1969 Pan Am July 2, 1976 Pan Am 167
September 26, 1973 Japan Airlines April 2, 1975 Japan Airlines 7
December 21, 1978 All Nippon Airways November 12, 1982 All Nippon Airways 20
August 2, 1979 Iran Air April 2, 1982 Saudi Arabian Airlines 9
747-100B SUD
March 24, 1986 Japan Airlines September 9, 1986 Japan Airlines 2
Total 747-100 Series: 205
January 16, 1971 KLM December 20, 1990 USAF 229
747-200F (Freighter)
March 10, 1972 Lufthansa November 19, 1991 Nippon Cargo Airlines 73
747-200C (Convertble)
April 30, 1973 World Airways September 26, 1988 Martin Air 13
747-200M (Combi)
March 7, 1975 Air Canada April 5, 1988 Iberia Airlines 78
Total 747-200 Series: 393
March 5, 1976 Pan Am December 9, 1989 Abu Dhabi Govt. (UAE) 45
Total 747SP: 45
March 1, 1983 UTA October 18, 1988 Japan Asia 56
747-300M (Combi)
March 5, 1983 Swissair September 25, 1990 Sabena 21
December 10, 1987 Japan Airlines February 19, 1988 Japan Airlines 4
Total 747-300 Series: 81
January 26, 1989 Northwest Airlines April 26, 2005 China Airlines 442
747-400M (Combi)
September 1, 1989 KLM April 10, 2002 KLM 61
October 10, 1991 Japan Airlines December 11, 1995 All Nippon Aiways 19
November 17, 1993 Cargolux May 7, 2009 Nippon Cargo Airlines 126
October 17, 2002 Air France November 10, 2009 LoadAir Cargo 40
October 31, 2002 Qantas July 30, 2003 Qantas 6
Total 747-400 Series: 694
Total 747-8 Series:  
Total Delivered (All series): 1,418

Accidents and incidents

As of September 2010, the 747 has been involved in 124 incidents, including 49 hull-loss accidents, resulting in 2,852 fatalities. The 747 has been in 31 hijackings, which caused 25 fatalities.

Few crashes have been attributed to design flaws of the 747. The Tenerife disaster resulted from pilot error, air traffic control (ATC) error and communications failure, while the Japan Airlines Flight 123 and China Airlines Flight 611 crashes stemmed from improper aircraft repair. United Airlines Flight 811, which suffered an explosive decompression mid-flight on 24 February 1989, led the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to issue a recommendation that 747-200 cargo doors similar to those on the Flight 811 aircraft be modified. Korean Air Lines Flight 007 was shot down by the Soviets in 1983 after it had strayed into Soviet territory, causing U.S. President Ronald Reagan to authorize the then-strictly military Global Positioning System (GPS) for civilian use. TWA Flight 800, a 747-100 that exploded in midair on July 17, 1996, led the Federal Aviation Administration to propose a rule requiring installation of an inerting system in the center fuel tank of most large aircraft that was adopted in July 2008, after years of research into solutions. It is expected that the new safety system will cost $100,000 to $450,000 per aircraft and weigh approximately 200 pounds (91 kg).

