Boeing 747

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Boeing 747
Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental
The first Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, registration number N6067E, in Boeing factory livery
Type: Four-engined wide-body aircraft
Design country:

United StatesUnited States United States


Boeing Commercial Airplanes

First flight:

February 9, 1969



Production time:

In series production since 1968, end of production planned for 2022

Number of pieces:

1556 delivered (15 ordered)
(status: end of July 2020)

The Boeing 747 , also a jumbo jet based on the elephant " Jumbo ", is a four- engine wide - body aircraft from the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing , which has been the world's largest passenger aircraft for several decades since it was developed in the 1960s. It made its maiden flight on February 9, 1969 and is one of the best known and most widely used types of aircraft . The machine is mainly used for civil purposes. Characteristic for the silhouette of the Boeing 747 is its “hump” ( upper deck ), in which the cockpit is located above the main passenger deck . In the course of development, the upper deck was lengthened in the passenger versions and expanded to form an ever larger second passenger deck, which in newer versions extends over the front third of the aircraft cabin . All variants with a long upper deck have large emergency exit doors on both sides in the middle of the upper cabin.

By December 2017, all of the passenger planes ordered had been delivered; 15 orders are still open for the freight version (status: end of July 2020). On July 29, 2020, Boeing announced the end of production of the 747. According to a press release, the last 747 will be installed in 2022.

Video of a Lufthansa Boeing 747 after arriving in Bremen
Jumbo jets for KLM , Dutch cinema news from 1971


The Boeing 747 prototype with the registration number N7470 on its first flight on February 9, 1969 over Puget Sound
The first prototype of the 747 - "City of Everett" in the Museum of Flight in Seattle

Even before Boeing lost the US Air Force's CX-HLS ( Cargo Experimental-Heavy Logistics System ) competition in 1965 for a new large transport aircraft against Lockheed with their C-5 Galaxy , Pan Am approached Boeing with the request for a passenger aircraft twice the capacity of the Boeing 707 .

The dialogue between Pan-Am boss Juan Trippe and Boeing boss William Allen is guaranteed , in which Trippe said: If you build it, I buy it (if you build it , then I'll buy it). To which Allen replied: If you buy it, I build it (if you buy it, I'll build it ). After Pan Am ordered 25 aircraft on April 13, 1966, development began. Chief engineer and (together with Juan Trippe and William Allen) the "father" of the Boeing 747 was Joe Sutter . The assembly of the first prototype began in January 1967, the rollout ceremony took place on September 30, 1968. At the time of its maiden flight on February 9, 1969, the 747 was the largest passenger aircraft in the world and remained so until the first flight of the Airbus A380 on April 27, 2005.

First, the 747 was planned as a double-decker (roughly two 707 fuselages one above the other) aircraft. The 747 should also be easy to convert into a freighter, since the American Boeing 2707 supersonic aircraft was to take over almost all intercontinental passenger flights as early as the mid-1970s (according to the plans at the time) . The conversion was not possible because of the difficult loading of the upper deck with cargo; in addition, it was feared that passengers would be difficult to evacuate from it. Ultimately, a circular hull with a large diameter was chosen, which enabled a previously unheard of large-capacity passenger cabin and, as a freighter, the loading of two rows of 8-foot (approx. 2.44 m) wide air freight containers / pallets of different lengths next to each other over the entire length of the cabin. Through the front door in the aircraft nose of the aircraft built as a freighter, z. B. up to 40 feet long air freight containers or other, even longer, freight can be loaded, the length and width of which are only limited by the cabin dimensions of the B 747. Due to the relatively pointed nose of the Boeing 747, however, the bow door that can be opened upwards (unlike on cargo planes, e.g. Lockheed C-5 , Antonow An-124 ) is not as wide as the full fuselage diameter, but only 3.45 m × 2.49 m tall, so the containers have to be loaded one after the other. The bow gate is also the reason the cockpit was moved to the upper deck. Behind this, a small additional passenger cabin was also created in the aerodynamically tapering upper deck. The upper deck floor limits the loading height through the bow door to approximately 8 feet. In order to be able to use the full height of the fuselage for loading 10 foot (3.05 m) high pallets with a maximum length of approximately 20 feet, the fuselage door on the rear left side must therefore be used. (In order to be able to load as many of these pallets as possible, the freight versions of the 747-400 and 747-8 also have the original short upper deck. This is also lighter, so that the payload increases.) The Boeing 747 itself does not come from Boeing's failed CX- HLS plans, but their first engine type was developed from P & W's inferior design for the CX-HLS competition.

At the time the 747 was developed, there was no experience with such large civil aircraft. They presented the Boeing engineers with some very demanding technical challenges. Among other things, the fuselage , wings , landing gear and engines had to be designed according to new design principles. For the final assembly of the 747, the Boeing Everett plant was built, which is the second largest building in the world after the New Century Global Center (measured by the enclosed space ).

Pan Am Boeing 747-100

At the beginning, all 747 versions were equipped with the Pratt & Whitney JT9D . This engine had been developed from the draft of the engine for the CX-HLS (Cargo Experimental-Heavy Logistics System), which was unsuccessful in the tender. Later, these were CF6-50 of General Electric and the RB211 of Rolls-Royce available, with the CF6 proved to be the most successful engine. Three different engines are available for the 747-400: General Electric CF6-80C2, Pratt and Whitney PW4000, and Rolls-Royce RB211. This high number of different engines led to problems, which is why it was decided to only use engines from one manufacturer for the latest version 747-8.

The original model 747-100 was not yet a commercial success; This was only brought about by the successor model 747-200 from 1970. It had more powerful engines (CF6-50), larger fuel tanks (by eliminating the water tanks to increase performance during take-off) and accordingly a larger maximum take-off weight and a greater range . The 747-200 was manufactured until 1992. A freight version of this variant was also offered for the first time, the first customer of which was Lufthansa .

Cockpit of a Boeing 747-200 in a special design for the KSSU group

Boeing revised the 747 up to version 400 rather evolutionarily. In the 747-200, different engines were used and the structure was modified for better durability, as the first copies got cracks in the area of ​​the upper deck prematurely. The 747-300 got a stretched upper deck, whereby the technology was hardly changed. Also with the 747-400, which was sold from 1988, one initially wanted to do without new technologies such as the glass cockpit , as it was already used by the competitor Airbus on the A320 , but due to the pressure of the airlines, especially Lufthansa, were the 747-400 heavily revised the cockpit and electronics. The number of instruments, displays and switches has been reduced from around 970 to around 370. The new avionics with partial automation made it possible to dispense with a flight engineer . The span was increased by 2 m and the wing tips were equipped with fuel-saving winglets .

In the mid-1990s, Boeing considered various further developments of the 747-400 in order to meet the emerging changes in the competitive situation by developing the current A380 . After no customers were found for these new variants of the 747, in contrast to the Airbus project, Boeing ended its 747X or 747X stretch plans and instead presented the Sonic Cruiser . The crisis in civil aviation shortly after the turn of the millennium - exacerbated by the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001  - also caused this project to fail. After civil aviation had recovered in 2004 and new, more economical engines were being developed, Boeing presented a plan for a more economical and quieter Boeing 747 variant under the name Boeing 747 Advanced . This was significantly smaller than the A380 and was intended to fill the gap in the market between the Airbus A340-600 and Boeing 777-300 as well as the A380. On November 15, 2005, this variant was presented to the public under the official name Boeing 747-8 . While the freight version 747-8F sold immediately, Boeing only received the first order from Lufthansa for 20 copies of the passenger version 747-8I on December 6, 2006 after a further fuselage extension and thus increased capacity.

On March 16, 2007, Boeing announced that it would cease production of the passenger version of the 747-400. As a result, three orders were canceled by Boeing. The last Boeing 747-400 passenger aircraft was delivered to China Airlines in April 2005 .

The market for the 747 has now shrunk significantly. Boeing has only had 153 orders for the current version 747-8 / -8F since 2005 (as of the end of July 2020). The airlines also took more 747 out of service than they reordered. The worldwide 747 fleet was reduced to just 685 units by 2013 - around 15 years earlier the airlines were still flying with more than 1,000 machines of this type.

The largest customer until 1983 was Pan American World Airways ("Pan Am"), then Japan Airlines (108 aircraft delivered by 2004).

