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Boeing 747 Boeing
Long-Range Jetliner

When the US Air Force requested proposals for a heavy cargo transport, Boeing submitted a design that would eventually become the 747. As with the 707 and KC-135, it was hoped that government funding for a military project would reduce the cost of developing a commercial derivative for the airline market. However, Lockheed won the Air Force contract and went on to build the C-5 Galaxy. Despite development costs exceeding $16 million, Boeing decided at great risk to the survival of the company to proceed with the commercial 747 with internal resources once airlines had shown enough interest in the design.

Boeing even went so far as to build an entirely new factory for 747 production because the aircraft was so much larger than its predecessors. The fuselage is enormous, with a main deck seating nine abreast plus an upper deck lounge aft of the flight deck. To operate such a heavy aircraft from existing runways, the weight had to be dispersed over 18 wheels on five landing gear units. Despite its bulk, the 747 was designed to be as similar to smaller Boeing designs, like the 707 and 727, as possible to ease crew familiarization and airport compatibility. The 747 uses powered controls and advanced navigation systems so that early models required only three flight crew to operate the aircraft. The current 747-400 production models employ further advanced automation technologies to reduce the flight crew to two.

Although the 747 typically carries 300 to 500 passengers, this represents only a fraction of the aircraft's lifting capability. High-density versions flown in east Asia routinely carry up to 800, and one Israeli 747 airlifted a staggering 1,087 refugees from Ethiopia in 1991.

By 2001, over 1,250 747s had been built. Further development of the series continues with the 747-400ER extended range and 747-8 stretched models, although development problems with the 787 have delayed the 747-8 series by about two years. Boeing hopes these improvements will keep the 747 line competitive with the Airbus A380. Long term plans are for an entirely new large, long-range airliner to be developed around 2020 as a replacement for both the 747 and 777.

Data below for 747-100, 747-400, and 747-8
Last modified 23 April 2011

First Flight (747-100) 9 February 1969
(747-200) 11 October 1970
(747SP) 4 July 1975
(747-300) 5 October 1982
(747-400) 29 April 1988
(747-400ER) 31 July 2002
(747-8F) 8 January 2010
(747-8I) 20 March 2011
Service Entry

(747-100) 22 January 1970 (with Pan Am)
(747SP) 25 April 1976 (with Pan Am)
(747-300) 28 March 1983 (with Swissair)
(747-400) 9 February 1989 (with Northwest)
(747-400ER) 7 November 2002 (with Qantas)
(747-8) planned for late 2011 (with Lufthansa)
(747-8F) planned for late 2010 (with Cargolux)

CREW: (747-100) three flight crew: pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer
(747-400) two flight crew: pilot, co-pilot

PASSENGERS: (747-100) 366 in three classes, 452 in two classes
(747SP) 440 maximum
(747-300) 412 in three classes, 496 in two classes
(747-400) 416 in three classes, 524 in two classes
(747-400ER) 416 in three classes, 524 in two classes
(747-8) 450 in three classes


(747-8) $285.5 to $300 million [2007$]
(747-8F) $294 to $297 million [2007$]

Wing Root unknown 13.4%
Wing Tip

unknown 8%

Length (741-400) 231.85 ft (70.66 m)
(747-400) 231.85 ft (70.66 m)
(747-8) 243.50 ft (74.22 m)
(747-8F) 250.17 ft (76.25 m)
Wingspan (747-100) 195.67 ft (59.64 m)
(747-400) 211.42 ft (64.50 m)
(747-8) 224.75 ft (68.50 m)
Height (747-100) 63.42 ft (19.33 m)
(747-400) 63.67 ft (19.41 m)
(747-8) 63.50 ft (19.35 m)
Wing Area (747-100) 5,500 ft² (510.95 m²)
(747-400) 5,650 ft² (524.90 m²)
Canard Area

not applicable

Empty (747-100) 358,000 lb (162,400 kg)
(747-200) 377,000 lb (171,000 kg)
(747-400) 399,000 lb (180,985 kg)
Normal Takeoff unknown
Max Takeoff (747-100) 735,000 lb (333,400 kg)
(747-200) 833,000 lb (374,850 kg)
(747-400) 875,000 lb (396,890 kg)
(747-400ER) 910,000 lb (412,775 kg)
(747-8) 960,000 lb (435,455 kg)
Fuel Capacity (747-100) 48,445 gal (183,380 L)
(747-200) 52,410 gal (199,160 L)
(747-400) 57,285 gal (216,840 L)
(747-400ER) 63,705 gal (241,140 L)
(747-8) 60,125 gal (227,600 L)
(747-8F) 56,825 gal (215,105 L)
Max Payload

