Fifty years in the past the Boeing 747 took to the skies for the primary time, with the promise of reworking aviation. The Jumbo jet provided larger luxurious than ever earlier than for first-class passengers, and extra seats than ever earlier than in financial system class. And whereas youthful planes have come and gone, the 747 flies on.

How transformational was the 747?

The Jumbo jet is now not the most important passenger airplane, however half a century in the past it startled the world by its sheer dimension: two-and-a-half instances larger by way of capability than earlier plane.

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Joe Sutter and his staff of 4,500 designed and constructed the 747 to be a freighter in addition to a passenger airplane. That, he stated, was chargeable for the wide-bodied cabin and the higher deck which gave the airplane its distinctive hump.

The “bubble” additionally allowed airways to create the texture of a personal membership for premium passengers.

The primary impact on the airline trade, although, was that it greater than doubled the variety of obtainable seats. Air journey was democratised: from 1970, when the 747 entered service, fares began falling and horizons have been broadened.

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Isn’t it a bit lengthy within the tooth?

That is an plane that was designed within the 1960s. All of these flown by British Airways have been assembled within the 1990s; Virgin Atlantic’s fleet could be very barely youthful, with the most recent delivered in 2001.

But the 747 is slightly like a dependable outdated automobile: the acquisition worth was paid off years in the past, it’s well-liked with passengers (particularly BA’s premium prospects) and as long as the value of gas doesn’t rise too excessive it’s an environment friendly approach for Virgin Atlantic to get 455 folks to and from Florida and the Caribbean.

The carbon footprint is far heavier per passengers than extra trendy plane: the Airbus A380 “SuperJumbo” is greater, quieter and extra gas environment friendly. However the 747 has outsold it by six to 1. The primary double-decker Airbuses are actually being damaged up for components, making the A380 look extra like an endangered species nowadays.

How massive is it?

Size: 232 ft (71 metres). Wingspan: 211 ft (64 metres). Peak 69 ft (19.Four metres).

If you happen to choose your measures in Routemaster double-deckers, that’s eight buses lengthy, seven buses large and four-and-a-half buses tall.

How is the 747 powered?

4 engines (generally, if a spare is being flown underneath one of many wings, 5). British Airways’ fleet is fitted with Rolls Royce RB211-524H engines.

How briskly?

The utmost airspeed is 614mph (988km/h). Over the bottom, the velocity might be considerably larger with a tailwind. However the typical cruising velocity is 565mph (910km/h). A 747-400 sometimes takes off at 180mph (290km/h) and lands at 160mph (260km/h).

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How far?

The said vary of BA’s Jumbo fleet is 8,357 miles (13,450km), which is greater than sufficient for the longest British Airways route, from London to Santiago in Chile.

The longest often scheduled route was from Sydney to Dallas-Fort Price, with Qantas. The gap is 8,578 miles (13,802km) – though the inbound flight, sometimes hampered by headwinds, needed to land in Brisbane to refuel, as that was half-an-hour shorter.

When did UK airways begin flying the airplane?

Jumbo jets have been first flown by BOAC (long-haul predecessor to British Airways) on 14 April 1971, a yr after the primary planes have been delivered; an industrial dispute between the airline and its pilots meant that the 747s sat on the bottom.  

Virgin Atlantic began operations in June 1984 utilizing a secondhand 747 to fly between Gatwick and New York Newark.

What number of passengers?

That is determined by the airline’s chosen configuration. The high-density 747s deployed on Japanese home routes carried as much as 550. Virgin Atlantic has 455 seats on its Jumbo jets. However British Airways has not more than 345 seats on its 747s, and on a few of the planes solely 275; these are often known as “Tremendous Excessive-J”, code due to the massive variety of Membership World seats.

Throughout its lifetime, the world’s 747 fleet has flown 3.5 billion folks – the equal of half of the world’s inhabitants.

How do I get to fly on one?

Heathrow is the heartland of the 747, with way more of them serving the airport than some other. It’s the bottom for British Airways, which has 34 of them and intends to nonetheless be flying the Jumbo in 5 years’ time. By February 2024, the youngest can be 1 / 4 of a century outdated.

All BA’s 747s are primarily based at Heathrow, and fly to the US locations of Boston, Las Vegas, Mexico Metropolis, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco, in addition to Cape City, Dubai and Lagos. 

Virgin Atlantic makes use of the 747 primarily for flying to Orlando in Florida, from Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow. Registrations for its fleet embody G-VAST and G-VBIG.

To fly on the most recent model of the Jumbo, the 747-8, Frankfurt is an efficient place to begin; Lufthansa is among the few airways to function the jet.

It’s three weeks to the 50th anniversary of the primary Concorde flight. Why has the Jumbo endured a lot longer?

It represents an excellent enterprise proposition for connecting the world – sure, at lower than half as quick as Concorde, however way more effectively. Whereas the British and the French went for velocity and elegance, the People have been centered on one thing rather more practical.

Within the phrases of Juan Trippe, the boss of Pan Am – the primary airline to fly the Jumbo, from New York to London, jet journey allowed travellers to “roam the 4 corners of the world, assembly in friendship and understanding the folks of different nations and races”. 

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What concerning the accident document?

The 747 has been concerned in lots of tragedies. The world’s worst aviation accident, on 27 March 1977, came about at Tenerife North Airport when a KLM Jumbo started to take off in fog and struck a Pan Am 747, with the lack of 583 lives.

The worst single-aircraft accident in historical past additionally concerned a 747, on a home flight in Japan. On 12 August 1985, 520 passengers and crew misplaced their lives when a badly repaired rear bulkhead failed and triggered an explosive decompression.

A Soviet fighter jet shot down a Korean Air 747 on 1 September 1983 when it strayed into USSR air house on a flight from Anchorage to Seoul. All 269 passengers and crew aboard have been killed

On 21 December 1988, Pan Am 103 was destroyed on the Heathrow-JFK route; 259 passengers and crew died when the Jumbo was blown up by a terrorist bomb, whereas one other 11 perished on the bottom within the Scottish city of Lockerbie. 

Greatest use of an outdated 747?

The Jumbo Keep hostel at Arlanda airport in Stockholm. An evening in a dorm mattress prices SEK450 (£38).