Boeing 747

Background Engines Development Variants History Design Operators Specifications

Seating Capacity (747-8)



Fuel Capacity (747 -8)

238,610 L


Max Engine Thrust (747 -8)

296 kN (66,500 lbf)


Service Ceiling

45,100 ft (13,746m)

A British Airways Boeing 747 Just after takeoff.


The US Air Force began a series of research programmes on a very large strategic transport aircraft in 1963. The CX-Heavy Logistics System (CX-HLS) was first requested in March 1964, with a load capacity of 180,000 pounds (81.6 t) and a speed of Mach 0.75 (500 mph or 800 km/h). Despite the introduction of the C-141 Starlifter, officials considered that a far larger and more capable aircraft was required, particularly for transporting cargo that would not fit in any current aircraft. The airframe was awarded study contracts to Boeing, Douglas, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, and Martin Marietta. The engines were proposed by General Electric, Curtiss-Wright, and Pratt & Whitney. The nose door and raised cockpit elements were carried over to the 747 design by Boeing. Because the CX-HLS needed to be loaded from the front, a door was added where the cockpit would normally be. Lockheed's aircraft design and General Electric's engine design were chosen in 1965 for the new C-5 Galaxy transport, which at the time was the world's largest military aircraft.

A photograph of a boeing 747-100 engine, photo from flickr by Bill Abbott


Photo By Bill Abbott on Flickr.

The 747 is a quadjet, with JT9D turbofan engines at first, then GE CF6 and Rolls-Royce RB211 engines for the first variants. It normally seats 366 passengers in three travel classes, with ten-abreast economy seating.

A photograph of a beoing 747 production facility found on flickr by Seattle Municipal Archives


Photo By Seattle Municipal Archives on Flickr.

Boeing chose to build a new facility since they didn't have one large enough to manufacture the massive airliner. It was constructed in 1966 on land adjacent to a military base at Paine Field near Everett, Washington. The facility is the world's largest building by volume, and it has been enlarged several times throughout the years. The corporation looked at roughly 50 towns before deciding to establish the new plant 30 miles (50 kilometres) north of Seattle, next to a military base at Paine Field in Everett, Washington. President William M. Allen tasked Malcolm T. Stamper, then-head of the company's turbine group, with overseeing the Everett factory's construction and launching 747 production. The initial full-scale evacuation took two and a half minutes instead of the Federal Aviation Administration's maximum of 90 seconds (FAA). Following test evacuations, the aim was met, but more people were injured. The "Waddell's Wagon" (named after a 747 test pilot, Jack Waddell) was an unusual training device that consisted of a mock-up cockpit mounted on the roof of a truck. The first flight, with test pilots Jack Waddell and Brien Wygle at the controls and flight engineer Jess Wallick at the flight engineer's station, took place on February 9, 1969, after months of preparation. During a landing attempt at Renton Municipal Airport, where Boeing's Renton facility is located, a test plane sustained catastrophic damage. The issues caused several months of delays in 747 deliveries, with up to 20 aircraft at the Everett plant stranded awaiting engine installation. Boeing was not deterred by these problems. In the presence of Pan Am chairman Najeeb Halaby, First Lady of the United States Pat Nixon christened Pan Am's first 747 at Dulles International Airport (later Washington Dulles International Airport) on January 15, 1970. According to Boeing, half of the early 747 sales were to airlines that wanted the plane's extended range rather than its payload capacity. During the 1970s and 1980s, JFK airport was home to over 30 regularly scheduled 747s. Following the 1969-1970 slump. For over three years, no 747s were sold to any American carrier. The 767 and A300/A310 twinjets were replaced by the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 TriStar trijet wide body. Delta Air Lines likewise retired their 747s after numerous years of operation.

A photograph of 2 stored Atlas Air Boeing 747s, photo from flickr by Alan Wilson


Photo By Alan Wilson on Flickr.

The 747-100 was the first type, which was introduced in 1966. The 747-200 followed suit, debuting in 1968. The 747-8 was finally revealed in 2005. Each variety has been manufactured in multiple versions. Many of the early variations were being manufactured at the same time. In 1980, the 747-300 was introduced, followed by the 747-400 in 1985. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) uses a shorter code that combines the model number and the variant designator to classify variants (e.g. "B741" for all -100 models).