Boeing 747 hull losses

  • 1970
    The first hull loss of a Boeing 747 was the result of terrorism. On 6 September 1970 an almost-new Pan American World Airways aircraft flying from Amsterdam to New York as Pan Am Flight 93 was hijacked and flown first to Beirut, then to Cairo. Shortly after the occupants were evacuated from the aircraft after arriving at Cairo it was blown up.
  • 1973
    The second loss was very similar to the first. Japan Airlines Flight 404 was hijacked on a flight from Amsterdam to Anchorage, Alaska on 23 July 1973. It flew to Dubai, then Damascus, before ending its journey at Benina International Airport in Libya. The occupants were released and the aircraft was blown up. One of the hijackers was killed.
  • 1974
    The first crash of a 747 took place on 20 November 1974, when Lufthansa Flight 540 crashed moments after taking off from Nairobi, killing 59 people. The cause was operator error leading to a stall.
  • 1976
    On 9 May 1976 Flight ULF48, a 747 freighter of the Imperial Iranian Air Force crashed near Madrid due to the structural failure of its left wing in flight, killing the seventeen people on board. The accident investigation determined that a lightning strike had caused an explosion in a fuel tank in the wing, leading to flutter and the separation of the wing.
  • 1977
    On 27 March 1977 the highest death toll in any aviation accident in history (as of 2010) occurred when KLM 4805 collided on the runway with Pan American World Airways 1736 in heavy fog at Tenerife Airport, resulting in 583 fatalities. Both aircraft were Boeing 747s.
  • 1978
    Air India Flight 855 crashed into the sea off the coast of Mumbai (Bombay) on New Year's Day, 1978. All passengers and crew were killed. Many residents of seafront houses in Mumbai witnessed the disaster. The cause was lack of situation awareness on the captain's part after executing a banked turn.
  • 1983
    Korean Air Lines Flight 007, a 747-200B from New York City to Seoul via Anchorage, Alaska and Tokyo, was shot down just west of Sakhalin Island by the Soviet Air Force on 1 September 1983. All 269 passengers and crew aboard were killed.
  • 1983
    Avianca Flight 011, a 747-200 flying from Paris to Bogotá via Madrid, crashed into a mountainside on 27 November 1983 due to a navigational error, killing 181 people. It was maneuvering to land at Madrid Barajas International Airport.
  • 1985
    Air India Flight 182, a 747-200B, en route from Montreal to New Delhi, was blown up in midair off the Southwest coast of Ireland by a bomb on 23 June 1985 . All 329 on board were killed. Until the September 11 attacks of 2001 the Air India bombing was the single deadliest terrorist attack involving aircraft. It remains "worst mass murder in Canadian history."
  • 1985
    An inadequate repair resulted in the loss of a 747SR (SR meaning Short Range) flying as Japan Airlines Flight 123 on 12 August 1985. Most of the aircraft's vertical stabilizer was blown apart while the aircraft was at cruising altitude, after the rear pressure bulkhead failed. The pilots kept it in the air for 32 minutes but it eventually crashed, causing 520 fatalities. It is the worst single-aircraft accident in aviation history.
  • 1987
    South African Airways Flight 295, a 747-200BSCD "Combi" en route from Taipei to Johannesburg on 28 November 1987, crashed into the ocean off Mauritius after a fire in the rear cargo hold during the flight resulted in loss of control. The board of enquiry alerted the aviation community to the lack of fire detection and fire-fighting facilities used on the "Combi" 747 B-Class cargo bay which were, to quote the official report "...woefully inadequate..." (Source: Official Report of the Board of Enquiry in to the Loss of ZS-SAS ISBN 0-620-13030-3). Boeing and the FAA had relied on regulations that had changed little since propeller driven airliners made use of B-class cargo bays to accommodate the larger volume and varied contents of a "Combi" cargo bay. Boeing contested the findings with some vigour. The board held by its view, however, and this is one of the very few accidents due to inadequate design and testing of a 747 variant. All 159 people on board were killed.
  • 1988
    Pan Am Flight 103, a 747-100, disintegrated in mid-air on 21 December 1988 due to a terrorist bomb in the luggage hold; the wings, with their tanks full of fuel, landed on Lockerbie, Scotland. The 259 people on board and 11 people in Lockerbie were killed. A Libyan national was eventually convicted of destroying the aircraft.
  • 1989
