Has the Queen actually flown on the Queen of the skies?
In late 2018, the Boeing 747 celebrated its golden, 50th anniversary. In reality, the plane didn’t enter commercial service until January, 1970, so it’s been around for 50 years as of this year.
Considering the internet is only 28 years old, it’s incredible to think that something could make such a lasting impact on the world during such a transformative time.
Long before Facebook, mobile phones or Netflix, Boeing pushed the boundaries of flight with the 747, and years later it’s still the Queen of the skies. Here are 10 fascinating facts about the 747…
Qantas has the aviation world in a stir as it teases plans for 20 hour nonstop London to Sydney flights. The airline is waiting on “the perfect aircraft”. But truth be told, this has already been done. In fact, the Boeing 747-400 completed a one off London-Sydney journey in 1989, when Margaret Thatcher was still Prime Minister.
It Was Originally Designed With Two Full Length Decks
The A380 before the A380! It’s true, Joe Sutter, the lead designer of the Boeing 747, and Pan Am’s Juan Trippe, initially hoped to create an aircraft with two decks the entire length, much like the Airbus A380 you see in the skies today.
There were two reasons that didn’t happen. One: the lower ceiling height of each deck made cargo less effective. Two: At the time, two decks couldn’t be evacuated in the mandatory 90 seconds or less for airworthiness certification.
Surprise, It’s Still The Fastest Commercial Plane
There’s so much buzz regarding the new generation of Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 aircraft, which are changing passenger experience via better cabin pressure, reduced noise and greater fuel efficiency, but when it comes to getting somewhere fast – they’re no match for the Queen.
The Boeing 747 is the fastest commercial airplane, with a top speed of Mach .86, just over 650MPH, and its only fitting that on its 50th anniversary in 2020, it set a transatlantic flight record between New York and London, making it in under 5 hours!
It Once Carried 1,088 People On A Single Flight
In 1991, an El Al Boeing 747-400 carried 1,088 people on a single flight, breaking the world record. The historic flight was part of Operation Solomon, which helped to evacuate Ethiopian Jews from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
To this day, it’s the highest number of people ever on a flight and it was critical to helping 14,000 people flee the country.
Some Passengers Are Closer To The Front Than Pilots
There’s an incredible novelty to passenger experience on the Boeing 747. It’s the only plane where passengers can either sit in a miniature upstairs bubble, or directly in the nose, in front of the pilots!
Sitting in the downstairs nose of the Boeing 747 puts lucky passengers both lower and closer to the front of the plane than the pilots – and this provides incredible views during takeoff and landing. It’s a bucket list experience, without a doubt…
Air Force One is the most famous global symbol of the Boeing 747. The highly customized, super secretive birds are the subject of constant speculation and intrigue, but there’s one thing many people forget. There are actually two of them.
This exists for a variety of reasons, such as using one as a decoy, but also having one as a back up in case one is out of commission and someone, aka the President of The United States, needs to get somewhere… fast.
The Boeing 747 Has Flown 3.5 Billion People
Ok, sure, it’s been around a while, but with a world population of 7.53 billion people, that means roughly half the planet has at some point set foot on a Boeing 747. Putting that into perspective, it’s estimated that 5 billion people have access to mobile phones.
The plane has survived from the so called “golden age” of Pan Am right through to today, which not many planes can lay claim to.
The Upper Deck Is About As Wide As A Boeing 737
The Boeing 737 is the most widely used passenger plane in the world. It’s the one Ryanair flies and you can see it on every continent around the world. While the 747 upper deck may feel like an exclusive and tiny space, which in contrast to the main deck it is, it’s actually about the same size as an entire Boeing 737.
If you haven’t gone upper deck, you must. There aren’t that many years remaining to experience it, particularly with airlines pulling the plane out of the skies due to hard times…
The 747 Is The Reason For The World’s Largest Building
The Boeing Factory in Everett, Washington USA, is the world’s largest building by volume at over 13,000,000 cubic meters. It’s so large, it has its own weather systems inside, and clouds form inside the building.
That’s a fact. Unbeknownst to many, the Boeing 747 project was the reason for building this record breaking facility, because at the time Boeing didn’t have anywhere large enough to build. The roof wasn’t even finished when these birds started to appear…
There Are 12 Airlines Still Flying The 747, At Least For Now
Asiana, Air China, British Airways, China Airlines, El Al, Korean, KLM, Lufthansa, Rossiya, Saudia, Thai, Virgin Atlantic and Qantas still fly the Boeing 747-400 on select routes.
Air China, Lufthansa and Korean will likely be the last airlines flying the 747, since they are the only customers of the newer Boeing 747-8i variant, but British Airways will be a close second with a planned retirement date by 2024.
Uncertainty right now means many of these dates will be pushed up significantly, and the 747 is currently on the ground for many airlines.