When Boeing first announced plans for the boeing 747 “Jumbo Jet” in 1966, it seemed almost too big to fly. Skeptics predicted catastrophic crashes, crumpled runways, and gridlocked passenger terminals.
But the boeing 747 has become the most famous and successful airliner of all time, a revolutionary aircraft that has reigned unchallenged for 35 years and earned Boeing an estimated $100 billion in sales. That’s almost certainly the largest figure for any single industrial product in history.
1) The first Boeing flew in February 1969, just five months before Apollo 11 landed on the moon.
2) The 747 was over 2.5 times larger than the Boeing 707, which was one of the most common commercial aircraft at the time.
3) One of the main reasons the upper deck was designed was to allow the 747 to be easily converted into a cargo aircraft. At the time, designers thought supersonic transports would quickly make the 747 obsolete, and its role as a cargo aircraft was essential.
4) The original 747 design had the upper deck running the entire length of the fuselage, but because the plane couldn’t safely be evacuated in the FAA mandated 90 seconds, the idea was thrown out.
5) Complex high-lift devices were used so the 747 could operate out of existing airports. Leading edge slats and three-part fowler flaps increase the wing area by 21%, and increase lift by up to 90%
6) Boeing didn’t have a facility large enough to build the 747, so they had to construct a new assembly plant in Everett, WA. The project timeline was so aggressive that the first 747 mockup was built before the building’s roof was finished. The plant is still the largest building by volume in the world.
7) There are 365 switches, dials, and lights in the incredibly confusing cockpit
8) Since 1969, 1,494 747s have been built.
9) As of October 2015, the 747 has been involved in 131 accidents or incidents, including 60 hull-loss accidents, resulting in 3,718 fatalities. The 747 has been in 31 hijackings, which caused 24 fatalities.
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