Boeing 747 Guide and Specs: Long Live the Queen

The Boeing 747 is easily one of the most iconic passenger aircraft in the world and possibly many others. This quad-engined, double-decker behemoth of an aircraft single-handedly ushered in a new age of aviation, and in the process earned itself multiple names. It’s been called the “Super Jet” and the “Jumbo Jet”, but it is the undisputed “Queen of the Skies”.

Every pilot wants to be behind the controls of one, and yours truly is one of them, but I was born too late and lack the type rating, not to mention the hours. But what I can do is educate every single budding aviator and aviation enthusiast who reads this aviator insider piece on what makes the Boeing 747 so special, because this queen deserves it.

boeing 747

History

The B707 helped Boeing usher in the era of commercial jetliners and revolutionized air travel and it was the catalyst for the modern age of aviation. The B707 might’ve paved the way for the B747, but the actual groundwork for the B747 is credited to the U.S Military. 

In the early 1960’s the U.S Air Force needed a replacement for its aging Douglas C-133 Cargomaster. The project was named the Cargo Experimental-Heavy Logistics System (CX-HLS). Landing a defense contract is a guaranteed source of revenue for any contractor, so Boeing, along with the competition,  raced to the drawing board to produce a large military transport aircraft.

The iconic hump of the B747 can also be credited to the military’s need for the aircraft to be loaded from the front, which made Boeing integrate the cargo door into the nose cone. The cargo door would open upwards, which meant that the cockpit will need to be placed higher to maintain visibility. 

To remedy this, Boeing created a secondary deck to house the cockpit, the secondary deck would also extend outward to make room for personnel being transported, this is how the iconic hump came to be. Boeing would eventually lose out on the CX-HLS contract, but the work would pay out dividends later. 

Boeing’s efforts with the B707 meant that traveling by plane had now become a viable form of transportation, but it was expensive and only the upper echelon of society could afford it. Boeing’s biggest customer at the time and launch customer of the B707, Pan American World Airways, wanted to bring air travel to the masses and make air travel the norm and not a novelty. 

Pan Am’s president at the time, Juan Trippe is famously known for asking Boeing to build an aircraft that is two and a half times larger than the 707. The CEO of Boeing at the time, Bill Allen, called Trippe and asked him if he was dreaming. Trippe later said he had two reasons for his request, the first was to reduce costs by fitting in more passengers per route. And the second was to solve the problem of congestion at airports caused by smaller jets.

Juan Trippe had some sway in the design of the aircraft because Pan Am essentially commissioned the aircraft. He wanted a double-decker aircraft and wanted it to be a nose-loading aircraft. Trippe and the entire aviation industry thought that supersonic air travel would be the future and that the aircraft could be used as a freighter once it became the norm. 

Pan Am would go on to order 25 aircraft, the order cost them $550 million, which at the time was the most expensive single order ever placed by an airline. Trippe gave Boeing another challenge: he wanted the aircraft to be delivered in three years. A mammoth task, but one Boeing took up, even though it didn’t even have a factory large enough to build such a plane.  

In 1966, the development of the first jumbo jet began.

Development

The project was given the designation 747, and Boeing set out to build a team to bring the aircraft to life. The project was overseen by Jack Steiner, the vice president of product development, and then handed over to Mal Stamper, the general manager. Joe Sutter, who is now known as the father of the B747, was transferred over from the B737 program as the projects chief engineer. 

Almost immediately one of Trippe’s requirements for the project proved to be problematic. The law required that an aircraft design had to allow passengers to evacuate in 90 seconds. The proposed double-decker design was too high off the ground to execute an evacuation, so the team convinced Trippe that a 20 ft (6 m) wide-body design was the way forward. 

When Pan Am executives visited Boeing to check on the progress of the project, Trippe and his associates noticed the hump in the design and asked what the area outside the cockpit would be used for. Boeing personnel told him that it would be used by the crew to rest after exhausting their duty times, as the flights would be extremely long. 