To accommodate upstairs lounge areas, the first 747-100s were built with six upper deck windows (three each side). Boeing later provided an upper deck with 10 windows on either side as an option as airlines began to use the upper deck for luxury customer seating. Pratt & Whitney JT9D-3A engines were installed in the -100. A total of 168 747-100s were manufactured, with 167 being delivered to customers and the prototype, City of Everett, remaining with Boeing. The revised arrangement was retrofitted on some early -100s.

747 SR

The Boeing 747SR is a short-range derivative of the Boeing 747-100 with more payload capacity and less fuel capacity. The -100SR was first ordered on October 30, 1972, and first delivered on August 3, 1973. The FAA certified the type on September 26, 1973, and the first delivery took place the following day. The type's only client was JAL, afterwards Japan Airlines. On December 21, 1978, All Nippon Airways (ANA) received the first ANA -100SR, a 747SR variant with a 520,000-pound (240 t) MTOW. ANA used this type on domestic Japanese routes with 455 or 456 seats until March 2006, when it retired its last aircraft. ANA and JAL each received 20 -100BSRs, for a total of 29 Boeing 747SRs completed. The first flight of the type took place on February 26, 1986, followed by FAA certification and delivery on March 24, 1986.


The 747-100B was derived from the 747-100SR, which had a more robust airframe and landing gear. The type had a larger fuel capacity of 48,070 US gal (182,000 l), allowing for a 5,000-nautical-mile range with a standard 452-passenger payload, as well as a 750,000-pound maximum takeoff weight (340 t). The first -100B order, for one aircraft, was announced on June 1, 1978, and FAA certification was granted on August 1, 1979. On June 1, 1978, the first -100B order, for one aircraft for Iran Air, was announced.

747 SP

The 747SP was developed in response to a joint request by Pan American World Airways and Iran Air. Pan Am needed a high-capacity aeroplane with enough range to fly between New York and the Middle East, as well as Tehran and New York. Iran Air is the type's final civil operator; its final 747SP (EP-IAC) was scheduled to be decommissioned in June 2016.


The Boeing 747-200 was available in passenger (-200B), cargo (-200F), convertible (-200C), and combi (-200M) configurations. The -200 was equipped with Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7 engines for the first three years of production (initially the only engine available). It was first used by Lufthansa in 1972. In a three-class configuration, the -200M could transport up to 238 passengers. An optional side cargo door on the main deck could be added to the -200C. British Airways placed a launch order with Rolls-Royce when the 747 engine was completed. It cost US$39 million per unit in 1976. (177.4M today). The last passenger 747-200 was retired by Iran Air in May 2016, 36 years after it was delivered. Following the debut of the -200 with Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7 engines, Boeing stated on August 1, 1972 that it had achieved a deal with General Electric to certify the 747 with CF6-50 series engines in order to expand the aircraft's market potential. Two aircraft were also converted for the Union de Transports Aériens (UTA).


Swissair's new 747-300 features a 23-foot-4-inch-long (7.11 m) upper deck with two emergency exit doors. The -300 could be equipped with the same Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce powerplants as on the -200, as well as updated General Electric CF6-80C2B1 engines. As of July 2019, only two 747-300s remain in commercial service, with Mahan Air and TransAVIAexport Airlines. In 1985, the type was superseded by the announcement of the more advanced 747-400. Air France, Air India, Pakistan International Airlines, and Qantas were some of the last major carriers to operate the -300.


The 747-400 is a newer aircraft that has a longer range. Some airlines have leveraged the longer range to avoid stopping at typical fuel stations like Anchorage. The Pratt & Whitney PW4062, General Electric CF6-80C2, and Rolls-Royce RB211-524 are among the engines available. Only ten Boeing 747-400s are in passenger service as of July 2019. KLM introduced the combi variant in September 1989, while Cargolux introduced the freighter version in November 1993. The Boeing Converted Freighter programme, also known as the BCF, was initiated in January 2004 by Boeing and Cathay Pacific. China Airlines received the final passenger variant of the -400 in April 2005.