    On 19 February 1989, a 747-100F operating as Flying Tiger Flight 66 was flying an Non-directional beacon (NDB) approach to Runway 33 at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, Kuala Lumpur, when the aircraft hit a hillside 600 ft above sea level, killing all four people on board.
  • 1990
    British Airways Flight 149 was a 747-100 flying from London Heathrow Airport in London to Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Kuala Lumpur with a stopover in Kuwait. The aircraft landed at Kuwait International Airport on 1 August 1990, four hours after the Gulf War broke out. All 385 passengers and crew were taken hostage by Iraqi forces; one was murdered but the others were released. The aircraft was subsequently blown up.
  • 1992
    El Al Flight 1862 was a cargo 747-200F that crashed shortly after departure from Amsterdam Schiphol on 4 October 1992. Engines 3 and 4 detached after takeoff as a result of metal fatigue prior to overload failure arising out of inadequate design; as a result the flight crew lost control and the crippled 747 crashed into the Klein-Kruitberg apartments in Bijlmermeer at high speed. The sole passenger and all three crew were killed as well as 39 on the ground.
  • 1993
    China Airlines Flight 605 was a brand new 747-400 that that touched down too far down the runway while landing at the old Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong. The aircraft overshot the runway and came to a stop in the harbor. All occupants were evacuated safely. The vertical fin of the aircraft was later removed with explosives to avoid interference with airport operations.
  • 1996
    TWA Flight 800, a 747-100 bound for Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, exploded during its climb from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on 17 July 1996, killing all 230 people. A spark from a wire in the center fuel tank was the culprit, although several alternative theories have persisted. Changes in fuel tank management were adopted after the crash.
  • 1996
    Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 763, a 747-100B, collided in midair over India with Air Kazakhstan Flight 1907, an Ilyushin Il-76 on 12 November 1996, killing all 349 occupants of both aircraft, more fatalities than any other mid-air collision in history.
  • 1997
    Korean Air Flight 801, a 747-300, crashed into a hillside on 6 August 1997 while on approach to Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport on the island of Guam, killing all but 26 of its passengers.
  • 1999
    Korean Air Cargo flight 8509, a 747-200F from London Stansted Airport to Milan on 22 December 1999, was destroyed when it crashed shortly after take-off, killing all four crew. The captain of the aircraft had flown the aircraft according to erroneous indications on his attitude indicator.
  • 2000
    Singapore Airlines Flight 006, a 747-400 flying from Singapore to Los Angeles via Taipei, crashed into construction equipment on 31 October 2000 while attempting to take off from a closed runway at Taipei's Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. It caught fire and was destroyed, killing 79 passengers and three crew members.
  • 2001
    An MK Airlines cargo flight, a Boeing 747-246F, crashed about 700m short of the runway near Port Harcourt Airport, Nigeria on November 27, 2001. Of the 13 on board, 1 died.
  • 2002
    China Airlines Flight 611, a 747-200B, broke apart mid-flight on 25 May 2002, en route to Hong Kong International Airport from Chiang Kai-shek International Airport in Taipei. All on board lost their lives. Metal fatigue at the site of a previous repair was cited as a cause.
  • 2004
    MK Airlines Flight 1602, a 747-200F, crashed while attempting to take off from Halifax Stanfield International Airport on 14 October 2004. The aircraft's take-off weight had been incorrectly calculated, and the plane was only briefly airborne before impacting an earthen berm at the end of the runway. The seven-member crew was killed.
  • 2008
    A Kalitta Air 747-200F broke in three when it overran Runway 20 at Brussels Airport, Belgium on 25 May 2008 on departure for Bahrain International Airport. The five crew members were uninjured.
  • 2008
    Another Kalitta Air 747-200F crashed into a farm field near the small village of Madrid, Colombia shortly after takeoff from El Dorado International Airport on 7 July 2008. The crew had reported an engine fire and were attempting to return to the airport. One of the aircraft's engines hit a farmhouse, killing three people inside.
  • 2010
    UPS Airlines Flight 6, a 747-400F, crashed close to Dubai International Airport, killing two crew members.

