Chapman Freeborn blog

A Quick Guide to the Boeing 747

Image courtesy of Ave Maria Mõistlik

The Boeing 747 is a wide body, four-engine jet, which is manufactured by the world-renowned American aerospace company, Boeing. Today the 747 serves more than 210 airports around the world and is one of the world’s most recognisable aircrafts, thanks largely to its distinctive shape, which has earned it the nickname ‘Jumbo Jet’.

The Boeing 747 took its inaugural flight at the beginning of 1969 and was the first wide body aircraft ever produced, meaning there was room for two passenger aisles within.


Image courtesy of SAS Scandinavian Airlines

From 1970 until 2007, when the Airbus A380 was introduced, the 747 was the largest passenger carrier the world had ever seen. More than 1,500 of these have since been built worldwide, in various different models. When it was first introduced, the aircraft was capable of carrying 550 passengers, more than double that of it’s predecessor the Boeing 707, and its introduction was heralded as a new age of transportation.

At the time of design and initial construction Boeing didn’t have a large enough facility in which to build the 747, so they borrowed significant amounts of money in order to purpose build a new assembly plant in Everett, Washington just to house their plane. The first mock-up of the aircraft was to be built so quickly that the roof wasn’t even on the building by the time the aircraft was complete.

Today, the newest Boeing 747s can carry up to 660 passengers and the most common passenger version in service, the 747-400, can reach speeds of 570 mph and has a maximum cruising altitude of 45,000 feet. When this model was first produced in 1985 it changed the need for a three-pilot crew to a two-pilot crew, thanks to the new glass cockpit design.


Image courtesy of Adrian Pingstone

The 747 is one of the safest planes ever constructed and it’s easy to see why it has around 90 of the world’s major airlines as loyal customers to this day. The upper deck of the aircraft is often home to first class and business class areas, allowing them to be kept utterly private and exclusive for passengers.

For cargo purposes, the 747 is one of the most chartered aircraft for transporting heavy and outsize cargo. A new large-capacity version, the Boeing B747-800F, was recently put to use by Chapman Freeborn to move an 80-ton energy component and a 20-foot unmanned sea vessel from the UK to the USA.

Although it has been over a year since the last order was placed for a new Boeing 747 to be made, with airlines opting for more fuel-efficient twin engine aircraft, it will be a long time before the Boeing 747 disappears from the skies thanks to their reliability and popularity within the industry. They are a firm favourite with passengers and pilots the world over, with many pilots saying that the day the Boeing 747 retires from service will be the day they do so too.