The 747-400 Dreamlifter (formerly known as the 747 Large Cargo Freighter or LCF) is a Boeing-designed upgrade of existing 747-400s to transport 787 Dreamliner sub-assemblies in a bigger format. Existing 747-400s were modified by Boeing to carry 787 Dreamliner sub-assemblies. On September 9, 2006, the aircraft took to the air for the first time in a test flight. By the end of February 2010, four aeroplanes had been modified. The aircraft is only certified to transport critical crew members, not passengers. The Dreamlifters are now in service hauling sub-assemblies for the 787 programme to Boeing's Everett, Washington, factory for final assembly. In Taoyuan, Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corporation of Taiwan was hired to complete the conversion of 747-400s into Dreamlifters.


The 747-8 is equipped with the same engine and cockpit as the 787 Dreamliner. General Electric GEnx-2B67 engines provide the power. The variant features a 16 percent increase in payload capacity over its predecessor, allowing it to carry seven additional conventional air cargo containers. The -8F flew for the first time on February 8, 2010, and the FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency jointly issued the aircraft an upgraded type certificate in August 2011. The 747-8 Freighter, often known as the 747-8F, is a derivative of the 747-400ERF.

A photo of a boac 747 being escorted by the british red arrows, photo from flickr by Airwolfhound


Photo By Airwolfhound on Flickr.

The 747 has been involved in 166 aviation accidents and incidents as of October 2020, including 63 accidents and hull losses that have resulted in 3746 fatalities. Several Boeing 747 hijackings have occurred, including Pan Am Flight 73, a 747-100 hijacked by four terrorists, which resulted in the deaths of 20 people. Design problems in the 747 have been blamed for a few crashes. After United Airlines Flight 811 experienced an explosive decompression mid-flight on February 24, 1989, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that cargo doors on Boeing 747-100 and 747-200 aircraft similar to those on Flight 811 be replaced with those on the Boeing 747-400. Pilot mistake and communications failure caused the Tenerife airport tragedy, while incorrect aircraft repair caused the Japan Airlines Flight 123 and China Airlines Flight 611 crashes. Due to metal fatigue, the fuse pins for an engine on El Al Flight 1862 broke off shortly after take-off, causing the plane to crash.

Seen here is Boeing 747 G-CIVB being rolled out of a hangar at London Heathrow Airport, displaying the 1973-1980 Negus colour scheme., photo from flickr by Mike McBey


Photo By MikeMcBey on Flickr.

The Boeing 747 is a huge, two-aisle aeroplane with four engines positioned on the wing. It has a high sweep angle of 37.5° on its wings, allowing it to cruise at Mach 0.84 to 0.88 depending on the variation. In economy class, the top deck features a 3–4–3 seat arrangement, while first class has a 2–2 layout. On the 747-100B variant, the "extended upper deck" became available as an option. The 747 is equipped with redundant structures, four redundant hydraulic systems, and four main landing gears with four wheels each. The Cosmic Girl, a Virgin Orbit 747-400, transports the orbital-class rocket to cruise altitude. The 747 can transfer a non-functional fifth-pod engine between the inner functioning engine and the fuselage beneath the aircraft's port wing for spare engine transportation.

PH-BFV & PH-BFW bring to an end KLM 747-400 Combi flights to & from Schiphol., photo by Cityswift - Ireland on Flickr


Photo By Cityswift - Ireland on Flickr.

With a fleet of seventeen Boeing 747s, Qantas became the first airline in the world to do so in 1979. There were 462 Boeing 747s in operation as of July 2019, with Atlas Air and British Airways having the most, each with 33 747-400s. Delta Air Lines retired the last passenger Boeing 747 in December 2017. 890 of the 1,544 aircraft produced have been decommissioned; as of 2018, a small subset of those that were scheduled to be separated out are undergoing D-checks before flying again. On December 19, three of Delta's final four planes sailed on a farewell tour from Seattle to Atlanta, then to Los Angeles and Minneapolis/St Paul on December 20. With this turnaround, Boeing Capital was able to reduce its exposure to the 747-8 from $1.07 billion in 2017 to $481 million in 2018.


specifications table