The Boeing 747- An Icon
@New York Times
It all began with a special project led by Joe Sutter, an aviation engineer. Pan American World Airways boss Juan Trippe ordered a plane from Boeing boss Bill Allen that should be bigger than the Boeing 707. Boeing only had 28 months to complete this huge project, an almost impossible task. In addition, they went into debt to the tune of 2 billion dollars.
Thousands of people stand at the runway in Seattle in February 1969 and look up to the sky with great anticipation. In a few moments, the first Boeing 747-100 will take to the skies from First Officer Jack Waddell for a test flight. The four JT9D engines give maximum thrust and reach their take-off speed, slowly the snout rises into the sky. "Positive rate of climb" sounds over the loudspeakers and the crowd cheers. Because of a defective landing flap, she had to end the test flight earlier, but the test was very successful.
The Boeing 747, also called the Queen of the Skies, was not Boeing's main project. For a long time it looked as the project would fail and bankrupt the manufacturer. Juan Trippe wanted a double-decker aero-plane. The 6 meters of cabin width impressed him very much and so Boeing managed to convince him, they put the cockpit one floor higher. This created the characteristic hump, the Queen's emblem. At the presentation of the 747, a dummy was presented to the visitors. In June, they flew the new flagship to Paris for the air show, but on the way back, an engine exploded. After pressuring the manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, the fault was discovered and repaired. In January 1970, PanAm operated the first scheduled flight with the 747 to London Heathrow Airport . There were some complications on the flight, but after a change of aircraft, it took off with much delay.
In 1988, Boeing presented its modernised version, the Boeing 747-400. With more economical, more powerful engines and new systems, it convinced many airlines and Boeing delivered almost 700 aircraft of this type. Inside the 747-400 there is space for over 400 passengers. In 2011, the Boeing 747-8, the world's longest passenger aircraft, appeared on the market. The General Electric GEnx engines have a price of 13 million dollars each.
The Boeing is able to fly just below the sound barrier. Since 1969, there have only been a few accidents, but 583 people died in the 1977 collision of two Boeing 747s in Tenerife. The causes of the accidents can always be traced back to human error. The most famous aircraft is the Air Force 1 for the president of America. It represents Boeing and is a flying fortress. During the attack on 11th September 2001, President Bush was flown out on Air Force 1, which also has some defence systems. America owns two of these aircrafts. With only 3 refueling stops it gets around the globe once and so it also serves as a fighter plane. The Boeing 747SP with the name Sofia is an observation aircraft for NASA which has been in service since 2012 and explores the universe. A private Boeing 747 can be purchased for around $500 million. In 2005 Airbus responded to Boeings 747 as they published the A380. Nowadays since Covid changed the airline industry and smaller planes are more attractive to airlines due to the higher efficiency, the Airbus A350 is concurating with the Boeing 787. In 2022, production of the 747 in Seattle plant will come to an end.
Written by Lukas Zorn
@ sierrakiloaviation @ niclashco