The Boeing 747 Classics

747-100| 747-200 | 747-300 | 747 Classics with special assignments

The mid-1960s saw the development and introduction of many new jetliners. None, however, has matched the dramatic impact of the 747. Increasingly crowded skies and the availability of large-thrust engines added to the incentive for creating the giant 747. It all began with the 747-100, the first in the 747 Classics series, which also includes the -200 and -300 models.

747-100 - The World's First Jumbo Jet

The 747-100 entered commercial service in 1970. Initially, engines only were available from Pratt & Whitney, but by 1975 engines also were available from General Electric and Rolls-Royce. Boeing delivered 250 of the 747-100s, the last in 1986. Boeing built two versions of the 747-100 passenger airplane, one of which had a higher payload capacity and was known as the -100B. The 747-100 also was available as a short-range airplane, which had a modified body structure to accommodate a greater number of takeoffs and landings. This model typically was used by airlines on short flights with a high-passenger capacity, as many as 550. Boeing also built the 747-100SP (special performance), which had a shortened fuselage and was designed to fly higher, faster and farther non-stop than any 747 model of its time.

747-200 - Continuing the Legacy

Although the 747-200 was developed after the 747-100, it was built during roughly the same time frame. The first -200 went into commercial service in 1971, and Boeing delivered a total of 393, the last in 1991. Although its external appearance is nearly identical to the 747-100, it was designed to carry more payload. In addition to being offered as a passenger airplane, the -200 was the first 747 to be configured as a freighter, a combination passenger-freighter and a convertible.

From the beginning, the 747 was designed to serve as an all-cargo transport. The first 747 Freighter could easily carry 100 tons (90,000 kg) across the Atlantic Ocean or across the United States. Its operating cost was 35 percent less per ton mile than the 707 Freighter. The 747 Freighter has a hinged nose to allow cargo loading through front of the airplane, with the option of a large side-cargo door.

The 747-200 Convertible was configured to serve as a passenger airplane, a freighter or a combination of both. This airplane responded to airlines' needs to carry different payloads at different times of the years, such as higher passenger capacities during the summer and more cargo during the winter. Similar to the convertible is the -200 Combi, which was designed to serve as a passenger-only airplane or as a passenger-freighter mix.

The combi has a large side-cargo door on the main deck, and is used by airlines to make better use of their routes during different times of the year. The convertible has a nose cargo door similar to the freighter.

747-300 - Moving Forward With Significant Changes

The 747-300 entered commercial service in 1983, and was the first to integrate the most significant changes of the 747 Classics. These changes included an extended upper deck and improved engines with a reduced fuel burn of 25 percent per passenger. In addition, passenger capacity increased 10 percent by extending the upper deck and relocating the new straight stairway to the rear of the upper deck (prior models had a spiral-shaped staircase in the center of the upper deck). Boeing delivered 81 747-300s in passenger, combi and short-range configurations, the last in 1990.

747 Classics With Special Assignments

Boeing has designed or modified 15 747s for special purposes. Among them are two 747-200s delivered as U.S. presidential Air Force One airplanes, and four 747-200s, designated E-4s, delivered to the U.S. Air Force as airborne emergency command and control posts. Another 747 was modified to ferry the U.S. space shuttle between California and Florida. Other 747s have been demonstrated as tankers capable of refueling other airplanes in flight.

In addition, Boeing completed modifications to 19 existing 747-100s to Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) configurations in 1990. If called into service by the U.S. Air Force, these passenger planes can be converted to freighters in less than 48 hours. Boeing donated the original 747, line No. 1, to Seattle's Museum of Flight. On lease to Boeing, it occasionally is used as a flying testbed for aeronautical developments.