Trippe axed the idea right there and said he wanted the space to be utilized for the passengers. Trippe’s decision is what led to the upper deck becoming the iconic bar and lounge that the B747 is known for today. 

boeing 747

Too Big to Build

While the B747 was taking shape, Boeing had another problem to solve: it didn’t have a facility large enough to build the aircraft it was designing. The management at Boeing was working against the three-year deadline that Trippe had set and needed to build an entirely new manufacturing plant capable of building what would be the largest airliner at the time. 

Everett, Washington was chosen as the location for the plant and the company broke ground in the summer of 1966. In May 1967, construction was completed and the resulting building was the world’s largest by volume measuring 472,370,319 ft³ (13,385,378 m³).

Pratt and Whitney Power

The Boeing 747 was so large that the team considered four engines as the minimum. However, the low-bypass turbofan engines at the time weren’t up to the task of powering it. Boeing teamed up with Pratt and Whitney to become the launch partner of its new high bypass turbofan engine, the JT9D.

The JT9D has a bypass ratio of 4.8:1 and produced 43,500 lbf (193 kN), it was certified on January 9th, 1970, 13 days before the first Boeing 747 entered service. On January 22nd, it would become the first engine high-bypass engine to power a wide-body airliner. As time went by, General Electric and Rolls-Royce would come up with powerplants for the B747 as well, but Pratt and Whitney paved the way.

Specifications

The Boeing B747 has spawned nearly 20 variants, (not including military variants) over its 54-year production run. We can’t go over the specifications for every model. Instead, the specification table below will show the evolution of the B747 during its lifetime. We’ve chosen two of the most popular older variants and the last variant to represent its evolution.

Model  B747-200 B747-400* B747-8I
Exterior Dimensions
Length 231 ft 4 in (70.51 m) 70.60 m 250 ft 2 in (76.30 m)
Height 63 ft 5 in (19.33 m) 19.40 m (63 ft 6 in) 63 ft 6 in (19.40 m)
Wingspan 195 ft 8 in (59.64 m) 211 ft 5 in (64.40 m) 224 ft 5 in (68.40 m)
Wing Sweep 37.5°
Wing Area 5500 ft² (511 m²) 5,650 ft² (525 m²) 5,963 ft² (554 m²)
Cabin Dimensions
Width 20 ft 1 in (6.1 m)
Freight Volume
Underfloor LD1 6,190 ft³ (173.3 m³) 6,025 ft³ (170.5 m³) 6,190 ft³ (173.3 m³)
Weights
Basic Empty Weight 358,000 lbs (162,500 kg) 406,900 lbs (184,567 kg) 485,300 lbs (220,128 kg)
Maximum Ramp Weight 738,000 lbs (334,750 kg) 877,000 lbs (397,800 kg) 989,000 lbs (448,600 kg)
Maximum Take-Off Weight (Max) 735,000 lbs (333,400 kg) 875,000 lbs (396,890 kg) 987,000 lbs (447,696 kg)
Maximum Landing Weight (Max) 564,000 lbs (225,800 kg) 630,000 lbs (285,760 kg) 688,000 lbs (312,000  kg)
Maximum Zero Fuel 526,500 lbs (238,820 kg) 544,000 lbs (246,754 kg) 651,000 lbs (295,000 kg)
Performance
Range 4,620 nm (8,556 km) 7,262 nm (13,450 km) 7,730 nm (14,310 km)
Cruise Mach Number Mach 0.82 Mach 0.85 Mach 0.855
Maximum Operating Mach Number Mach 0.92
Maximum Fuel Capacity (Volume) 48,445 ug gal (183,380 l) 57,285 us gal (216,840 l) 63,034 us gal (238,610 l)
Takeoff Distance (SL, ISA, MTOW) 10,465 ft (3,190 m) 10,170 ft (3,100 m) 9970 ft (3,040 m)
Service Ceiling 43,100 ft (13,137 m)
Engine Option One Thrust  43,500 lbf (193 kN) 56,742 lbf (252.4 kN) 266,500 lbf (296 kN)
Engine Option Two Thrust 46,150 lbf (205.3 kN) 58,000 lbf (258 kN) N/A
Engine Option Three Thrust 46,500 lbf (206.8 kN) 57,888lbf (257.5 kN) N/A
Wake Turbulence Category H
Approach Category D
Occupancy
Flight Crew 3 2 2
Occupancy (3-Class) 366 416 467
Occupancy (2-Class) 452 524 605
Occupancy Max 480 660 N/A
Systems
Flight and Avionics  Boeing 747-100 Cockpit Analog Combination of Rockwell Collins, Honeywell, Smith Industries, Rockwell Collins Navigation, and Communiation Suite, WXR-2100 Weather Radar, DU-7001 LCD Displays
Engine Option One (x4) Pratt & Whitney JT9D-3A Pratt & Whitney PW4056 General Electric GEnx-2B67
Engine Option Two (x4) Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7A Rolls Royce RB211-524 G/H N/A
Engine Option Three (x4) General Electric CF6-45A2 General Electric CF6-80C2B4 N/A
Auxiliary Power Unit AlliedSignal 331-660 Pratt and Whiteney PW901A Pratt and Whitney PW901C

