The Boeing 747, the world's first twin-aisle airplane, has left the building. The final Boeing 747 exited the company's factory ahead of its delivery to Atlas Air in 2023.History of the 747
Production began for this iconic aircraft in 1967 and over 54 years 1,574 have been built. Boeing said the plane was the result of about 50,000 mechanics, construction workers, engineers, administrators and secretaries. Known as "the Incredibles", the team made history with the largest civilian airplane in the world. The first workers arrived at the 747 production plant on Jan. 3, 1967, and the 747-100 rolled out on Sep. 30, 1968. Over roughly 16 months in the late 1960s, the plane was built and entered the global travel service in 1970. The FAA certified the 747-100 for commercial service on Dec. 30, 1969, and it entered commercial service with Pan American World Airways on a New York-to-London flight on Jan. 21, 1970. According to Boeing, the need for this plane stemmed from a reduction in airfares and an influx of air passenger traffic. With crowded skies, Boeing planned to create a commercial airplane to use military technology from the large military transport planes like the C-5A. Boeing said other than the engines, the 747 was a completely new plane from the C-5A.By September of 1972, the 747 worldwide fleet had achieved one million flight hours. in October of 1975, it carried its 100 millionth passenger. Using a specially equipped model, Boeing said a 747 carried a U.S. space shuttle for the first time on Feb. 18, 1977.
At 250 ft 2 in., this is the longest commercial aircraft in service. The 747-8 can travel roughly the length of three FIFA soccer fields or NFL football fields per second, Boeing said. The plane was built in a 200 million cubic-foot facility in Everett, Washington. Boeing said the fuselage of the original 747 was 225 feet long and the tail was as tall as a six-story building. The total wing area was larger than a basketball court and the cargo hold could fit 3,400 pieces of luggage and be unloaded in seven minutes. On Feb. 15, 1999, Boeing completed the digitizing of the 747 fuselage and utilized new fuselage tooling. Boeing said this effort took four years to complete and simplified airplane assembly and improved quality.
The final plane is the 747-8 Freighter. It has a revenue payload of 133.1 tons and can transport 10,767 solid gold bars equaling $5.4 billion, according to Boeing. The 747-8 is owned by companies all over the world like UPS, Qatar Airways and Lufthansa.Training to fly the 747
To train to fly this monumentally sized aircraft, pilots prepare at the Boeing training school. Boeing said to fly such a large plane, training was done in "Waddell's Wagon", a mockup 747. Named after Jack Waddell, Boeing's test pilot, the mockup consisted of a 747-deck built on three-story-high stilts on top of a moving truck. The pilot in training would maneuver the mock 747 by directing the truck driver with a radio, according to Boeing.Variations of the 747
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had two 747-100s modified into shuttle carrier aircraft, used for transport for the first time in 1977. The U.S. Air Force ordered two specially equipped 747-200s to transport the president on June 5, 1986. In August 1990, Boeing said the two modified 747-200Bs replaced the VC-137s (707s) that were used prior as the presidential plane for almost 30 years.
In Aug. 1999, assembly began on a militarized 747-400 Freighter to be used for the U.S. Air Force Airborne Laser program (ABL). Boeing said the program began in Oct. 2006 and was later designated YAL-1. ABL was designed to provide a speed-of-light capability to destroy all types of ballistic missiles in the boost phase of flight, Boeing said. As the primary contractor for ABL, Boeing provided modified aircraft and a battle management system, with partners like Northrop Grumman which supplied the chemical oxygen iodine and Lockheed Martin which provided a nose-mounted turret on top of the beam control/fire control system. The program was canceled in 2011 and the YAL-1 was flown to the U.S. Air Force "bone yard" to be scrapped, according to Boeing. The Dreamlifter was a model made to transport large structures such as the fuselage sections of a 787 Dreamliner. The last out of four Dreamlifter variations made entered service on Feb. 16, 2010.
Variations of the Boeing 747 have been made to transport passengers, large fuselage sections, cargo, and for military operations. On Nov. 14, 2005, the 747-8 family was introduced. The intercontinental passenger airplane incorporated technologies from the 787 Dreamliner, according to Boeing. The 747-8 included the new GEnx-2B engines and raked wingtips. These and other improvements allowed for a 30 percent smaller noise footprint, a 15 percent reduction in in-service carbon emissions, better performance retention, lower weight, less fuel consumption, fewer parts and less maintenance.The final 747 and milestones
Boeing began assembling the 747-8 Freighter on Aug. 8, 2008, and flew for the first time on Feb. 8, 2010. The passenger version of the 747 flew for the first time on Mar. 20, 2011. The plane has sculpted ceilings, larger overhead and side stow bins, a new staircase and LED lighting, all of which Boeing said were to enhance the customer experience. The first 747-8 Intercontinental was delivered on Feb. 28, 2012, to a business Jet customer and Lufthansa took the delivery of the first airline Intercontinental on April 25 of that same year.
On June 28, 2014, Boeing delivered its 1,500th 747 to Lufthansa, making the 747 the first wide-body plane to reach that milestone.
"For more than half a century, tens of thousands of dedicated Boeing employees have designed and built this magnificent airplane that has truly changed the world," Boeing VP and General Manager of 747 and 767 programs, Kim Smith said. "We are proud that this plane will continue to fly across the globe for years to come."