Boeing 747: A Peek Into The World’s Most Popular Commercial Jet

admin - August 20, 2021 - 0 comments

While they might not be used commercially anymore, the Boeing 747 continues to be the most popular commercial jet that has ever been built. Many passengers have enjoyed a trip or two on the luxurious, gigantic airship, and the feat of building such a huge plane will go down in history as a great achievement for the aerospace industry. In this blog, we’ll dive into what went into creating the 747, the achievements it accomplished, and more.

History of the 747

In the 1960s, Joe Sutter led development on Boeing’s 747 and helped build what would become the world’s most popular commercial jet. Originally built to hold about 400 people, the 747 was twice the size of its predecessor, the Boeing 707. It originally used a high-bypass turbofan engine when it took its first flight in 1969, then opted for GE CF6 and Rolls-Royce RB211 engines instead, offering more power and stability.

Pan Am was the first airline to use the 747, ordering twenty-five of the planes in 1966 and entering service in 1970. Since the ‘60s, the 747 spawned many variants of different power levels, sizes, and weights, but they all had one thing in common: they were huge. At 225 feet long with a tail six stories tall, the world had never seen a bigger aircraft.

How It’s Made

Built in the world’s largest building, the Boeing 747 was created by a team of around 50,000 people. Boeing, the manufacturer for the plane, said that “following the loss of the competition for a gigantic military transport, the C-5A, Boeing set out to develop a large advanced commercial airplane to take advantage of the high-bypass engine technology developed for the C-5A.”

A great leap forward for commercial air travel, this C-5A technology helped the largest plane take off with a fully-boarded weight of about 833,000 lbs, or 378 tonnes. This incredible feat was born from the work of aerospace engineers, mechanics, construction workers, secretaries, and administrators who all came together to further air travel for everyday people.


The Boeing 747 is attributed with forever changing the way that airplanes were designed. In fact, the world’s first jumbo jet broke records for how large it was, showing that it was possible to fly hundreds of people across the world in comfort and class. 

One of the more iconic features of the Boeing 747 is its upward-tilted nose. The aircraft was actually designed to only ferry passengers for a few years, as supersonic transport was projected to be the next big thing. After its retirement, the plane was supposed to be converted to a freight jet. With this in mind, the designers decided to make room for the plane to have a fuselage loading ramp. To make room for this, they needed to shift the flight deck upward, giving the airplane its upward-tilted nose.

Another staple of the 747 was its lounges in the ‘70s, which were actually created in the empty space left by lifting the flight deck above the fuselage area. This gap, it was decided, would become a first-class lounge for wealthy passengers to entertain. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, it was a privilege to be able to travel by air. This meant that a lounge was the perfect addition to the interior of the plane. In the late ‘70s, however, commercial airlines began lowering prices, and the 747 had to adapt for cheaper airfare, converting many of the lounges to hold more seating.

Setting the Precedent

Boeing’s 747 commercial jet did more than show off how luxurious it was; in fact, we still use many of the interior design choices from the 747 in current aircraft. The 747 was the first airplane to have overhead compartments, for example. Before, planes usually have coat and hat racks like popular trains at the time. Another feature we still use is indirect lighting, which can be seen today in the form of the small lightbulb overhead that each seat can control. The 747 was also the first commercial aircraft to offer regular in-flight entertainment, which has become a staple in today’s airplanes.

This large commercial jet has directly influenced how we build aircraft today, with many features and design elements we would never think of going without. The amount of research the 747 team did to enhance the passenger experience was ahead of its time, with entire divisions dedicated to the process. Boeing continues to push the envelope with newer airplanes like the 787 Dreamliner, “which alters lighting, air pressure, and humidity inside the cabin to mitigate the effects of jet lag and create a more comfortable in-flight experience”, according to Architectural Digest. We owe a lot to that first 747 for changing the way we travel by air today, even for space flights. In 2014, however, the 1,500th Boeing 747 left the factory for Germany’s Lufthansa airline, and has since been discontinued.

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