On February 24, 2008, a regular Boeing 747-400 flew from Heathrow Airport in London to Amsterdam using biofuel instead of kerosene . The flight was supposed to provide the engineers with important insights into the use of biofuels. The use of biofuel in aviation poses a particular challenge, as it must be ensured that the fuel remains liquid even at an altitude of over 10,000 m and temperatures below −60 ° C and that it offers constant combustion performance.


Construction of the center fuselage to the wing box (center wing box)

The final assembly of the 747 takes place in the Boeing Everett plant, which was newly established for this purpose . This plant is home to the largest hall in the world (by volume). Here the fuselage center section is mounted around the wing center section , which connects the wings, and the front fuselage and the rear fuselage section are then attached to it.


Unless otherwise stated, this information relates to version 747-400 .


Three-sided view

The fuselage is an all-metal half - shell construction with a load-bearing outer skin that is riveted to longitudinal and transverse ribs . Passenger and cargo areas are designed as pressurized cabins . The front area of ​​the passenger compartment is two-story, the upper area also contains the cockpit , which results in an unusually high seating position for the pilots. The cargo hold is located under the passenger compartment. On each side of the fuselage there are five passenger doors on the main deck and one on the upper deck, of which the doors on the upper deck serve exclusively as an emergency exit. The exception is the shortened 747-SP, which only has four doors on each side of the fuselage of the main deck. There are more than 275 km of cable in the 747.

First Class in the bow area on the lower deck of a Boeing 747-400 of the Cathay Pacific

In the original version, the characteristic hump was only intended to allow the installation of a bow gate for easier loading and unloading of freight: While the lower levels were used entirely for freight transport, the cockpit and seating for the accompanying staff were housed in the hump. In later passenger versions, the upper deck was expanded several times to create additional passenger capacity, while pure cargo versions consistently feature a short upper deck.

There are other aircraft with a "hump" over the fuselage such as the Budd RB-1 Conestoga, the Bristol 170 , the Armstrong Whitworth Argosy and the Aviation Traders ATL-98 Carvair , which were based on the Douglas DC-4 from 1961 to 1969 was built and is considered the ideal predecessor of the Boeing 747. The Lockheed C-5 , Antonov An-124 and An-225 cargo planes also have a cockpit in the upper deck of the fuselage and a bow loading door, which in principle can be compared with that of the cargo versions of the 747. However, these do not have a hump, but the upper deck lies in front of the wings of the aircraft designed as shoulder -wing planes.

Due to the length, the fuselage twisted slightly during the flight, which was initially not sufficiently compensated for by the yaw dampers, so that a slow yaw oscillation occurred. This was discovered on a transatlantic flight to the Paris Air Show , during which some passengers became airsick in the stern . After shaking attempts, the error was localized and the yaw damper system adjusted. Since then, the effect has been reduced so much that it is no longer noticeable to passengers.


View of the cockpit of the Lufthansa Boeing 747-430 D-ABTA
Cockpit of a Boeing 747-400

The versions of the 747 to the 747-300 are flown by two pilots and a flight engineer. Without an inertial navigation system , a navigator was also part of the crew. The flight crew of the 747-400 and 747-8 consists of two pilots in a glass cockpit . This was mainly due to the will of Lufthansa involved in the development, as Boeing initially did not want to follow the trend towards the two-man cockpit initiated by Airbus. The cockpit of the 747-400 is slightly similar to the cockpit of the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767. In order to keep the retraining time from the 747-400 to the 747-8 short, the cockpit of the 747-8 was only slightly modernized compared to that of the previous model and innovations such as head-up displays were dispensed with. Pilots with the type rating for the 747-400 can fly the 747-8 faster with differentiation training, and there is no need for a significantly more expensive 747-8 own type rating .

Depending on the applicable legal regulations of the registration state and the contracts of the pilots, a third pilot flies on long-haul flights from a specified time or distance so that one of the pilots can rest during the cruise .

landing gear

Main landing gear of a Boeing 747

The chassis is retractable and is hydraulically operated. The nose landing gear is steerable. It carries a twin wheel and is drawn in towards the front. The main landing gear consists of four main girders with four wheels each. Two are located on the fuselage and steer under certain conditions, including up to a maximum deflection of 13 ° when the nose gear is turned at least 20 °. This is to reduce the minimum turning circle. These fuselage supports are drawn in towards the front. Two beams are attached to the wing and retracted inward. From the 747-400 onwards, all wheels of the main landing gear are equipped with carbon fiber reinforced brake discs and are controlled by a multi-channel anti- lock system. In the previous versions, steel was used as the friction lining. The turning circle diameter - measured at the wing tip on the outside of the curve - is 96.92 m.


Wing during landing when braking

The structure is self-supporting in all-metal construction. On each wing leading edge there are three Kruger flaps with a folding nose and nine (ten on the 747-400) variable camber flaps. Six spoilers are arranged on each wing, the outer four of which are also used for (aerodynamic) roll support (turning around the longitudinal axis). As further high lift aids , triple slotted flaps based on the Fowler system are mounted on the wing's trailing edge . The wings each have a mass of 12,700 kilograms.

Tail unit

The tail is as a self-supporting all-metal tail, in the standard version with trimmable as a whole tailplane executed.

In some versions of the 747 (747-100, 747-200, 747-SP), weights made of depleted uranium were installed in the tail unit in order to suppress flutter phenomena. This led to numerous discussions, which is why these were replaced by tungsten from around 1981 .

Horizontal Stabilizer Tank (HST)

The majority of the passenger versions are equipped with an additional tank in the horizontal stabilizer . The HST is used to expand the tank capacity and improve the center of gravity during take-off.

The HST is already filled on the ground during the refueling process depending on the total amount of fuel required (ramp fuel). If the ramp fuel exceeds a value of approx. 138 tons, the automatic refueling system distributes the kerosene between the center wing tank and the horizontal stabilizer tank in a ratio of 5.2: 1. If the amount of fuel in the center wing tank falls below 12,000 US gallons (approx. 36,366 kg) during the cruise, the kerosene is automatically transferred from the HST to the center wing tank.

In contrast to the long-haul aircraft from Airbus, in which kerosene can be pumped back and forth between the Center Wing Tank and the Horizontal Stabilizer Trim Tank (HSTT) for the purpose of trimming, the B747-400 does not transfer the kerosene to the HST during flight.

When testing the 747-8, flutter phenomena occurred on an aircraft , which Boeing attributed to the filled HSTs. The critical filling level that should not be exceeded was defined as 15%; the aircraft of the versions -8I and -8F will generally not be able to use the capacity of 3,000 US gallons of the tanks for safety reasons. The tanks themselves as well as the pipes and pumps remain in the aircraft. According to Boeing, this limits the range of the 747-8 by around 400 nautical miles (approx. 740 km), which is only a factor for VIP versions, because the passenger versions of the airlines due to the center of gravity do not or only to a small extent the tank anyway could use.

Boeing tries - mainly by adapting the software - to make the HST usable again until the first delivery of a VIP machine.

economic aspects

The list prices of the different Boeing 747 versions in 2008 were between 234 (747-400) and 308 (747-8) million US dollars . This means that the list price of a Boeing 747-400 is below that of the smaller, but younger Boeing 777-300ER with 257 to 286.5 million US dollars. Especially at the beginning of the market launch of the type (late 1960s, early 1970s), the Boeing 747 was also a prestige object. Having the 747 in their fleet was a must for reputable airlines.

The Boeing 747 can be classified in the market segment between the largest wide-body aircraft with only one passenger deck , the Airbus A340 -600HGW and the Boeing 777-300ER, and the Airbus A380 . In the latest model, the 747-8, it has a capacity of around 470 seats (in a typical 3-class configuration); on this scale it has a monopoly position. During the development of the Boeing 747-400, attention was paid to economic efficiency, which in comparison is still at a high level today. The new Boeing 747-8 model takes over some of the design features of the Boeing 787 . This leads to a further significant increase in economic efficiency and environmental compatibility.

According to the Lufthansa calculation method (Lufthansa seating, average occupancy, average block length typical for the model), the 747-400 version consumes 4.27 liters of kerosene per 100 passenger kilometers (pkm) (or 4.27 liters per passenger per 100 km). According to Boeing, the 747-8 should consume 15 percent less kerosene (3.63 l / 100 pkm), and according to Lufthansa 3.5 l / 100 pkm.