*The B747-400 model referenced below is the international model which has winglets fitted. 

Boeing 747 Orders and Deliveries

The table below outlines the orders and deliveries by type. 

Variant Orders Deliveries Backlog
747-100 167 167 N/A
747-100B 9 9
747-100SR 29 29
747SP 45 45
747-200B 225 225
747-200C 13 13
747-200F 73 73
747-200M 78 78
747-E4A 3 3
747-E4B 1 1
747-300 56 56
747-300M 21 21
747-300SR 4 4
747-400 442 442
747-400ER 6 6
747-400ERF 40 40
747-400F 126 126
747-400M 61 61
747-400D 19 19
747-8I 48 48
747-8F 107 107 3
Total 1,573 1,570 3

Boeing 747 Performance Characteristics

The Boeing 747 was unlike any other commercial jetliner when it was introduced, and even today remains only one of two passengers “jumbo jets”, the second being the Airbus A380. The size of the aircraft gave it unique characteristics that pilots deal with.  

The sheer size and weight of the B747 meant that even with its four engines and combined thrust of 192,000 lbs it could only take off and land at airports that had plenty of runway. Even the B747-8, which is the most powerful version of the aircraft requires up to 9,973 ft (3,040 m) to take off. Even if an airport did have a runway with the required length, it still doesn’t mean that an airport could handle the B747. 

Airport surfaces are designated a Pavement Classification Number (PCN), while aircraft are given an Aircraft Classification Number (ACN). The PCN and ACN have to be compatible for an aircraft to land and use the surfaces at an airport. These restrictions meant that the selection of airports the B747 could land at was smaller than for other aircraft, limiting the B747 to land at larger airports, at least initially. 

The Boeing 747’s performance numbers are dated in comparison to newer aircraft but managed to beat the Airbus A350 XWB to set a new record for the fastest subsonic transatlantic flight. The flight was completed in four hours and 56 minutes by a British Airlines B747-400 flying from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to Heathrow International Airport on the 9th of February, 2020.

Boeing 747 Configuration Options

Cabin Configuration

Each Boeing 747 had three base configurations. The three-class configuration was made up of first, business, and economy classes. The two-class configuration included business and economy classes. Finally, the single-class or maximum occupancy configuration included only economy class seats. 

Most often, airlines deviated from the base configurations and would ask Boeing for specific configurations for their aircraft. In the early days when air travel was all about glamour, the upper deck would often only house first-class passengers and be equipped with an exclusive lounge. This sort of configuration is still used by airlines such as Emirates but is not as prevalent globally. 

boeing 747 cabin

Engine Configuration

Initially, the airlines had little choice in which engine they could choose for their B747. The only engine available was the Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7A which had been custom built for the B747. As time went on, both General Electric and Rolls-Royce signed up to provide engines for the B747.

