The Boeing 747 is the largest passenger airliner yet built and one of a class of airliners known as jumbo jets (though the under-construction Airbus A380 will be larger). The four-engined 747 combines passenger-carrying capacities of up to 450 people with its unique two-deck configuration (the small upper deck is usually used for business-class passengers), with high-subsonic speeds (0.85 Mach or 565 mph) and intercontinental range (8,430 statute miles, or 13,570 km, for the 747-400 version), in some configurations sufficient to fly Sydney-London non-stop (though no airline schedules such long routes).
Japan Airlines Boeing 747-400. The colour scheme has changed since
this photo was taken.
The 747-400 is the latest model of the 747s and is the only model in production. It added winglets, new flight decks and in-flight entertainment to the 300 series. The 747-400ER is 400's extended range version. The 747-400 extended the immediately noticeable 'hump' to the upper deck, which is considered the 747's most distinguishable feature.
The current U.S. Presidential aircraft, VC-25A, is among the most famous 747 models. It is popularly known as Air Force One, even though that name refers to any United States Air Force aircraft carrying the President. VC-25A is based on the civilian Boeing 747-2G4B. Other special 747s include four 747-200s which were converted for the U.S. Air Force to airborne emergency command and control posts, a 747 to transport the Space Shuttle and aerial refueling tankers.
The first edition of the jet, the 747-100, rolled out of the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington, USA on 2 September 1969. This factory is the largest building ever built. The 747-100 entered service in 1970. By July 2003, a total of 1372 aircraft had been built or ordered in various 747 configurations.