EVERETT, Wash., Feb. 09, 2004 -- Thirty-five years ago today, Boeing [NYSE: BA] changed commercial aviation history with the first flight of the world's most recognizable airplane -- the 747.
Known as the "Queen of the Skies," the 747 has carried 3.6 billion people more than 35 billion nautical miles (64.8 billion km) -- equivalent to 74,000 round trips to the Moon -- since entering service in 1970.
"The 747 is a cultural icon that continues to change the world by connecting people like never before," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally. "Thanks to airplanes like the 747 and our twinjet 777, people take affordable, long-range non-stop travel for granted. It's easy to forget how rare that was before the 747 helped shrink the globe."
To date, Boeing has delivered 1,341 747s. After building the 747-100/-200/-300/-400 airplanes, Boeing in 2000 launched the 747-400 Extended Range. That modern airplane is available in passenger and freighter versions, offering a range of 7,670 nautical miles (14,203 km).
Boeing is now studying the 747 Advanced, which would incorporate technologies being developed for the all-new, highly efficient 7E7 airplane. The result would be a 747 that's quieter, more fuel efficient, and more environmentally friendly than competing jetliners.
The 747 Advanced would be the only 400- to 500-seat jetliner, offering 8,000 nautical mile (14,816 km) range capacity and the best economics of any in the large-airplane class. The airplane would enter service toward the end of the decade.
"The 747 is a remarkable machine," said Brien Wygle, co-pilot on the first 747 flight. "It's always a special moment when you raise its nose and take to the air. There's no question it was on Feb. 9, 1969, when we first took the 747 to the skies."