Civil variants


British Airways Boeing 747-100

The Boeing 747-100 was the first model in the 747 family and was nicknamed Jumbo soon after its appearance . A total of 205 machines were built of the 747-100 in all sub-variants. The last 747-100 built was a -100B SR with an extended upper deck, which Japan Air Lines received in September 1986. All 747-100s and their sub-types have been delivered from the factory as pure passenger aircraft. As a result of the lower number of passengers due to the first oil price crisis , numerous 747-100s were stored in the mid-1970s and subsequently converted into freight machines.

The first flight of the prototype took place on February 9, 1969. The first customer for the 747-100 was Pan American World Airways (Pan Am), which first used this type in scheduled service on January 22, 1970. The first European customer was Lufthansa , which received a total of three 747-100s. The 747-100 had an upper deck with three windows, which was to be used as a lounge area. Of the original version, 167 aircraft were produced, the last of which went to Pan Am on July 2, 1976.


At the beginning of 1974, Sabena had her two 747-100s from the Boeing subsidiary in Wichita (Kansas) converted into station wagons so that they could also transport cargo in the rear part of the cabin if necessary. For this purpose, the machines received a side cargo hatch ( S ide C argo D oor) in the rear left fuselage section and a reinforced floor in this area of ​​the main deck.


Like the 747-100SCD, the 747-100SF had a cargo hatch on the side, but in this conversion version the floor of the entire main deck was reinforced, so that it could be used as a pure cargo aircraft . The first SF conversions were carried out by the second Boeing plant in Wichita in 1974 for Flying Tiger Line . The converted aircraft were originally delivered to United Air Lines . Boeing received a total of 24 conversion orders from airlines. In addition, Boeing converted three 747-100s for the Iranian Air Force (IIAF) and 19 Pan-Am machines on behalf of the US armed forces. The latter remained in regular service at Pan Am and should only be used as a military transporter in the event of a crisis (see Section C-19 under military variants ).

A JAL Boeing 747-146B SR in the SUD variant with an extended upper deck


The S hort R ange-version of the 747-100 is a version for short-haul flights with extremely high passenger volume. For this purpose, the airframe of the 747-100 was reinforced and the take-off weight was reduced to 235.8 t. The passenger capacity could be increased by shortening the seat spacing to up to 550 seats. Japan Air Lines ordered four copies as a launch customer on October 30, 1972, of which it received the first on September 26, 1973. After the development of the 747-100B, its modified and reinforced cell was used as the basis for the short-haul aircraft. These aircraft, which were delivered from the end of the 1970s, were also referred to as the 747-100B SR to distinguish them from the original SR version and had a higher take-off weight of 258.96 t. Boeing produced a total of 19 747-100SR and 10 747-100B SR, all of which went to the two Japanese companies Japan Air Lines and All Nippon Airways . Japan Air Lines received the last 747-100B SR built on September 9, 1986. Like the penultimate machine, it was delivered from the factory with an extended upper deck (see also Section 747-200SUD). A 747-100SR was affected by the most serious aircraft accident to date with only a single machine involved (see Japan Air Lines flight 123 ).


The 747-100SRF is a freighter based on the 747-100SR and 747-100B SR. The version could not be reordered from the factory. All copies have been retrofitted later.


Second and improved version of the 747-100 with reinforced fuselage, landing gear and wings. It is based on the cell of the -100SR. The upper deck always had ten windows per side, as is known from the -200. Iran Air became the first customer of the version with the order of a 747-100B on June 1, 1978 and received the first copy on August 2, 1979. Only nine examples were built, eight of which went to Iran Air and Saudi Arabian Airlines , the last of which was on April 2, 1982.


Air Pullmantur Boeing 747-200B

A model series based on the 747-100 with a higher maximum take-off weight , increased fuel capacity and greater range, which was initially only available with Pratt & Whitney JT9D -7 engines when production began in 1970 . From 1972 the aircraft could also be ordered with General Electric CF6 -50 engines and from 1975 with Rolls-Royce RB211-524B. Boeing offered four civil versions of the 747-200 from the factory (B, C, F and M). Including all sub-types, a total of 389 units were built. The series can usually be distinguished from the 747-100 by a longer row of windows in the upper deck, although it should be noted that the vast majority of the 747-200B delivered up to the beginning of 1972 only had three upper-deck windows on each side, while the later 747 versions -100B and -100SR had ten windows per side.

The first two Lufthansa 747-200B had only three upper deck windows on each side.


The 747-200B is a purely passenger aircraft and the base model of the 747-200 series. It is based on the 747-100, but has a higher takeoff weight of a maximum of 377,842 kg and an increased range. The prototype made its maiden flight on October 11, 1970. 225 pieces of the 747-200B were built, of which KLM received the first production aircraft on January 16, 1971. Swissair received their first 747-200B on January 29, 1971, Condor their first on April 2, 1971 and Lufthansa their first on May 5, 1971. Without exception, the first 18 747-200Bs delivered had only three upper deck windows per side. On July 30, 1971, Qantas received the first machine ( s / n : 147) with ten windows on each side of the upper deck. However, it was not until the spring of 1972 that production was completely switched to the version with the extended row of windows. The last two 747-200Bs built went to the US Air Force in 1990 and are used by the US government as the VC-25A (see below ).


This station wagon version, also known as the 747-200B Convertible, has cabin windows and the bow cargo door of the 747-200F and could be ordered with or without a side cargo hatch in the left rear fuselage. Like the 747-200M, the sub-type can be used in a pure passenger, combined passenger / cargo or pure cargo configuration. In a mixed configuration, the passengers are separated from the cargo by a removable bulkhead. Launch customer World Airways received the first 747-200C on April 27, 1973. A total of only 13 machines were built, the last of which went to Martinair on September 26, 1988 . A -200C delivered to Iraqi Airways received a specially manufactured, approximately six-ton, extendable loading platform that was carried in the fuselage and allowed the aircraft to be loaded and unloaded independently.

NCA Boeing 747-200F


It is a pure cargo version of the 747-200B, always equipped with a bow that can be folded up for loading and, from 1974, optionally with an additional cargo hatch on the left side of the fuselage. A loading system that can be operated by two people is installed, which allows loading and unloading in a very short time. The maximum payload is 112,491 kg. The first customer was Lufthansa, which received its first freight 747 on March 9, 1972. The 73rd and final copy was delivered to Nippon Cargo Airlines on November 19, 1991 .


This sub-type, also known as the 747-200B Mixed or 747-200B Combi, can be operated as a pure passenger or cargo aircraft and in five freely convertible passenger / cargo configurations. In contrast to the 747-200C, this station wagon version does not have a folding bow, but only a cargo hatch (side cargo door) in the left rear fuselage. It is therefore sometimes referred to as the 747-200SCD, although this is not an official type designation and side cargo hatches were also installed on the -200C and -200F. Air Canada took delivery of the first 747-200B Combi on March 7, 1975. 78 Boeing 747-200Ms had been built up to the last delivery to Iberia on April 5, 1988 .

A converted KLM Boeing 747-200B with an extended upper deck (SUD)


After the appearance of the Boeing 747-300 twelve 747-200B were subsequently (and two 747-100B SR factory for Japan Airlines before delivery) with a delay of about 7 m upper deck ( S tretched U pper D equipped eck), so there until 69 seats could be accommodated. In addition, the emergency exits were enlarged and the stairs to the upper deck changed. This increases the total weight by 2%. The Dutch KLM converted their ten 747-200B accordingly from 1984 to 1986 in Amsterdam-Schiphol. In addition, the French UTA equipped two machines in their company's own shipyard with the extended upper deck.

After it had been reported in the media that the abbreviation “SUD” was also used in English for “Sudden Unexplained Death” (later SUDC, Sudden Inexplicable Death ), as well as for “Subjective Units of Distress” (later SUDS, subjective stress units ), it was no longer used by Boeing. SUD is therefore not an official type designation, i.e. a Boeing 747-200B with an extended upper deck is still officially a 747-200B, not a 747-200SUD. Until the first quarter of 2004, aircraft with the SUD modification were mainly used by KLM.

747 Trijet (project)

In the course of the development of the 747-SP, Boeing also considered a three-jet design of the shortened 747. Two engines should be housed under the wings and the third engine similar to the Lockheed L-1011 in the rear of the aircraft. The three-jet construction promised to save weight and consumption. Ultimately, however, this approach was never implemented due to the complex redesign. In the meantime, this plan was referred to as the Boeing 747-300 .


Syrian Arab Airlines Boeing 747-SP
A Bahrain Royal Flight Boeing 747-SP ; The simple flaps are clearly visible.
A United Airlines Boeing 747-SP in 1993, the squat shape is easy to see.

