Boeing 747: 50 years in the skies with love

Seattle, Washington - In the early days of commercial aviation, flying was limited to those who were able to afford the very expensive tickets. Destinations that people can fly were also limited and were requiring one or more connections to go to the final destination.

In 1969, that all changed with the emergence of an outstanding aircraft. On Feb. 9, 1969, the Boeing 747, which is dubbed the “Jumbo Jet”, took to the skies for the first time. People loved the plane very much and called it “Queen of the Skies.”through the years.

Boeing 747 is commercial aircraft manufactured by Boeing. At a glance, you can recognize it by its distinctive hump upper deck along the forward part of the aircraft.

Until today, the airplane is among the most recognizable aircraft in the world. Its most direct rival is the Airbus A380. The B747 made its first flight on February 9, 1969.

The B747 is powered by four Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines. The second floor in the front of the aircraft cabin represents an icon in world aviation. This feature makes it one of the easiest aircraft to recognize worldwide.

For many, the success of the B747 would not go far. It was expected that after some 400 sales, they would be obsolete. But after breaking all expectations, 1000 units were produced in 1993. Even in 2007, there were already 1387 aircraft sold.

The Design

The 747 models were actually designed for other purposes. In the mid-sixties, US air forces needed a cargo aircraft capable of traveling 8,000 km without refueling and supporting more than fifty tons of weight. Various companies presented their designs to the military project. The Boeing Company did not win the contest but opened the door to introduce its model in the world of commercial aviation.

The Boeing 747 was born from a study conducted by the United States Air Force (USAF) in search of a strategic transport aircraft. Boeing presented the 747 at the same time that Douglas and Lockheed presented their proposals, being chosen the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy for the new transport.

At that time, people thought that if supersonic passenger transport was possible, an airplane like 747 would easily surpass or become an obsolete part. Boeing responded to this by designing 747 so that it could be easily adapted as a cargo plane.
In April of 1966, there was an order of 25 aircraft from Pan Am B747-100 worth $ 525 million. During the banquet for the celebration in Seattle on its 50th Anniversary of Boeing, Juan Trippe predicted that 747 was to be "a great weapon for peace.” He assumed that it would compete with intercontinental missiles in his role for the fate of humanity.

The design of the Boeing 747 was not a bicoca. Originally, its designer, Joe Sutter, had thought of a two-story plane, such as the A380, but the difficulties in evacuating passengers forced him to make another decision.
Instead of two floors, Sutter designed a wider cabin, where more rows of seats fit. The hump did not yet exist. If it appeared, it was due to events on the other side of the Atlantic.

The result was the 747 model which was more than seventy meters long and almost sixty wide. Its enormous dimensions required that a factory be built for assembly in Everett, north of Seattle. There the brand new airplane was presented on September 30th, 1968. This event held with press conferences. There were also uniformed crew attendants represented each of the airlines.


First Commercial Flight

The first flight took place on 9 February of 1969, with test pilots Jack Waddell and Brien Wygle. At that time, Jess Wallick became its flight engineer. Despite some initial struggle to fly the aircraft, B747 was maneuvering great. Its dimensions and its enormous transport capacity made it the star of commercial aviation for decades.

On the 15th January of 1970, the First Lady of the United States Pat Nixon christened the first Pan-Am 747 at Dulles International Airport. The B747 officially entered service on 22nd January of 1970, with a route of Pan Am from New York to London. At that time, Pan-Am led commercial aviation in airplanes, routes, the number of passengers and airplane features.

The Boeing 747, known as "Jumbo Jet" for its size, revolutionized the air transport of goods and passengers. It could carry 550 passengers on trips over 10,000 km away. No wonder this type of commercial aircraft dominated the skies for almost four decades.

The flight planned on the night of January 21st, but an overheating of the engines caused a delay. However, the flight engineer team found a substitute engine. Finally, this initial flight marked the historic flight.

Keep in mind that the planes at that time could carry just two hundred passengers. This is why Juan Trippe, head of the Pan Am airline, was satisfied with the advantages of having a large aircraft. More passengers meant a lower cost of tickets, which should translate into an increase in sales. So, he asked Boeing for a design that met commercial requirements.


Above the main compartment, the cabin creates a hump that made the 747 distinctive. The cabin was made to allow the opening of the nose in the load variants.
The 747s have many structural redundancy components including four hydraulic systems and four-arm main landing gear with 16 wheels. These facilities provide a soft landing and safety in case of wheel bursts.

This redundant landing gear allows the plane to land with two-wheel arms without using the other two if they are malfunctioning. The 747 has split control surfaces and sophisticated three-layer flaps that minimize the speed of landings. Finally, it also allows the plane to land on common runways.

Boeing 747 Variants

747-100: It is the first variant of Boeing 747. It was officially in service from January 1970. Initially, this plane belonged to Pan American World Airlines.

747-100b: This edition had more powerful engines and greater reach. Only nine planes of this version were built.

747-100SR: It is the so-called “747 Short Range” with capacity for 570 passengers in a single class. It was built for the Japanese market, where its flights are supersaturated. This variant was designed for short flights only.

747-200: This variant looks very similar to 747-100b. In fact, they were created in parallel.

747-300: This variant presents the elongated upper cover.

747-400: This one is an advanced long-range model with 26,900 kg thrust engines, a two-seater cockpit with digital instruments, as well as auxiliary fuel tank and winglets.

747-8i: Presented on November 14, 2005, this version aimed to maintain its competitiveness in the aircraft market. It can mount over 400 passengers and trying to counteract the appearance of the Airbus A380. The 747-8i is the most advanced in the 747 families. Also, it can carry 16% more passengers than the 747-400 version.


Recorded Accidents

The B747 has experienced about 122 incidents, and about 48 aircraft lost. The 747 were hijacked about 35 times and about 2,850 people have lost their lives in accidents where one of these planes is involved.

The most well-known B747 accidents are in:

March 27th, 1977: There was collision 2 Boeing 747 Los Rodeos airport. It was located in North of the Tenerife island. 583 people died. It is the plane crash with the highest number of fatalities in the history of aviation.

December 1985: The accident occurred in Japan Airlines Flight 123. It was a commercial flight between Haneda International Airport in Tokyo and Osaka International Airport in Itami Hyogo. The Boeing 747-SR46 hit Mount Takamagahara in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, 100 km from Tokyo.

September 1st, 1983: the accident occurred in Boeing 747-200 from Korean Air. The plane was shot down with all on board by Soviet interceptor jets. It is one of the most serious incidents that occurred in the so-called Cold War. 269 ​​passengers and crew perished in the incident

July 17th, 1996: The Federal Aviation Administration of the A B747-100 covering the TWA Flight 800 exploded in the air killing all its passengers. Because of this accident, the FAA USA proposed the installation of a new inerting system in the central fuel tank of this large airplane. This feature reduces the concentration of oxygen in the air and reduces the possibility of an explosion of fuel vapors when the tank is almost empty.

The Boeing 747 overcame the problems and moved on, with some modifications. To this day, the iconic jumbo jet continued to become the star of commercial aviation.