The Boeing 747-200 400 800“Jumbo” is a wide-body commercial jet airliner and cargo aircraft often referred to by its original nickname The aircraft is capable of transporting up to 524 passengers.
The quadjet 747 uses a double-deck configuration for part of its length and 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 extra seating, and to allow the aircraft to be easily converted to a cargo carrier by removing seats and installing a front cargo door.
Though the 747 was expected to become obsolete after 400 were sold, production passed 1,000 in 1993.
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, officials believed that a much larger and more capable aircraft was needed, especially to carry cargo that would not fit in any existing aircraft.
The desire to keep the number of engines to four required new engine designs with greatly increased power and better fuel economy.
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. Boeing was asked by Juan Trippe, president of Pan American World Airways (Pan Am), one of their 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 larger new aircraft.
In 1965, Joe Sutter was transferred from Boeing’s 737 development team to manage the design studies for the new airliner, already assigned the model number 747. Sutter began a design study with Pan Am and other airlines, 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 At the time, it was widely thought that the 747 would eventually be superseded by supersonic transport aircraft.Boeing responded by designing the 747 so that it could be adapted easily to carry freight and remain in production even if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 shipping 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.
In April 1966, Pan Am ordered 25 747-100 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”. 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.
By June 2019, 1,553 aircraft had been built, with 20 of the 747-8 variants remaining on order.
Aircraft of similar role, configuration and era are: Airbus A340-600, Airbus A380, Ilyushin Il-96, Antonov An-124, Boeing 777-300ER, McDonnell Douglas MD-12, Sukhoi KR-860.