(747-200F) 248,000 lb (112,490 kg)
(747-8F) 308,000 lb (139,705 kg)

Powerplant (747-100) four Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7A turbofans
or four Rolls-Royce RB211-524B2 turbofans
or four General Electric CF6-45A2 turbofans
(747-200) four Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4G2 turbofans
or four Rolls-Royce RB211-524D4 turbofans
or four General Electric CF6-50E2 turbofans
(747-400) four Pratt & Whitney PW4062 turbofans
or four Rolls-Royce RB211-524H turbofans
or four General Electric CF6-80C2B5F turbofans
(747-8) four General Electric GEnx-2B67 turbofans
Thrust (747-100) 186,000 lb (827 kN) [P&W]
(747-100) 200,400 lb (890 kN) [RR]
(747-100) 186,000 lb (827 kN) [GE]
(747-200) 219,000 lb (973 kN) [P&W]
(747-200) 212,000 lb (942 kN) [RR]
(747-200) 210,000 lb (933 kN) [GE]
(747-400) 253,200 lb (1,125 kN) [P&W]
(747-400) 238,000 lb (1,058 kN) [RR]
(747-400) 248,400 lb (1,104 kN) [GE]
(747-8) 266,000 lb (1,183 kN)

Max Level Speed at altitude: 600 mph (970 km/h) at 30,000 ft (9,145 m), Mach 0.885
at sea level: unknown
cruise speed: 565 mph (910 km/h) at 35,000 ft (10,680 m), Mach 0.85 [747-400]
Initial Climb Rate unknown
Service Ceiling unknown
Range (747-100) 4,630 nm (8,560 km)
(747-200) 6,570 nm (12,150 km)
(747-400) 7,260 nm (13,445 km)
(747-400ER) 7,670 nm (14,205 km)
(747-8) 8,000 nm (14,815 km)
(747-8F) 4,475 nm (8,275 km)
g-Limits unknown