The S pecial P erformance version of the 747 was originally designed as shortened version of the 747 with two and later three engines planned. Its development was triggered by the interest of Pan Am and Iran Air in an ultra-long-haul aircraft for non-stop flights on the routes New York – Tokyo and Tehran – New York. In fact, it was ultimately built as a considerably shortened and lighter four-engine ultra-long-haul version of the 747-100 (official name for Boeing 747-100SP ). Compared to the 747-100 and -200, the fuselage was shortened by 14.35 m, which necessitated a new vertical stabilizer with an enlarged area to compensate for the reduced stability. Because of the considerably shorter fuselage, it became common practice among aviation enthusiasts to formulate the designation SP also as a short plane (Eng .: "short plane"). Since the 747-SP is significantly lighter than the 747-100 or 747-200 and therefore does not need as much lift in slow flight, it also got lighter one-piece landing flaps. As a first customer, Pan Am ordered five 747-SP machines on September 10, 1973 .

The first flight took place on July 4, 1975, the type approval by the FAA on February 4, 1976, whereupon Pan Am received their first 747-SP on March 5, 1976. The 747-SP can carry a maximum of 440 passengers over a distance of up to 15,780 km. A total of 44 copies were produced from 1975 to 1982, the last of which was delivered to the Chinese CAAC (today: Air China) on December 29, 1982 . The type was already considered discontinued when another 747-SP was ordered by the government of the United Arab Emirates on June 1, 1986 . This was the 45th and last 747-SP produced; it was delivered on December 5, 1989 after a few delays (first flight was on March 31, 1987).

Thanks to the wings and engines that have been taken over from the 747-200B in the same size and power, the 747-SP can fly much higher than the other versions. Due to the low air resistance at this altitude, the cruising speed is Mach 0.90. This makes it the fastest commercial subsonic passenger aircraft after the retired Convair Coronado and the fastest currently in service.

A South African Airways 747-SP flew non-stop with 50 passengers from Paine Field , Washington state , to Cape Town , South Africa , from March 23 to 24, 1976 . This corresponded to a distance of 16,560 km, with which this 747-SP set the world record for the longest non-stop flight of a civil airliner. It was not until 1989 that an unloaded 747-400 (see below) of the Australian Qantas broke this record. From 1976 to 1979, Iran Air flew non-stop with the 747-SP on the Tehran - New York route , one of the longest non-stop connections in regular traffic at the time.

Originally, as the name "747 SB planned", " S hort B ody" to match the m to 14.35 shortened fuselage. However, as a result of this significant change in proportions, the aircraft lost its elegant lines and looked like a too short fuselage on too large wings. That attracted a prankster in Boeing's development department to remark that “SB” stands for Sutter's Balloon (Eng .: “Sutters Ballon”), alluding to development manager Joe Sutter. This term spread like wildfire through the company and prompted the management in an almost one-day special meeting of all key managers, except of course Joe Sutter, the name of "SB" slightly to SP for S pecial P erformance (dt .: "Special Performance") (Danny Palmer to Sutter: “We can't call an airplane 'Sutter's balloon', it doesn't sound right!” / “We can't call an airplane 'Sutter's balloon', that doesn't sound right!”).

The production of the SP variant was discontinued in favor of the newly announced 747-400 , which despite its full dimensions has a range comparable to the SP. However, the take-off run of the 747-SP with 2332 m is shorter than that of the 747-400 with 2804 to 3195 m, and the landing run of the 747-SP of 1661 m is shorter than that of the 747-400 with 1920 m. The SP variant can take off and land on significantly shorter slopes than its successor.

As of September 2014, 15 747-SPs of the 45 units produced are still in active service; the largest operators are Saudi Arabian Royal Flight with three units and the casino operator Las Vegas Sands and the engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney each with two 747-SPs. As the last publicly accessible passenger airline, Iran Air offered the last flight with a 747-SP on November 23, 2014. One of the 747-SPs, which Pan Am christened Clipper Lindbergh , has been converted into a stratospheric observatory for infrared astronomy ( SOFIA ) (see below ). Several SP are used as government machines and one (N747A) as a company machine for Fry's Electronics , later also for the National Hockey League .

In April 2016, the Emir of Qatar's luxuriously equipped 747-SP was put up for sale.


PIA Boeing 747-300
Corsair Boeing 747-300

The dimensions of the 747-300 correspond to the 747-200, however, it has the extended upper deck as standard, which some 747-100 and -200 were also given later. It is equipped with third generation engines (either General Electric CF6 -80C2B1, Pratt & Whitney JT9D -7R4 or Rolls-Royce RB211-524D), which reduces fuel consumption by up to 25%. The extended upper deck (SUD) improved the aerodynamics, so that the 747-300 reaches a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 (approx. 907 km / h). The maximum range is around 12,400 km.

On June 11, 1980, Swissair was the first customer to order four of this series. The prototype had its maiden flight on October 5, 1982. Delivery of the aircraft began in March 1983. Despite the significantly improved performance compared to the 747-200, only 81 copies of the 747-300 were produced and delivered between 1982 and 1990, including all sub-types. The main reason for this was that Boeing announced the 747-400 just two years after the delivery of the first series aircraft , which again had significantly increased performance data.

As of February 2016, only Max Air in Nigeria 3, Mahan Air from Iran 2 and two other companies as well as the Saudi government each operate one.


The basic version of the 747-300 is a pure passenger aircraft and, compared to the 747-200, has much more economical engines as standard as well as an upper deck stretched by around 7 m for a maximum of 69 passengers including a new straight staircase to the main deck (the 747-100 and -200 still had a spiral staircase). The first two orders came from Swissair on June 11, 1980, but the first 747-300 was delivered to the French UTA on March 1, 1983 . 56 pure passenger aircraft of the type 747-300 were produced, the last of which was delivered to Japan Asia Airways on October 18, 1988 .


This variant, also known as the 747-300 Combi, can either be operated as a pure passenger or cargo aircraft and can be flexibly converted between these two configurations. The first customer was Swissair, which on June 11, 1980 ordered two 747-300M as well as two basic 747-300s. The first aircraft was handed over to Swissair on March 5, 1983, and from March 23, 1983 it was the first 747-300 to be used in scheduled service. By the end of production, Boeing had built a total of 21 copies of this version. The last one went to the Belgian Sabena on September 25, 1990 .


As of the 747-100 a special SR variant was (also from 747-300 S hort R ange, short range) produced for the Japanese domestic market. The take-off mass was reduced to 272,160 kg in order not to overload the airframe and the landing gear. The range has been reduced to 3800 km. The 747-300SR can carry a maximum of 624 passengers, including up to 86 on the upper deck. Only four machines of this variant were built, which were delivered to Japan Air Lines between December 1987 and February 1988 . Japan Airlines retired the last aircraft in 2009.


Lufthansa Boeing 747-400
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400

A total of 694 pieces were produced from the 747-400 series with its various sub-variants. This makes it the most popular version of the Boeing 747. Before the Airbus A380 began regular operations , the 747-400 was the largest passenger aircraft in the world. It was replaced by the 747-8 , whose maiden flight took place in 2010.

The 400 series was announced by Boeing in October 1985, the rollout took place in January 1988 and the first flight on April 29 of the same year. The type certificate with PW4000 -Triebwerken was issued on 10 January 1989 CF6-80C2 on May 18, 1989, with RB211-524G on 8 June 1989th

It is based on the 747-300, but has been completely redesigned aerodynamically. It has a different wing root and wings with 2 m larger wingspan and winglets . Despite the increased span was through the use of composite materials and new aluminum - alloys the weight of the airfoils be reduced. In addition, the cockpit was redesigned; Thanks to the new glass cockpit , there was no need for the flight engineer , whose tasks were now divided between the two pilots . For this, the individual systems had to be automated or simplified, the analog round instruments were largely replaced by digital screens and a powerful flight management system was installed. Other changes included fuel tanks in the rear, improved engines with electronic engine control ( FADEC ), a redesigned interior with, in contrast to the simple on-board entertainment systems of the 747-300, completely new equipment with significantly greater capacities and possibilities. The 747-400 series is 25% more economical than the original 747-100 and significantly quieter due to the improved engines. It is available in all passenger, cargo ( 747-400F or 747-400SF ) and combined versions (747-400M) .

The last order for a passenger version of the 747-400 was placed by Qantas in December 2000 for six 747-400ERs. Since then, only freighters of the versions -400F and -400ERF have been ordered.