But why would airlines want to choose other engine options? Most airlines try to choose one that is the most cost-effective, reliable, and low-maintenance engine possible. But choosing an engine isn’t as black and white as it would seem. 

Some are better for short-haul flights, while others manage long-haul flights better. An airline might already have a relationship with an engine manufacturer and receive discounts on the engine they choose. However, a lesser-known factor that affects engine choice is politics. 

Almost all the B747s operated by British Airlines are powered by Bristish-built Rolls-Royce engines. British Airlines buys Rolls Royce engines, and Rolls Royce offers them discounts on the cost of the unit and maintenance. This mutual understanding serves to help both entities survive.

An airline takes into account all these factors, studies the options, and chooses the engine it expects to perform the best for its operations. 

Boeing 747 Price

An airplane named the “Queen of the Skies” comes with a hefty price tag, and throughout its 54-year production run, the B747 has always been one of the most expensive aircraft on the planet.

  • The original B747-100 was first introduced on 9th February 1970, and cost Pan Am $24 million, which when adjusted for inflation in 2022, brings the total to $160 million. 
  • The smaller B747 Special Performance or SP, was created to steal away market share from the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar and McDonnell Douglas DC-10. The aircraft was released in 1973 and sold for $23 million, that’s $154 million in 2022 money.
  • The second generation B-747-200 was released in 1976 and would cost $192 million today, or $39 million in its year of manufacture.
  • The third generation of the B747, often called the forgotten variant is the B747-300. It was produced between 1983 and 1990. The aircraft cost customers $83 million in 1983, the equivalent of $232 million today. 
  • The B747-400 is the most popular variant of the aircraft and shares the top step of the podium with the original variant for the longest production run – 16 years. When it was first introduced in 1989, the B747-400 cost an eye-watering $156 million, which equals $350 million today. 
  • The most recent variant of the B747 is the B747-8. This variant currently costs $418 million. Unfortunately, money won’t get you a brand-new B747-8. Boeing decided to retire the aircraft in 2022 and will cease production after the final aircraft is delivered to Atlas Air in October. The original price of this variant when it was first released in 2008 was $315 million, equal to $405 million when adjusted for inflation. 

Boeing 747 Operational Costs

The Boeing 747 managed to bring down the cost of flying enough to make aviation accessible to the masses. However, operating a quad-engine double-decker aircraft with an MTOW of 738,000 lbs (334,750 kg) was never going to be cheap. High operational costs became the Achilles heel of the aircraft, and when twin-engine aircraft that could rival the range of the B747 arrived on the market, the fate of the jumbo jet was sealed. 

Crew Salary

A fully loaded Boeing 747 can carry anywhere from 300 to 660 passengers. The FAA states that there has to be one flight attendant for 50 passengers. So on a fully loaded long-haul flight, there would be a minimum of 12 flight attendants aboard the aircraft. The average pay for a flight attendant in 2022 is $42,500 a year, which means the cabin crew will cost an airline $510,000 annually.

The original B747 required a flight crew of three, which comprised the captain, first officer, and flight engineer. However, advanced avionics systems installed in B747 models after the third generation have made the latter redundant. 

Airline pilots are only allowed to fly a total of 1,000 hours in 12 calendar months. A captain of a widebody jetliner at a major airliner makes an average of $354 per hour, while a first officer makes $92 per hour. Per annum, a captain will earn $324,000 and a first officer will make $92,000. 

The total cost of the flight crew for a B747 is $926,000 per annum, this amount doesn’t include the stipends and other benefits the crew earns over a year because they depend on the route flown and other variables. 

