The aircraft that would change passenger flight forever was completed this month in 1969.
Earlier this month, Boeing celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 747. The “Queen of the Skies” is often regarded as the single machine that made passenger airline flight an everyday occurrence. Passenger flight has changed dramatically since 1969, and Boeing is celebrating this happy achievement all spring long. Tweets and posts celebrating the 747’s birthday are posted here on their website.
Also on the website, Boeing Historian Mike Lombardi has these words about the iconic jetliner:
“Over the last 50 years, the 747 has become legendary, today it is a bridge to a romantic era of flight, an era that we should continue to aspire to resurrect. But more than that the 747 is a reminder of the power of the human spirit and what we can accomplish with our hearts, minds and hard work. It reminds us that even though we may lose hope in a world that seems filled with strife, we can turn our eyes to the skies and see those great contrails of the Queen of the Skies crossing the heavens and know that we can still overcome great adversity and accomplish incredible things.”
Not only was the “Super Jet” the first airliner with dual aisles in its widebody design, it was also created to be incredibly safe. Chief designer, the late Joe Sutter, led the build team from its 1965 inception to its rollout 50 years ago. The safety-conscious team included many firsts that we take for granted today, including redundant systems and structures that have saved countless millions of passenger lives.
The production price tag was $1 billion U.S. dollars in 1968, which translates to more than $7 billion today (after inflation). At the time, the cost of the project nearly bankrupted the company. But the project prevailed and became a truly remarkable success.
First flown commercially in January of 1970 for Pan-American World Airways, the 747 held the passenger capacity record until late 2007! More than 1,500 747 aircraft have been built, well more than Boeing’s original estimate. According to Boeing, 5.9 billion 747 passengers have flown 57 billion nautical miles since the introduction of the Jumbo Jet. That means the 747s across the world have carried 78 percent of the world’s population and flown to the moon and back 137,000 times!
The 747 is becoming less and less a passenger aircraft as the Boeing 777 and other twin-engine jets are used more frequently today. Boeing is still creating the machines, however, though mainly for cargo reasons today. Most passenger 747s are likewise finding new lives after being retrofit as cargo planes.
A truly remarkable machine, it is also a familiar aircraft to the Aereos group. From new aftermarket parts created by Euless Aero and Aereos Interiors Solutions to MRO and FAA-approved repair solutions at Atlas Aerospace and ACP, Aereos celebrates this occasion as well.
Visit Boeing’s website for more insights and stories about the machine we all know so well. Bloomberg also has a fantastic photo gallery here, including a shot of Virgin Atlantic’s 747 that was the first airline to run on Bio-fuel. Congratulations to all “The Incredibles” at Boeing and to all her customers, past and present. Happy Anniversary.