On March 16, 2007, Boeing announced that the production of the passenger variants of the 747-400 would be discontinued with immediate effect and that the last four outstanding orders from unknown customers would no longer be built. Boeing did not mention the name of the airline concerned, but according to previous publications by the manufacturer, it must have been an order from Philippine Airlines from 1996.

In some configurations, the 747-400's range is sufficient to fly non-stop from New York to Hong Kong , which is a third of the way around the world. In 1989, a Qantas Boeing 747-400 flew 17,945 km non-stop from London to Sydney . However, the machine was not loaded and was not flying on a scheduled flight, but on a test flight. This record has now also been surpassed by a Boeing 777 or Airbus A340 (for four-engine aircraft).

A 747-400 consists of six million individual parts, half of which are fasteners, which are manufactured in 33 different countries.

Wing of a Boeing 747-400 with winglet


The first version of the series was the passenger variant 747-400. Northwest Airlines received a 747-400 on January 26, 1989 as the first airline , which entered service on February 9, 1989 and continued to operate from Delta after Northwest merged with Delta Air Lines . The prototype was also delivered to Northwest in December 1989; On September 10, 2015, his last flight from Honolulu to Atlanta took place, after which he was transferred to the Delta Heritage Museum.

China Airlines was the first airline to order a new interior design called “Signature Interior”. This machine, which had a China Airlines / Boeing livery, was put into operation in 2005. British Airways was temporarily (December 2009) the largest operator of the 747-400 with a total of 49 aircraft directly and newly acquired from Boeing.

The 442nd and final 747-400 in the original, all-passenger version was delivered to China Airlines on April 26, 2005.

Boeing 747-400F of Cargolux


The 747-400F (Freighter) is the freight version of the 747-400, which has a modern two-man cockpit and winglets , but - in order not to unnecessarily restrict the cargo space height and to save weight - again has the short upper deck of the 747-200 and thus based on the cell of the 747-200F. The main deck of the aircraft has a 2.44 m × 2.44 m bow tailgate and a 3.10 m × 3.47 m side cargo door; the windows on the main deck were replaced with metal. The cargo area on the lower deck (belly) also has a side cargo flap for unit load devices ( ULD for short ) with a maximum height of 1.63 m. The first flight of this version was on May 4, 1993; it was put into service for the first time on November 17th of the same year at Cargolux . Larger buyers were Atlas Air , Cargolux, China Airlines, Korean Air , Nippon Cargo Airlines , Polar Air Cargo and Singapore Airlines . By May 2009, 126 copies of the -400F version had been delivered.

An ultra- long-haul version of this, the 747-400ERF (see below), was also built, the first customer of which was Air France .


The 747-400M (Mixed), also known as the 747-400 Combi, is a combined passenger and cargo version. She first flew on June 30, 1989 and entered service with KLM on September 12, 1989. The -400M has a large cargo hold door on the left side in the rear of the fuselage. A total of 61 machines of this variant were built, the last one was delivered to KLM on April 10, 2002. At this airline, the 747-400M will be decommissioned between 2016 and 2020. A few other copies are still in use, for example at Asiana Airlines .


The 747-400D (Domestic) is a short-haul version with a dense seating arrangement and slightly shorter wings without winglets. This was developed for flights within Japan and was - until the introduction of the Airbus A380 - the aircraft with the highest seat capacity in the world (568 in typical configuration). The -400D allows a higher number of take-offs and landings due to the greater rigidity and lower load on the wings. The 747-400D can be converted to the wings of the long-range version if necessary. The first flight of this version was on March 18, 1991. The first customer was Japan Airlines , which put the first aircraft into operation on October 22, 1991. Up to the last delivery on December 11, 1995 to All Nippon Airways , only 19 planes of this short-haul variant had been built, eight of which went to JAL and eleven to ANA.


As the 747-400ER (Extended Range), an ultra long-range version with increased take-off weight was launched on November 28, 2000. The -400ER can either fly 805 km further than the normal 747-400 or carry an additional 6800 kg of cargo. In addition to aerodynamic improvements, such as longer winglets, the tube screens in the cockpit were replaced by flat-screen monitors and the mechanical standby instruments were combined in a small mini display.

Only the Australian Qantas ordered and received six copies, further orders from other airlines were not placed. The first delivery took place on October 31, 2002, the last 747-400ER was handed over to Qantas on July 30, 2003.


The 747-400ERF is the cargo-only version of the -400ER, launched on April 30, 2001. The first -400ERF was delivered to Air France on October 17, 2002 via ILFC . A total of 40 747-400ERFs were delivered.

747LCF "Dreamlifter"

Image of the Boeing 747LCF with the tail swung open
Boeing 747LCF shortly after the conversion, still with winglets
Boeing 747LCF Dreamlifter taking off from Japan

The Boeing 747LCF ( L arge C argo F reighter) - based on the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” mostly called “Dreamlifter” - is a freighter conversion based on used copies of the Boeing 747-400. However, due to its higher structure, the vertical stabilizer was replaced by the significantly higher stabilizer of the Boeing 747-SP for better airflow. The winglets present on the original 747-400 were removed after the first test flights, as these, in combination with the modified fuselage, led to strong vibrations. The 747LCF has a fuselage with a significantly larger diameter in the upper area, in order to be able to accommodate parts for the Boeing 787, which are produced worldwide and flown to Everett for final assembly. The rear is swiveled to the side for loading and unloading. The cargo hold is not pressurized. The front part of the cabin corresponds to that of a conventional 747 and closes off with a pressure bulkhead towards the cargo hold. The machine is significantly larger than the comparable Airbus A300 "Beluga" . The Dreamlifter is used exclusively for the transport of aircraft components from Boeing. The range is 7778 km.

The Boeing 747LCF was announced on October 13, 2003; With their help, the components of the Boeing 787 will get from the individual plants, which are located in Japan and Italy to final assembly in Everett faster than by ship. Boeing's development studio in Russia, Rocketdyne and Gamesa Aeronautica from Spain were involved in the development. The conversion of the Boeing 747-400, which was formerly used as a passenger aircraft, was carried out by the Taiwanese company Evergreen Aviation Technologies (EGAT). The first flight of a Dreamlifter took place on September 9, 2006, the FAA approval on June 5, 2007. Currently (as of March 2011) four aircraft are in use.

number (consecutive number)
Type First flight First customer Use / first flight as LCF Mark comment
25879 (904) 747-4J6 LCF February 1, 1992 Air China September 9, 2006 N747BC
24310 (778) 747-409 LCF March 6, 1990 China Airlines February 16, 2007 N780BA
24309 (766) 747-409 LCF January 6, 1990 China Airlines 2007 N249BA The renovation took place in 2007.
27042 (932) 747-4H6 LCF August 11, 1992 Malaysia Airlines January 15, 2010 N718BA

The completed freighters were initially operated by Evergreen International Airlines , a US company that is not part of the Evergreen Group . The four Atlas Air (GTI) aircraft have been operated for Boeing since mid-2010 .

747-500X and 747-600X (project)

Boeing 747-500X and 747-600X

In 1996/97 Boeing planned two new 747 versions of different lengths to compete with the A3XX plans being developed by Airbus. The 747-500X / 600X were to have a wingspan of 77 meters and engines of the Engine Alliance GP 7176 or Rolls-Royce Trent 976 types . The hull length of the 747-500X should be 76 meters and that of the 747-600X 85 meters. With three-class seating, they could have carried 462 or 548 passengers. In a one-class seating there would have been 700 or 850 passengers. They should also adopt some more modern systems from the Boeing 777, e.g. B. the fly-by-wire control.

747-400X, 747X and 747X Stretch (project)

Between 1999 and the beginning of 2001, Boeing planned two new 747 versions of different lengths in response to the upcoming offer phase before the start of the Airbus A3XX program. There was also a modernized version of the 747-400 called the 747-400X at the time. This was the only version built in small numbers as the 747-400ER.

The 747X and 747X Stretch were to have a wingspan of 69.77 meters and engines from the Engine Alliance GP 7100 and Rolls-Royce Trent 600, respectively. The hull length of the 747-X should be 73.47 meters and that of the 747-X Stretch 80.55 meters. In three-class seating they could have carried 442 or 522 passengers. In one-class seating, the 747-X Stretch would have offered 660 passengers space. In addition, the two 747X versions should get a modified fuselage structure with fewer individual parts, which would be cheaper. So much changed, the 747X and 747X Stretch should have received their own approval from the aviation authorities and not a modified version.