Aircraft on display

As increasing numbers of "classic" 747-100 and 747-200 series aircraft have been retired, some have found their way into museums or other uses. The City of Everett, the first 747 and prototype is at the Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington, USA where it is sometimes leased to Boeing for test purposes.

Other 747s in museums include those at the National Aviation Theme Park Aviodrome, Lelystad, Netherlands; the Qantas Founders Outback Museum, Longreach, Queensland, Australia; Rand Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa; Technik Museum Speyer, Speyer, Germany; Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace, Paris, France; Tehran Aerospace Exhibition, Tehran, Iran; Jeongseok Aviation Center, Jeju, South Korea, and the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.

Upon its retirement from service, the 747 number two in the production line was dis-assembled and shipped to Namyangju, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea where it was re-assembled and converted into a restaurant in Mokpo City, South Korea. It was originally flown commercially by Pan Am as N747PA "Clipper Juan T. Trippe". It was also involved in a tailstrike accident once. It was repaired and stayed with the airline until the airline went bankrupt. As of April 2009, the 747 restaurant is closed and abandoned. The Jumbohostel, using a converted 747-200, opened at Arlanda Airport, Stockholm on January 15, 2009.


  747-100B 747-200B 747-300 747-400
Cockpit Crew Three Two
Typical seating capacity 452 (2-class)
366 (3-class)
496 (2-class)
412 (3-class)
524 (2-class)
416 (3-class)
467 (3-class)
Length 231 ft 10 in (70.6 m) 250 ft 2 in (76.3 m)
Interior cabin width 20 feet (6.1 m)
Wingspan 195 ft 8 in (59.6 m) 211 ft 5 in (64.4 m) 224 ft 7 in (68.5 m)
Tail height 63 ft 5 in (19.3 m) 63 ft 8 in (19.4 m) 63 ft 6 in (19.4 m)
Operating empty weight 358,000 lb
(162,400 kg)
383,000 lb
(174,000 kg)
392,800 lb
(178,100 kg)
393,263 lb
(178,756 kg)
ER: 406,900 lb
(184,600 kg)
472,900 lb
(214,503 kg)
Maximum takeoff weight 735,000 lb
(333,390 kg)
833,000 lb
(377,842 kg)
875,000 lb
(396,890 kg)
ER: 910,000 lb
(412,775 kg)
975,000 lb
(442,253 kg)
Cruising speed
(at 35,000 ft altitude)
Mach 0.84
(555 mph, 893 km/h, 481 knots )
Mach 0.85
(567 mph, 913 km/h, 493 kn)
ER: Mach 0.855
(570 mph, 918 km/h, 495 kn)
Mach 0.855
(570 mph, 918 km/h, 495 kn)
Maximum speed Mach 0.89
(594 mph, 955 km/h, 516 kn)
Mach 0.92
(614 mph, 988 km/h, 533 kn)
Required runway at MTOW* 10,466 ft (3,190 m) 10,893 ft (3,320 m) 9,902 ft (3,018 m)
ER: 10,138 ft (3,090 m)
10,138 ft (3,090 m)
Maximum range
5,300 nmi
(9,800 km)
6,850 nmi
(12,700 km)
6,700 nmi
(12,400 km)
7,260 nmi
(13,450 km)
ER: 7,670 nmi
(14,205 km)
8,000 nmi
(14,815 km)
Max. fuel capacity 48,445 U.S. gal
(40,339 imp gal/183,380 L)
52,410 U.S. gal
(43,640 imp gal/199,158 L)
57,285 U.S. gal
(47,700 imp gal/216,840 L)
ER: 63,705 U.S. gal
(53,045 imp gal/241,140 L)
64,225 U.S. gal
(53,478 imp gal/243,120 L)
Engine models (x 4) PW JT9D-7A/-7F/-7J
RR RB211-524B2
GE CF6-50E2
RR RB211-524D4
GE CF6-80C2B1
RR RB211-524D4
PW 4062
GE CF6-80C2B5F
RR RB211-524G/H
ER: GE CF6-80C2B5F
Engine thrust (per engine) PW 46,500 lbf
(207 kN)
RR 50,100 lbf
(223 kN)
PW 54,750 lbf (244 kN)
GE 52,500 lbf (234 kN)
RR 53,000 lbf
(236 kN)
PW 54,750 lbf
(244 kN)
GE 55,640 lbf
(247 kN)
RR 53,000 lbf (236 kN)
PW 63,300 lbf (282 kN)
GE 62,100 lbf (276 kN)
RR 59,500/60,600 lbf (265/270 kN)
ER: GE 62,100 lbf
(276 kN)
66,500 lbf
(296 kN)

Notable appearances in media

Following its debut, the 747 rapidly achieved iconic status, appearing in various film productions such as the Airport series of disaster films, Air Force One and Executive Decision. The 747 was also referenced in the Earth, Wind & Fire song Let's Groove.

Last updated September 18, 2010
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Boeing 747".
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