The Boeing 747, frequently known as the”Jumbo Jet,” was a remarkable commercial jetliner for the own time.
The -200 version followed in 1971, featuring more powerful engines and a higher MTOW (Max Take-Off Weight).
Boeing subsequently launched the -300 version in 1980, which led from studies to boost the capacity of the 747. This variant, together with the -100, -200, and SP, were jointly called the 747″Classics.” It was now time to get a more significant update.
The most common variant, the 747-400, entered service in 1989. This variant featured, together with the extended upper deck of the -300, more lookup motors, and has been the first to feature a 2-crew glass cockpit, eliminating the necessity for a flight engineer, and is also the most frequent variant in service. The -400 includes a longer wingspan than the classics and has been fitted with winglets, which reduced drag, and is the most popular aesthetic feature used to differentiate the version from the -300.
The 747-400 dominated the long-haul marketplace for many years to come. It was operated by nearly every major airline in the world, dominating every significant international airport. It was not until the late 2000’s the -400 needed to face competition, following the bigger Airbus A380 entered service. Boeing finally responded by launching a new bigger, more fuel-efficient version.
The next generation 747-8 was launched in 2009, with Lufthansa, and entered service in 2012. This version boasted a composite fuselage, as featured on the 787, and much more fuel-efficient engines. Additionally, it featured an increase in capacity, as a result of the stretched fuselage and upper deck. Sadly, it failed to capture the market and was not able to match, let alone surpass, the achievement of the -400.
The four-engine 747’s time is coming to an end, with a growing number of airlines retiring the kind in favour of more efficient twin engine aircraft. The most recent passenger version, -8, failed to attract as many sales as Boeing had expected, having earned less than 50 orders from largely 3 airlines, since the quad can’t compete with the likes of the 777, 787, and Airbus A350.
Despite this the 747 enjoys a fantastic reputation among the most prosperous airliners in history. As we see a growing number of smaller, twin engine aircraft in its place, the sector will always remember the beauty and elegance with which the Boeing 747 adorned our heavens.