747-8 - development

Comparison of the Boeing 747-8 with other large aircraft:
Airbus A380 , Antonow An-225 , Boeing 747-8I , Hughes H-4 , Scaled Composites Stratolaunch

A 747-8F intended for Cargolux ; The stretched fuselage and the newly designed wings are clearly visible.
A 747-8I the Lufthansa takes off from Los Angeles International Airport .

In the 1990s, under the designations 747-500 / -600 (see above) and 747-700, several further developments of the 747 were announced, but these did not meet with enough customer interest and were therefore not implemented. Since Boeing came under pressure from the A380 of its competitor Airbus in the area of ​​large aircraft (more than 400 seats), the aircraft manufacturer reverted to the concept of a further developed 747-400 in 2004. This time this machine was initially advertised as the 747 Advanced . On November 14, 2005, the project was officially launched under the name 747-8 . As with the 787 model , Boeing has dispensed with the last two digits of the version designation on the new 747 variant, so that the relationship to the 787 could be established, from which technical innovations have been adopted. H. instead of the 747-800, the model is officially called the 747-8.

The 747-8 is larger than the 747-400 and is intended to close the capacity gap between the Boeing 777-300 or the Airbus A340-600 and the Airbus A380-800. The increase in capacity is achieved by stretching the fuselage, making the Boeing 747-8 the longest passenger aircraft in the world at 76.30 meters, replacing the Airbus A340-600 (75.36 meters). Both a freighter variant under the designation 747-8 Freighter (short: 747-8F ) and a passenger variant with the name 747-8 Intercontinental (short: 747-8I ) are built. Both variants have aerodynamically revised wings with new ends ( raked wingtips ), improved landing flaps and gapless Kruger flaps . New, lighter and more corrosion-resistant aluminum alloys are used in the fuselage and in the wings.

In addition, a cockpit was developed, the design of which is based on the cockpit of the 747-400, so that pilots of this type can be retrained for the new version in just two days. The cockpit of the 747-8 will only receive a new flight management system from the Boeing 777 as well as new LCD screens and an ISFD as in the later versions of the 747-400, but no head-up displays as in the 787, for example, in order to avoid additional training costs to avoid.

No separate type rating is required for retraining from the 747 version -400 to the new -8I or -8F.

The most important technological innovation, however, are the General Electric GEnx engines taken over from the 787. These are intended to enable a double-digit percentage lower consumption compared to the 400 version. In addition, noise emissions should also be reduced by a further 30%. Since Boeing has an exclusive contract with General Electric, the 747-8 will not be available with engines from other manufacturers. Boeing is assuming a need for 960 machines in the segment with more than 400 seats by 2025.

747-8 - Orders

With the official start of the program on November 14, 2005, the first orders for the 747-8 were announced. Despite previous announcements that they wanted to acquire at least one passenger airline as a first-time customer, initially only Cargolux ordered ten (plus ten options) and Nippon Cargo Airlines eight (plus six options) 747-8 Freighters. The orders would have a total value of approximately five billion US dollars at list prices. It was not until June 9, 2006 that Boeing listed the first order for a passenger version of the 747-8 for a VIP customer. On December 6, 2006 Lufthansa announced that it had ordered twenty 747-8 Intercontinental with the option of 20 more aircraft. Currently (as of the end of July 2020) there are a total of 153 orders, of which 47 are for four to thirteen customers for the passenger version, 106 are for nine to thirteen customers for the freight version (see also the separate list of 747-8 orders a little further on below). The largest customer is UPS Airlines with 28 machines ordered.

During the development, the wings had to be partially redesigned, which increased the weight. Through changes to the design, Boeing was able to increase the maximum take-off mass of the 747-8 by around 6 tons to 449 tons in December 2011.

747-8 - production

Due to the low demand, Boeing has reduced the production rate of the 747-8 several times since 2013. Up to April 2013, two aircraft per month were delivered, from April to October the rate was reduced to 1.75 aircraft per month, since mid-October 2013 only one and a half aircraft are to leave the factory halls. After a reduction in the production rate of more than 1.3 from August 2015 to one aircraft per month from March 2016 was announced in June 2015, Boeing further reduced the forecast in January 2016 to just one machine in two months from September 2016.


A British Airways World Cargo Boeing 747-8F on approach for landing at Chicago O'Hare International Airport

The 747-8 Freighter is stretched from the 747-400F by 5.60 m to 76.30 m and should have a payload capacity of 134 t. To achieve the total extension, the 747-8F is extended in front of and behind the wing section by a fraction. Like the 747-400F, the 747-8F does not have an elongated upper deck. The loading options have also been retained. The main deck of the aircraft also has a 2.44 m × 2.44 m bow tailgate and a 3.10 m × 3.47 m side cargo door. As with the 747-400F, the cargo area on the lower deck (belly) has a side cargo flap for unit load devices ( ULD for short ) with a maximum height of 1.63 m. At the end of October 2006 the configuration of the 747-8F was determined. The 2008 list price ranged from $ 301.5 million to $ 304.5 million.

The rollout of the first machine took place on November 18, 2009, the maiden flight took place on February 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm local time from Paine Field in Everett with chief test pilot Mark Feuerstein and Tom Imrich on board. The first deliveries were originally planned for 2009. After several previous delays, Boeing last postponed first delivery to mid-2011 in October 2010.

During the test flights for the approval of the new model, a 747-8F reached almost the speed of sound with Mach 0.984, the maximum speed for the machine was set at Mach 0.97.

The machine was approved by the FAA and EASA on August 19, 2011. Currently (as of the end of July 2020) there are a total of 106 orders from nine to thirteen freight airlines (see also the separate list of 747-8 orders a little further below). The largest customer is UPS Airlines with 28 orders.

The first 747-8F was originally due to be handed over on September 19, 2011. However, it still had to be renegotiated, as it was officially called. The 747-8F is probably overweight and the engines therefore consume more fuel than agreed with Cargolux. Atlas Air canceled three of the twelve 747-8Fs and only wants to buy the remaining nine machines if they are better than the ones currently in production. After Cargolux and Boeing had reached an agreement, the first 747-8F was handed over to Cargolux on October 12, 2011.


Boeing 747-8I Intercontinental in maiden flight livery at the Paris Air Show
Space for sleeping cabins or kitchens

The passenger variant , 747-8 Intercontinental , 747-8I for short or just 747-8 , was originally intended to be stretched by just 3.60 m to 74.30 m compared to the 747-400, and thus space for an additional 34 passengers compared to the predecessor Offer. In a three-class configuration, this resulted in a capacity of 450 passengers with a maximum range of 14,816 km. Since the end of June 2006, there has been increasing speculation that Boeing will offer the 747-8I in the same length as the 747-8F, which was ultimately confirmed with the first larger order for the 747-8I on December 6, 2006. In the 76.30 m long fuselage with typical three-class equipment, 467 passengers fit and with two-class equipment it should be almost 600. In order to achieve the full stretch, the 747-8I is stretched in two places like the freighter, but only at the height of the upper deck in front of the wings, so that this is also lengthened. It is 4.1 meters longer than the previous version. The 747-8I also gets a more modern interior and larger windows for the passengers. Above the rear main deck, Boeing is offering the installation of sleeping accommodations or work rooms for passengers who, however, have no windows in previously unused space. Alternatively, one of the galleys can be accommodated there, which would increase the number of seats in the three-class version to 479. According to Boeing, the 747-8I has almost the same range as originally planned with the smaller fuselage, despite the larger fuselage of 5.6 m and the associated higher weight of 14,815 km . According to the manufacturer, this is due to the fact that the revised wings turned out to be more efficient than originally forecast. At the request of potential customers, Boeing therefore decided to stretch the fuselage more in order to further increase the passenger capacity (instead of the range). The 2008 list price was between $ 293 million and $ 308 million.

The first orders for the 747-8I consisted exclusively of individual aircraft that were sold to private buyers as VIP machines. It was not until December 6, 2006 (after Boeing had decided to extend the fuselage) that Lufthansa announced that it had concluded a purchase agreement for 20 Boeing 747-8I plus 20 options. In the Lufthansa configuration, the 747-8I should offer space for 386 passengers. The deliveries were to take place after delays from 2011 instead of 2010, as originally planned, and the aircraft should be in scheduled service from 2012. A second firm order for the passenger variant by an airline was announced on December 4, 2009, when Korean Air Lines announced that it had ordered five 747-8Is for delivery between 2013 and 2015. The list price of the five machines is according to Boeing at 1.5 billion US dollars. With U. a. 19 aircraft ordered by Lufthansa and the eight VIP aircraft ordered via Boeing Business Jets , a total of 47 747-8Is were ordered and delivered by December 2017 (see table below).