747-100 First production model; 176 built (including -100B)
747-100B Improved 747-100 with strengthened structure and landing gear
747SP Special Performance version based on the 747-100B but featuring a much shorter fuselage and larger tail unit and with a maximum capacity of 440 passengers; 45 built
747SR Short Range version of the 747-100B designed for higher-frequency takeoffs and landings; 29 built
747-200B Similar to the 747-100B but with new engines, increased fuel capacity, and greater takeoff weight; 225 built
747-200B Combi Version of the 747-200B that can be converted between different mixes of passengers and cargo; 78 built
747-200B Convertible Similar to the 747-200B Combi but can be configured for all-passenger, all-cargo, or one of five predetermined combinations; 13 built
747-200F Freighter Dedicated cargo version of the 747-200 for loads up to 248,000 lb (112,490 kg) and equipped with an opening fuselage nose and a cargo loading system; 73 built
747SUD Stretched Upper Deck modification available for 747-100B, 747-200B, 747-200B Combi, and 747SR models that provides room for an additional 69 passengers on the upper deck and 7 on the lower deck
747-300 New production model incorporating the changes of the 747SUD but otherwise simlar to the 747-200 series; 56 passenger, 21 combination, and 4 short range models built
747-300 Trijet Proposed model with a shortened fuselage and only three engines that would complete with the Lockheed L-1011 and Douglas DC-10, offered improved performance over its rivals but would have required major redesign of the wing; not developed
747-400 Advanced production model featuring enlarged wings and winglets for improved aerodynamics, new cockpit displays, stretched upper deck, and new engines
747-400D Domestic High density version of the 747-400 designed for shorter domestic routes
747-400F Freighter Cargo version of the 747-400
747-400M Combi Mixed passenger/cargo version of the 747-400
747-400BCF Boeing Converted Freighter, former 747-400 passenger or combi models converted into cargo transports; at least 49 conversion kits ordered
747-400ER Extended Range variant of the 747-400 with increased gross takeoff weight for greater fuel capacity (and range) or increased payload; combines the strengthened wing, fuselage, and landing gear of the 747-400 Freighter with one or two additional fuel tanks in the forward cargo hold; also introduces more reliable Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs), an integrated standby LCD flight display, cockpit noise reductions, and avionics upgrades including a quiet climb capability
747-400ERF Freighter Improved 747-400 Freighter based on the 747-400ER with longer range or greater payload
747-400SF Special Freighter conversion available to modify 747-400 or 747-400M Combi aircraft to a full cargo freighter configuration
747-400XQLR Proposed Quiet Longer Range series based on the 747-400 with a maximum takeoff weight of 921,000 lb (417,760 kg), a range of 7,980 nm (14,775 km), noise reduction features, cargo handling improvements, plus other new options based on customer interest; also would incorporate wing modifications including a raked wingtip like that on the 767-400ER, new flap and aileron design, and a trailing edge wedge to reduce fuel consumption and noise while increasing range and cruise speed; development cancelled
747-400XQLRF Freighter Proposed cargo version of the 747-4000XQLR with a range of 5,150 nm (9,530 km) and a payload capacity of 248,700 lb (112,810 kg); development cancelled
747-500X Proposed stretched model combining a lengthened 747-400 fuselage with a new wing derived from the 777, improved engines, and strengthened landing gear to support a greater takeoff weight, model would include 18 ft (5.5 m) fuselage inserts and carry 462 passengers up to 8,700 nm (16,100 km); not developed
747-600X Similar to the 747-500X but with longer fuselage inserts to carry 548 passengers up to 7,700 nmi (14,300 km); not developed
747-700X Proposed model combining the wing of the 747-600X with a widened fuselage to carry 650 passengers; not developed
747X Proposed enlarged 747-400 model intended to compete with the Airbus A3XX concept; three variants considered were the 747-400X (same size as the 747-400 but with a larger payload capacity), 747X (similar to the 747-200 but with a 10,000 mile range), and the 747XS stetched model for up to 550 passengers; development cancelled
747 Advanced Proposed stretch model based on the 747-400 but with fuselage inserts for increased capacity, advanced fuel efficient engines similar to the 787, and increased range; re-christened as the 747-8 when launched in November 2005
747-8 Intercontinental Stretched passenger model with an 11.7 ft (3.6 m) fuselage insert for 34 additional seats compared to the 747-400, also incorporates an upgraded flight deck, new engines, and improved wing design derived from the 787; at least 26 ordered
747-8F Freighter Cargo variant of the 747-8 with a 16.7 ft (5.1 m) fuselage insert to increase cargo volume by 16% allowing seven more cargo pallets to be carried compared to the 747-400F; at least 80 ordered
747 LCF Large Cargo Freighter modified from former 747-400 airframes with a larger diameter fuselage and swinging aft fuselage door to ferry large components of the 787 for assembly; internal volume increased to 65,000 ft³ (1,840 m³); 3 converted
C-19 USAF designation for 747-100 airliners used in the Civil Reserve Airlift Fleet
VC-25 VIP transport modified from the 747-200B and incorporating many features of the 747-400, used by the USAF to transport the President and popularly known as Air Force One; 2 built
C-33 Proposed military transport based on the 747-400; cancelled in favor of purchasing more C-17 transports
KC-33 Proposed military refuelling tanker offered as a competitor to the KC-10; not developed
E-4 Airborne command post built for US Air Force and intended for use by the President and other officials to provide command of all nuclear forces in time of war; 4 built
YAL-1 USAF prototype known as the Airborne Laser carrying a large chemical laser system that fires from the nose to attack ballistic missiles as they ascend; 1 converted from a 747-200
747 CMCA Cruise Missile Carrier Aircraft proposed as an alternative to the B-1 that would be equipped with rotary launchers in internal bays and able to launch 50 to 100 AGM-86 cruise missiles; not developed
747 SCA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, former airliners acquired by NASA and modified to ferry the Space Shuttle between NASA facilities in Florida and California, also released the orbiter Enterprise on 13 tests of its gliding capabilities, one is a 747-100 purchased from American Airlines in 1974 while the other is a 747-100SR bought from Japan Airlines in 1988; 2 converted
SOFIA Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy modified from a 747SP airframe for use by NASA, features an infrared telescope located in the aft fuselage for astronomical observations while flying at altitudes up to 45,000 ft (13,715 m); 1 converted

