Monday, September 1, 2008


Boeing's 747 made its inaugural flight on February 9, 1969.
The 747's enormous size, along with its signature fuselage "hump," has made it the most recognized commercial jet airliner in the world. But the plane almost never got off the drawing boards. Just as Boeing agreed in 1965 to develop the 747 at Pan Am's urging, the Lyndon Johnson Administration embarked on a national austerity program. Pan Am's Juan Trippe personally intervened on the plane's behalf, convincing President Johnson that the 747's continued development was indeed in the nation's best interests, even during times of economic distress. Among the arguments for its survival was the fact that the enormous plane's economy of scale would allow more people to fly for less money.

The "Everyman Plane," as it was dubbed, has been so successful that four different versions of the 747 have been produced over the past three decades since the plane was first introduced. More than 1,200 747s have been delivered since Pan Am became the first airliner to put the jet into service on its New York-to-London route in 1970. Among the most noteworthy 747s were the two delivered in 1990 to serve as the United States' official presidential air transport - Air Force One.

More than 30 years after its introduction, the 747 remains the world's largest commercial passenger jet, able to accommodate as many as 490 passengers.The Boeing 747 truly represents the current peak of passenger aircraft development. At 150 feet, the 747's economy section alone is longer than the Wright Brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk. It is the largest passenger jet currently in service, seating up to 524 people. With a width of over 19 feet, the 747 appears from inside the cabin to be enclosed by nearly vertical fuselage walls. The plane can stay aloft for 17-hour flights, storing fuel in the tail structure as well as in the wings and fuselage. With a range of 8,430 statute miles, the 747 can easily connect such far-flung cities as Los Angeles-to-Hong Kong, San Francisco-to-Sydney and Singapore-to-London.

The Boeing 747 was honored with a United States postage stamp as one of the most significant technological advances of the 20th Century - along with the Wright Brothers' first flight and Charles Lindbergh's crossing of the Atlantic. To compete with Airbus' double-decker passenger jet, the A380, Boeing has on the drawing board two new 747s - the 747X and the 747X Stretch. The X-model will have a maximum seating capacity of 442 and be able to travel more than 10,300 miles. The stretch-type would be able to carry its 522 passengers 9,000 miles. If development continues as planned, either of these planes could take to the skies as early as 2005.


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December 12, 2011 at 8:37 AM  

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