Boeing took another huge step in the continuing evolution of the world's most recognized jetliner -- the 747 -- by launching new and more capable versions of the airplane that changed the world.
The 747-400ER (extended range) family -- available in both passenger and freighter versions -- provides the same size as current 747-400s, but offers an even more unbeatable combination of payload and range.
Launched by Qantas Airways and ILFC
With Qantas Airways' order in November 2000 for six of these new, longer-range jumbo jets, the 747-400ER was launched into production, and entered service in November 2002.
Boeing launched the 747-400ER Freighter in April 2001 -- with an order from International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) for five freighter airplanes, the first of which entered service in October 2002. The 747-400ER is the Boeing answer to customer demand for a more capable 747-400 that has new features and is easy to integrate into existing fleets. The 747-400ER family has an increased takeoff weight of 910,000 pounds (412,770 kg). This takeoff weight increase of 35,000 pounds (15,876 kg) over existing 747-400s allows operators to fly about 410 nautical miles (760 km) farther or carry up to 15,000 pounds (6,800 kg) more payload, either in the form of extra cargo or a full load of 416 passengers.
The 747-400ER passenger airplane has a range of 7,670 nautical miles (14,205 km). This version also is available as a freighter and could be developed into a Combi airplane, with passenger seating in the forward section and cargo in the aft main deck.
Passenger Version Has New Boeing Signature Interior
The 747-400ER cabin is distinguished by a new curved, upswept architecture known as the Boeing Signature Interior. Not only does this modern look provide a more spacious and pleasing appearance, the installation of 777-style overhead "pivot" bins increases stowage. Passengers will also appreciate the lavatory enhancements found in the new interior.
Overall, 747-400ER passengers enjoy 15 percent more volume for carry-on items, including roll-aboard bags, laptop computers and other luggage. The new bins have been thoughtfully designed so as to accommodate over 30 percent more roll-aboard bags. The upper deck of the 747-400ER has a dramatic increase in stowage volume, with passengers gaining more than 100 percent more space for carry-on bags.
Standard on the 747-400ER and optional on the 747-400 is the Boeing Signature Interior. Boeing is also offering retrofit packages that would allow the 622 747-400s in service today as passenger airplanes to incorporate the new interior.
Freighter Version: Flies Farther and Carries More
With the lowest operating cost per ton-mile in the industry, the 747-400ER Freighter improves on what is already the most capable cargo transport in the industry.
The 747-400ER Freighter has a maximum takeoff weight of 910,000 pounds (412,770 kg). This takeoff weight increase over existing 747-400 Freighters allows the 747-400ER Freighter to fly an additional 525 nautical miles (972 km). Or, it can carry an additional 22,000 pounds (9,980 kg) of payload on long-range flights at maximum takeoff weight.
747-400 Freighters can carry twice as much cargo, twice as far, as the competitor's leading freighter. Along with earlier versions, 747 Freighters -- about 250 in all -- carry nearly half the world's freighter air cargo.
Comparisons to Baseline 747-400
The 747-400ER airplanes, both passenger and freighter, have the same familiar shape as the baseline 747-400.
The passenger version also has an auxiliary fuel tank (and a second optional auxiliary tank) located in the lower lobe's forward cargo compartment.
To support the 35,000 pounds (15,876 kg) of additional takeoff weight capability, both 747-400ERs incorporate strengthened fuselage, landing gear, and parts of the wing, along with new, larger tires.
The extended-range airplanes have the same advanced flight deck as the baseline 747-400, but have introduced enhancements that are used on all 747s, such as new, more reliable Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) and cockpit noise reductions
From an operations and maintenance perspective, the 747-400ER airplanes are virtually identical, using the same spare parts pool and sharing the same type rating for pilots.
To date, five customers have ordered 38 of the 747-400ERs -- in both passenger and freighter versions.
An Eye Toward the Future
The 747's future is as bright as its past is legendary. In November 2005, Boeing launched the next-generation 747, called the 747-8, with Cargolux and Nippon Cargo Airlines. The 747-8 family includes the 747-8 Intercontinental passenger airplane and the 747-8 Freighter.
The 747-8 combines even greater capacity with 787 engine technology -- the most advanced commercial airplane propulsion technology in the world -- for quieter airplanes that produce lower emissions, achieve better fuel economy than any competing jetliner, and fly faster -- at .86 Mach -- than any other jetliner. The 747-8 Intercontinental is the only jetliner in the 400- to 500-seat market. Airlines benefit from the lowest operating costs and best economics of any large passenger or freighter airplane.