Fuel

Fuel is the largest cost of operating any aircraft. An Airbus A350 XWB, one of the next-generation aircraft that are touted as replacements for jumbo jets, burns 11,000 lbs/hr (5,500 kg/hr). In comparison, a B747-8 fitted with similar next-generation General Electric GEnx-2B67 engines burns  23,150 lbs (10,500 kg). The B747 burns more fuel simply because it has twice the number of engines. Anyway, it’s sliced, the B747 is simple too thirsty to be economical anymore. 

The fuel cost of a B747-8 per hour is $8,610, based on the price of a metric tonne of Jet-A1 fuel which is $820 in July 2022. On average a well-utilized B747 will fly 1,460 hours a year, which would bring the total yearly fuel cost to $12.57 million. 

boeing pilots

Boeing 747 Variants

The Boeing 747 has been around for more than 50 years and during its impressive production run has spawned more than 34 variants of both passenger and military variants combined, which is more than any other jetliner. There were supposed to be nine additional models, but these were undeveloped as the need for larger quad-engined died out. 

Given the sheer breadth of this topic going into detail for each variant in this guide is impossible, it deserves its guide. So let’s skim through them, for now. 

Commercial Variants

747-100SR

This model was created by Boeing at the request of Japan Airlines, which wanted a short-range high-capacity version of the B747. 

747SP

747SP

The Boeing 747 Special Performance or SP for short, was created by Boeing to compete against the Lockheed Martin L-1011 Tristar. The SP maintained the long range of the B747 but was shortened by 47 ft (14 m) shorter than the original.

The small airframe meant the SP could only manage an MTOW of 700,000 ( kg), 35,000 lbs less than the original. It also had a maximum occupancy of 297 in a three-class configuration, with which it could manage a range of 5,830 nm ( km).

747-200

747-200

The second generation of the B747 entered service in 1972. It was fitted with more powerful Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7A engines, this allowed the B747-200 to fly farther and have a higher payload than the B747-100. The B747-200 also came in both convertible and combination variants.

747-300

747-300

Often called the forgotten variant, this model was only in production for four years and only 81 units were built. The B747-300 featured a stretched upper deck, more powerful engines, and a longer range. The model was also available in a Combi and short-range versions. 

747-400

747-400

Easily the most popular generation of the B747, the 400 series was in production for 20 years during which 694 were built. The aircraft featured a longer fuselage, larger capacity, higher range, and more powerful engines. 

747-8

747-8

The final variant of the B747, the 8 series takes a lot of parts from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, most importantly its next generation, fuel-efficient General Electric GEnx-2B67 engines. The use of these engines allowed the aircraft to be economically viable, especially as a freighter until Boeing ended production in 2022. 

Special Purpose Variants

747-SOFIA

The SP was also chosen as the basis for this Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), which is an airborne observatory built by NASA and the German Aerospace Center.

747-LCF Dreamlifter

This variant of the B747 is especially unique. The Large Cargo Freighter (LCF) has a total volume of 65,000 ft³ (1,840 m³), which is three times the storage of the base aircraft, a B747-400F. The Dreamlifter has to be this large to serve its primary purpose of ferrying parts for the B787 Dreamliner over the globe. 

747 SCA

Boeing and Nasa joined forces to create two highly modified versions of the B747-100 which were capable of carrying the NASA Space Shuttle. The fuselage was fitted with anchor points where the shuttle would dock, allowing the aircraft to transport the shuttle.

Boeing 747 Competitors

The Boeing 747 didn’t truly have any competition until the Airbus A380 was introduced in 2007. By then large quad-engine jets were on their way out and Boeing knew this, which is why they didn’t create a competitor for the A380. 

airbus a380

Boeing 747 Accidents and Incidents

By the end of production in October of 2022, Boeing will have produced a total of 1574 B747s. The model has put in hundreds of thousands of flight hours over the last 54 years and will continue to do so until they are retired. 

