Many people have climbed aboard a Boeing 747 plane, knowing that they are going to travel in style and safety to their destination. We accept airliner travel as a matter of everyday life, but there are some pretty amazing things to think about as you settle into your seat!
We all know that air travel has progressed since the first flight on December 17, 1903, when Orville Wright, flew for a distance of 120 feet. The economy section of the modern 747 is 30 feet longer than this first flight, meaning that the whole first flight could have been performed in the length of the economy section of the aircraft.
The statistics about the plane are endless and amazing
- The 747 is a vast plane, weighing 333,400 – 439,985kg on take off, containing 274 km of wiring and 8 km of tubing.
- There are 365 switches dials and lights in the cockpit, making it an exciting and very confusing place to work.
- The weight is distributed across 6 million parts, half of which are fasteners of different kinds.
- It has a wingspan of 60m, meaning that 4 of the tiny JN4-D ‘Jenny’ planes used in World War One could be parked across each of the wings with a little bit of room to spare.
- At 68.4m long, Usain Bolt would take 7 seconds to run from tip to tail.
- It is 19.35m high, about the height of a six story building
- 90 gallons of paint are needed to paint the whole fuselage
The 747 is a flexible plane with the configuration inside the plane having the potential to be changed to meet different needs. These conversions can take place overnight (eight hours is needed) so that the plane can be used extremely flexibly. In general it is able to accommodate 416 passengers in a typical three-class layout, 524 passengers in a typical two-class layout, or 660 passengers in a high density one-class configuration.
However, it once carried 1087 people at once, during Operation Solomon by the Isaeli Government in 1991, when Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to safety.
3.5 billion people (a figure rising every day) have flown in a 747. This is nearly half the total population of the earth 7.4 billion (another figure rising every day!).
15 of the planes have been specially converted, including Airforce One, the Space Shuttle carriers and E-5 military command centres.
So next time you have the opportunity to fly in a 747, sit back and reflect that you are flying in one of the most enduring and amazing planes we know. Imagine the talent and skill that has gone into the design and production of this technological wonder and the equally amazing talent and skill of the crew, in the plane and on the ground, who control and manage this aircraft, carrying you across the world in comfort and safety.