The Boeing 747-8I is the basis for the next Air Force One , for which two units were delivered to the US Air Force's Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization Program in October 2017 . An analysis of the requirements for the successor initially found that the 747 and the Airbus A380 in particular met these requirements; Airbus later withdrew from the competition for the successor.

The 747-8I was unveiled to the public on February 13, 2011 at a rollout ceremony at Boeing's Everett facility. On March 20, 2011, the approximately 4.5-hour first flight from Everett took place with pilots Mark Feuerstein and Paul Stemer on board. The machine, known internally as RC001, benefits from detailed improvements that the tests with the 747-8F have brought about. In October 2012 it was equipped as a government machine of the Emirates Kuwait with the now current license plate 9K-GAA and repainted in the colors of the Emirates.

At the rollout, the machine was surprisingly painted red, orange and white and thus deviated considerably from the standard Boeing factory colors of blue, turquoise and white. Rumor has it that this new design should allude to the first 747 ever presented to the public. The test program of the passenger version required for the approval of the aircraft was completed on October 31, 2011, and on December 14, 2011 the 747-8I received the extended type certificate from the FAA. On February 28, 2012, the first 747-8I, intended for a VIP customer, was delivered. Only the third delivery of a 747-8I was made to an airline: It took place on April 25, 2012 to Lufthansa.

After the last 747-8I deliveries (one to Korean Air in July 2017, two machines to the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization Program of the US Air Force in October 2017 and one to an unnamed customer in December 2017) are currently (status: end of July 2020) no more pending orders for the passenger 747.

Orders and deliveries (status: end of July 2020)
First order country customer 747-8I 747-8F total Delivered notes
November 15, 2005 LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg Cargolux 14th 14th 14th
November 15, 2005 JapanJapan Japan Nippon Cargo Airlines 8th 8th 8th
May 30, 2006 (unknown) (anonymous) 8th 8th 8th ( Boeing Business Jets )
September 11, 2006 United StatesUnited States United States Atlas Air 10 10 10
November 30, 2006 RussiaRussia Russia Volga-Dnepr Airlines 9 9 6th
December 6, 2006 GermanyGermany Germany Lufthansa 19th 19th 19th Machine number 5 (of the 20 initially ordered) will remain with Boeing as a test aircraft for the time being and has therefore been canceled by LH.
December 28, 2006 Korea SouthSouth Korea South Korea Korean Air 10 7th 17th 17th
November 8, 2007 Hong KongHong Kong Hong Kong Cathay Pacific 14th 14th 14th A machine was reordered on December 27, 2013.
September 6, 2012 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China Air China 7th 7th 7th
November 27, 2012 (unknown) (anonymous) 1 4th 5 5
5th July 2013 AzerbaijanAzerbaijan Azerbaijan Silk Way Airlines 5 5 5
October 10, 2014 RussiaRussia Russia AirBridgeCargo 7th 7th 7th
October 27, 2016 United StatesUnited States United States UPS Airlines 28 28 16
August 31, 2017 United StatesUnited States United States United States Air Force 2 2 2 Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization Program ( Air Force One )
total 47 106 153 138

747-X00SF / BCF

A converted Boeing 747-200SF operated by Malaysia Airlines Cargo

Many old passenger Boeing 747s of the variants 100, -200, -300 and -400 were converted into cargo aircraft at the end of their passenger aircraft life. Passenger planes that were subsequently converted into cargo planes have been commonly referred to as Special Freighters (SF) since the early 1980s . Originally the abbreviation SF, introduced in the 1970s, stood for Strengthened Floor (reinforced cabin floor). During the conversion, the passenger seats will be removed, the floor will be reinforced and the aircraft will be equipped with a large cargo hatch in the rear left of the fuselage. In contrast to the 747-x00F already delivered as a freighter, they do not have a bow door. An automatic loading system for containers and pallets will be installed in the cargo hold. The SF machines can be distinguished from the 747-x00F by the existing (but with panels) windows which the -x00F do not have.

A Special Freighter conversion program also started in 2004 for the currently still current 747-400 . The launch customer was Cathay Pacific , whose first aircraft made its maiden flight on October 5, 2005 in Xiamen , People's Republic of China , where the conversions are taking place. Korean Air has also been approved by Boeing to convert former 747-400s for themselves and other airlines into freighters using the appropriate official conversion kits. Machines that have been converted from Boeing or authorized partners, will officially 747-400BCFs ( B Oeing C onverted F reighter - about: converted Boeing freighters), respectively.

In 2005, there were 34 orders and 29 options for such conversions from seven predominantly Asian airlines.

Military variants

Boeing AL-1 Airborne Laser (AL)
Built on the Boeing 747-200B Boeing E-4 of the USAF used as flying command center


The YAL-1 is based on the 747-400F flying laser - weapon system of the United States Air Force (USAF), the approaching missile (especially ICBM ) with its nose on a turret mounted directable chemical laser (Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser - COIL) is supposed to destroy. A total of seven machines were planned for the conversion, a prototype flew for the first time in July 2002. In August 2007, a test with a conventional solid-state laser was carried out, in which it was possible to aim at a target rocket permanently. The program was ended in early 2012 for cost reasons.


The E-4 , derived from the 747-200B, is used by the USAF as an airborne command post for emergencies if the land-based communications infrastructure has already been destroyed by war or natural disasters or if such destruction is threatened. As the National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC), the E-4 is intended to ensure the command and control of the US government and the armed forces in these cases. In this case, a five mile long longitudinal wave antenna is attached to the aircraft, which is pulled behind the aircraft when in use and is used for communication with submerged submarines. Against at atomic explosions occurring electromagnetic pulse , the electronics are well protected and an impending attack with heat-seeking missiles to electronic countermeasures and decoys are used.

The four Boeing E-4s (official serial numbers 747-E4A and 747-E4B) belong to the Air Combat Command (ACC) arsenal and are stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska and form the 1st Airborne Command and Control Squadron of the 55th Wing ; one of them is on constant alert. These machines are also called Kneecaps (after NEACP (National Emergency Airborne Command Post), their original name) and can stay in the air for several days without stopping with the help of aerial refueling . Boeing delivered a total of three E-4A between July 1973 and October 1974, followed by an E-4B on August 1, 1975. The three A versions were later upgraded to the B standard.


One of the Pan-American-World-Airways-machines converted to variant C-19. This machine was destroyed in the Lockerbie attack in December 1988.

The USAF converted 19 units of the 747-100 to the C-19 variant. These aircraft were in normal service from the 1970s to the early 1990s with the US airline Pan American World Airways. In the event of a crisis, they could have been assigned to the Air Force as transporters for soldiers and cargo. The machines are equipped with additional larger cargo hatches, reinforced floors and a loading system, which increases the curb weight by around six tons. The Jumbo, which was destroyed in the Lockerbie attack in 1988, was one such machine.


As of March 1994, after a match for the still small fleet the USAF sought their transport aircraft of the type C-17 Globemaster III . Boeing then submitted two proposals based on their 747-400F, which were given the designation C-33. The US Department of Defense decided against the supplementary program in November 1995 and instead procured additional C-17 transporters.


The two USAF VC-25A based on the 747-200B promote the US President and are then referred to as Air Force One . These machines can also serve as flying command centers in an emergency; They have the most modern communication facilities, which are operated from the upper deck and which give the President full access to all military command levels. Against occurring in atomic explosions electromagnetic pulse that is electronics specially protected and in an impending attack with heat-seeking missiles to electronic countermeasures and decoys are used. The possibility of in- flight refueling increases the range and independence. In addition to 26 crew members, up to 76 passengers can be carried. As Air Force One that had VC-25A on 6 September 1990 its first use.

Other variants

Boeing 747-SCA with the Atlantis

Shuttle Carrier Aircraft

Two 747-100s were converted by NASA into Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA). With them, the space shuttles could be transported back piggyback to the Kennedy Space Center after an alternate landing . The 747 SCA is comparable to the original function of the Soviet or Ukrainian Antonov An-225 , which was developed as a transporter for the space shuttle Buran .

SOFIA on the second test flight

Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy

The Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is a flying telescope based on a Boeing 747-SP that NASA has been developing together with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) since the 1980s .