During this time, there have been a total of 64 hull loss accidents, 29 of these accidents resulted in a loss of life. The following list outlines the details of these fatal accidents: 

  • November 20th, 1974; Lufthansa Flight LH540; 

Variant: B747-100;
Registration: D-ABYB;
Location: Nairobi, Kenya;
Cause: Pilot Error;
Phase: Takeoff;
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 59/157.

  • May 9th, 1976; Iranian Air Force;
    Variant: B747-131F

Registration: 5-8104
Location: Near Madrid, Spain
Cause: Lightning Strike
Phase: En route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 17/17.

  • March 27th, 1977; Pan Am Airways Flight PA1736  and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Flight KL4805

Variant: B747-121 and B747-206B

Registration: N736PA and PH-BUF
Location: Tenerife-Los Rodeos International Airport, Spain

Cause: Miscommunication, Pilot Error, and Collision

Phase: Taxi and Takeoff
Fatalities vs. Occupants: Pan Am (335/396), KLM (248/248), Total (538/644)

  • January 1st, 1978; Air India Flight AI855

Variant: B747-237B
Registration: VT-EBD
Location; 1.62 nm (3 km) West off Bombay-Santacruz Airport
Cause: Pilot Error
Phase; En route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 213/213.

  • November 19th, 198, Korean Air Lines Flight 015;

Variant: B747-2B2B
Registration: HL7445
Location: Seoul-Gimpo International Aiport, South Korea
Cause: Pilot Error
Phase; Landing
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 14/212.

  • September 1st, 1983; Korean Air Lines Flight KE007;

Variant: B747-230B
Registration: HL7442
Location: 20 nm (37 km) west off Sakhalinsk, Russia
Cause: Pilot Error and Missile Strike
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 296/296

  • November 27th, 1983; Avianca Flight AV011

Variant: B747-283M
Registration: HK-2910X
Location: 6.5 nm (12 km) south-east off Madrid Barajas Airport, Spain
Cause: Pilot Error and Controlled Flight into Terrain
Phase: Approach
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 181/192.

  • June 23rd, 1985; Air India Flight AI182 

Variant: B747-237B
Registration: VT-EFO
Location: 95 nm (176 km) west off Cork, Ireland
Cause: Sabotage
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 329/329.

  • August 12th, 1985; Japan Air Lines Flight JL123 

Variant: B747SR-46
Registration: JA8119
Location: 14 nm (26 km) southwest of Ueno Village, Tano district, Gunma prefecture, Japan
Cause: Explosive Decompression, Loss of Control
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 520/524.

  • November 28th, 1987; South African Airways Flight SA295

Variant: B747-244B
Registration: ZS-SAS
Location: 135 nm (250 km) Northeast off Mauritius
Cause: Sabotage
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 159/159.

  • December 21st, 1988; Pan Am Airways Flight PA103

Variant: B747-121A
Registration: N739PA
Location: Lockerbie, United Kingdom
Cause: Sabotage
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 259/259

Ground Casualties: 11

  • February 19th, 1989; Flying Tiger Line Flight 66

Variant: B747-249F
Registration: N807FT
Location: 6.4 nm (12 km) from Kuala Lumpur Subang International Airport, Malaysia
Cause: Miscommunication by ATC
Phase: Approach
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 4/4

  • December 29th, 1991; China Airlines Flight CI358

Variant: B747-2R7F
Registration: B-198
Location: Near Wanli, Taiwan
Cause: Pilot Error
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 5/5

  • October 4th, 1992; El Al Israel Airlines Flight 1862

Variant: B747-258F
Registration: 4X-AXG
Location: Bijlmermeer, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Cause: Design flaw
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 4/4

Ground Casualties: 39

  • July 17th, 1996; Trans World Airlines Flight TW800

Variant: B747-131
Registration: N93119
Location: 7 nm (13 km) south off East Moriches, New York, United States of America
Cause: Explosion of center fuel tank
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 230/230

  • November 12th, 1996; Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight SV763