Civil Abu Dhabi Amiri Flight
Aer Lingus
Aerolineas Argentinas
Air Afrique
Air Algerie
Air Atlanta Icelandic
Air Bridge Cargo
Air Canada
Air China
Air China Cargo
Air Dabia
Air France
Air France Cargo
Air Freight Express
Air Gabon
Air Hongkong
Air India
Air Liberté
Air Madagascar
Air Namibia
Air New Zealand
Air Outre Mer
Air Pacific
Alliance Air
All Nippon Airways (ANA)
Altitude Aircraft Leasing Trust
American Airlines
America West Airlines
Ansett Australia
Arik Air
Asiana Airlines
Atlas Airways
Avion Aircraft Trading
Bahrain Amiri Flight
Biman Bangladesh
British Airways
British Airways World Cargo
Cameroon Airlines
Canadian Airlines
Cargo Airlines
Carlin Airlines
Cathay Pacific Airways
China Airlines
China Southern Airlines
Continental Airlines
Delta Air Lines
Deucalion Aviation
Dubai Air Wing
El Al
Emirates SkyCargo
Ethiopian Airlines
Eva Air
Evergreen International Airlines
Family Airlines
Fast Airways
Garuda Indonesia
Global Air Australia
GMG Airlines
Gulf Falcon
Holiday Airlines
Hydro Air
Iran Air
Iraqi Airways
JAL Ways
Japan Air Lines
Japan Air Systems
Japan Asia Airways
Kabo Air
Kalitta Air
Kalitta American International
Kitty Hawk International
KLM - Royal Dutch Airlines
Korean Air Lines
Kuwait Airways
LAM Mozambique
Lufthansa Cargo Airlines
Malaysian Airline System (MAS)
Malaysian Airlines Cargo (MASkargo)
Mandarin Airlines
Martinair Holland
Middle East
MK Airlines
Nationair Canada
National Airlines
Nippon Cargo Airlines
Northwest Airlines
Oasis Hong Kong Airlines
Olympic Airways
Oman Royal Flight
Nippon Cargo Airlines
Pakistan International Airlines
Pan American World Airways (Pan Am)
People Express
Philippine Air Lines
Polar Air Cargo
Qatar Airways
Royal Air Maroc
Saha Airline
Singapore Airlines
South African Airways
Southern Air Transport
TAAG Angola Airlines
Thai Airways International
TNT Airways
Tower Air
Trans World Airlines (TWA)
United Airlines
United Parcel Service (UPS)
Virgin Atlantic Airways
World Airways
Government/Military Iran (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force)
Japan, Nihon Koku-Jieitai (Japan Air Self Defence Force)
United States (US Air Force)
United States (NASA)
Yemen (Unified Yemen Air Force)


Boeing 747

  • Aboulafia, Richard. Jane's Civil Aircraft. Glasgow: Harper Collins Publishers, 1996, p. 48-49, Boeing 747.
  • Boeing 747 site
  • Chant, Christopher and Taylor, Michael J.H. The World's Greatest Aircraft. Edison, NJ: Chartwell Books, 2006, p. 231, Boeing 747.
  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 171-172, Boeing Model 747.
  • Donald, David, ed. The Encyclopedia of Civil Aircraft. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 1999, p. 182-199, Boeing 747, Boeing 747-400.
  • Rendall, David. Jane's Aircraft Recognition Guide, 2nd ed. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1999, p. 217, Boeing 747-400.
  • Taylor, Michael. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1996/1997. London: Brassey's, 1996, p. 266-268, Boeing 747-400, "500" and "600".
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000. London: Brassey's, 1999, p. 250-252, Boeing 747-400 series.

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