Variant: B747-168B

Registration: HZ-AIH
Location: 2.7 (5 km) from Charki Dadri, India

Cause: Pilot error by other aircraft and mid-air collision
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 312/312

  • August 6th, 1997; Korean Air Lines Flight KE801

Variant: B747-3B5

Registration: HL7468
Location: 2.6 (4.8 km) southwest of Guam-Agana International Airport, Guam

Cause: Pillot error, CFIT and software failure
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 228/254

  • December 28th, 1997; United Airlines Flight UA826

Variant: B747-122

Registration: N4723U
Location: 826 nm (1,530 km) east-southeast off Tokyo, Japan

Cause: Clear air turbulence
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 1/393

  • December 22nd, 1999; Korean Air Lines Flight KE8509

Variant: B747-2B5F (SCD)

Registration: HL7451
Location: Great Hallingbury, United Kingdom

Cause: Pilot error and faulty instrument
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 4/4

  • October 31st, 2000; Singaporean Airlines Flight SQ006

Variant: B747-412

Registration: 9V-SPK
Location: Taipei-Chiang Kai Shek Airport

Cause: Pilot error and ground collision
Phase: Takeoff
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 83/179

  • November 27th, 2001; MK Airlines

Variant: B747-246F

Registration: 9G-MKI

Location: Near Harcourt, Nigeria

Cause: Pilot error and non-standard procedures

Phase: Approach

Fatalities vs. Occupants: 1/13

  • May 25th, 2002; China Airlines Flight CI611

Variant: B747-209B

Registration: B-18255
Location: 26 nm (45 km) northeast off Penghu islands, Taiwan

Cause: Fuselage failure and subsequent loss of control
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 225/225

  • October 14th, 2004; MK Airlines Flight 1602

Variant: B747-244BSF

Registration: 9G-MKJ

Location: Halifax International Airport, Canada

Cause: Incorrect takeoff data, pilot error, and ground collision
Phase: Takeoff
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 7/7

  • Monday 7th, 2008; Centurion Air Cargo Flight 164

Variant: B747-209BSF

Registration: N714CK

Location: 5.4 nm (10 km) west of Bogotá-Eldorado Airport, Colombia

Cause: Engine fire and loss of control
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 0/2

Ground Fatalities: 2

  • September 3rd, 2010; United Parcel Service Flight 6

Variant: B747-44AF (SCD)

Registration: N571UP

Location: 9 nm (16.7 km) south of Dubai Airport, United Arab Emirates

Cause: Fire, damage to control cables, and excessive smoke impaired pilot’s ability to fly the aircraft
Phase: Approach
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 2/2

  • July 28th, 2011; Asiana Airlines Flight OZ991

Variant: B747-48EF

Registration: HL7604

Location: 70.2 nm (130 km) west off Jeju, South Korea

Cause: Fire, fuselage separation, and loss of control
Phase: En Route
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 2/2

  • April 29th, 2013; National Air Cargo Flight NCR102

Variant: B747-428BCF

Registration: N949CA

Location: Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan 

Cause: Change in CG due to the movement of inadequately restrained cargo
Phase: Takeoff
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 7/7

  • January 16th, 2017; ACT Airlines Flight TK6491

Variant: B747-412F

Registration: TC-MCL

Location: 0.5 (1 km) west of Bishkek-Manas International Airport, Kyrgyzstan

Cause: Pilot error and CFIT
Phase: Approach
Fatalities vs. Occupants: 4/4

Ground Casualties: 35

747 boeing

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Question: How many B747s have been produced?

Answer: At the end of 2022, Boeing will have produced 1,573 B747s.

Question: What is the max speed a B747 can reach?

Answer: The maximum Mach number a B747 can reach is Mach 0.92, although this is a limit and not a useable speed. 

Question: How many fatalities have occurred on Boeing 747s?

Answer: Including ground casualties, there have been a total of 3,791 lives lost. 

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References

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