The conversion from a 747-SP took place at L3Communications in Waco , Texas . From 2007 SOFIA completed test flights. Two German research groups also worked on the instrumentation of this observatory: KOSMA from the I. Physics Institute of the University of Cologne and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics . The Boeing 747-SP was probably chosen as the platform for SOFIA, as it can fly higher than the other 747 versions and thus leaves 99% of the disturbing water vapor below it at a height of 12 to 15 kilometers. The first astronomical test measurement took place in May 2010; since then numerous scientific flights have been carried out. The development phase was officially completed in May 2014.

Super tanker

The Evergreen Supertankers are two Boeing 747s converted and operated by Evergreen International Airlines .

number (consecutive number)
Type First delivery First customer Use
as a tanker
Mark comment
19898 (94) 747-132SF 06/11/1970 Delta Air Lines July 2009 N479EV Used by PanAm for the first time in May 1984 as a converted cargo aircraft
20653 (237) 747-273C 02/05/1974 World Airways May 2006 N470EV
Supertanker N470EV on the tarmac

As fire fighting aircraft, the supertankers have an extinguishing agent capacity of 77,600 liters (20,500 US gallons ). The previously largest fire-fighting aircraft, two appropriately retrofitted DC10-10 , can hold around 45,000 liters (12,000 US gallons) of extinguishing agent.

A particular strength of the Supertanker is that it can also interrupt the discharge of water thanks to its compressed air-powered tank system and is therefore able to fight multiple sources of fire in a single operation. The limited maneuverability compared to smaller fire-fighting aircraft is a disadvantage. Furthermore, there were considerations to use the supertanker to combat oil spills at sea by dropping binders. It was also considered to be used in disaster control to decontaminate large areas (e.g. in the event of radioactive contamination, chemical poisoning and bacteriological contamination).

Missions (selection):

  • The supertanker with the registration N479EV was used for the first time in forest fires in Spain in July 2009. At the time, the aircraft was traveling in Spain, France and Germany for advertising purposes.
  • In December 2010, the same supertanker was used to fight large-scale forest fires in Israel .

Evergreen filed for bankruptcy in December 2013 and ceased operations. The supertanker with the registration number N479EV was scrapped.

In November 2016, the N744ST aircraft, a 747-400 from Global SuperTanker Services, LLC , founded in 2015, was sent to Israel and from January 2017 the aircraft was used in Chile for 20 days.

In August 2019, this super tanker was used to fight the forest fires in Bolivia.


Many of the world's major scheduled airlines have the Boeing 747. The largest fleets are currently (as of November 2015) operated by British Airways , Korean Air and Atlas Air . In Germany Lufthansa still has 13 copies of the 747-400; In addition, it was the first customer for the 747-200F and the 747-8I (all 19 ordered copies have been delivered); the 747-100 and 747-200 were also part of the fleet. With the liberalization of the US air transport market, the use of the "Jumbo" fell in the USA. On the one hand, this is due to the difficult financial situation of many companies, which led to the demise of many formerly large 747 operators (including Pan Am and TWA ). The liberalization of the US air transport market also led to many US companies (including American Airlines and Continental Airlines ) taking the 747 out of their fleets and replacing them with smaller types in order to be able to offer more frequent domestic connections. At times only Delta Air Lines operated in North America , after the takeover of Northwest Airlines , and United Airlines copies of the passenger 747; Atlas Air and UPS Airlines have larger 747 freighter fleets . The first Russian airline to acquire a (used) 747-200 was the cargo airline AirBridge Cargo , a subsidiary of Volga-Dnepr Airlines .

Sales figures

The 747 has been a long-term successful product; about 90 airlines (plus several unnamed customers) purchased this model. By the end of July 2020, 1571 Boeing 747s had been ordered and 1556 of them were delivered:

747-100 747-200 747-200F 747-SP 747-E4 747-300 747-400 747-400F 747-8F 747-8I total
Orders: 205 316 73 45 4th 81 528 166 106 47 1571
Deliveries: 205 316 73 45 4th 81 528 166 91 47 1556
Customers: 23 51 21st 14th 1 19th 36-37 23 9-13 4-13 93-107

At the end of July 2016, Boeing officially indicated an end to 747 production for the first time.


In 2015 the following airlines operated at least ten Boeing 747s:

British Airways 42
Korean Air 37
Atlas Air 35
Lufthansa 32
Saudi Arabian Airlines 30th
China Airlines 29
Cathay Pacific 26th
Cargolux 26th
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 24
United Airlines 23
Air Atlanta Icelandic 15th
AirBridgeCargo 15th
Kalitta Air 15th
Asiana Airlines 14th
Polar Air Cargo 13
Nippon Cargo Airlines 13
UPS Airlines 13
Qantas Airways 11
Air China 11
EVA Air 11
Delta Air Lines 10
Thai Airways International 10
Virgin Atlantic Airways 10

After United Airlines and Delta Air Lines retired the Boeing 747 in November 2017 and January 2018, respectively, Atlas Air is the last US operator of the jumbo to still use it on passenger flights. The 747 is also no longer used as a passenger aircraft by Japanese airlines. The two largest former operators, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines , have all phased out their planes and are now using the Boeing 777 for a capacity of 500 passengers .

British Airways initially planned to retire the Boeing 747-400 by 2024 and to replace it with Boeing 787, Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft. After Qantas, KLM and Virgin Atlantic had shut down their Boeing 747-400s by April 2020 as a result of the decline in passengers due to the COVID-19 pandemic , British Airways also announced that they would be phased out for the same year.

As of July 2018, 594 Boeing 747 aircraft are registered and are either in active service or temporarily parked:

747-100 747-200 747-SP 747-E4 747-300 747-400 747-8 All series
Operated: 4th 15th 9 4th 3 378 126 539
Switched off: 1 5 1 41 7th 55
Total: 5 20th 10 4th 3 419 133 594

The Iranian Air Force is the sole operator of all remaining 747-100s. The five machines, which were all built between 1969 and 1971, are also the oldest of the Type 747 that are still in use.

The 747-100, -200 and -SP series are no longer in operation as passenger planes.

One of the three remaining active 747-300s is a Mahan Air passenger aircraft . The machine built in 1986 with the aircraft registration EP-MND, which was previously in service with UTA and Air France , is the oldest active passenger version of the 747 and the only one of the type 747-300 that is still in use. In addition, a 747 with VIP equipment is still in operation, which was delivered brand new to the Saudi government in 1983. The other still active 747-300 is a former passenger jet converted into a cargo plane, which was newly delivered to Sabena in 1990 and is now in operation with the Belarusian Transaviaexport Cargo Airline . This machine is the 81st Boeing 747-300 delivered and thus the last model of this series to be built.

Government machines

Boeing 747-47C of the Japanese government in Sapporo
The Air Force One , a VC-25A over Mount Rushmore

In addition to the USA with its VC-25A ( Air Force One ), several other countries also use the Boeing 747 as a government aircraft. For example, the government of Japan has two 747-400s for the promotion of the Prime Minister , the Emperor ( Tennō ) with the Empress and other high-ranking officials of the country. The machines have a similar marking scheme as the US Air Force One, the word Japan written out in Kanji and English on the fuselage, a red stripe from front to back along the windows and the Hinomaru as the national emblem ( cockade ) of the Japanese Air Force (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) on the fin and the two wings. The machines bear the military license plates 20-1101 and 20-1102 and have state-of-the-art communication technology, the type and scope of which is unknown; further details were never published either. According to the model version, these two aircraft are the world's most modern 747 government aircraft (see also Japanese Air Force One ). The governments of Bahrain , Brunei , Oman , Qatar , Saudi Arabia , South Korea and India also use the plane. The Argentine government is renting a Boeing 747-200 from Aerolíneas Argentinas for the President's trips abroad, as the Boeing 757 from the Argentine Air Force does not have sufficient range. To do this, the callsign is changed to T-01 and the machine is given the national coat of arms.

Private planes

The Boeing 747 is not only used in civil aviation, but also as a private aircraft by some wealthy private individuals. These specially equipped Boeing 747s include: B. the 747-430 of the Sultan of Brunei or the 747-400 of Prince al-Walid ibn Talal .

Boeing 747 in museums

Boeing 747-200 of Lufthansa in the Technikmuseum Speyer

The Boeing 747 prototype is in the Museum of Flight in Seattle . An Air France Boeing 747-100 can be viewed in the Musée de l'air et de l'espace at Le Bourget Airport in Paris . The former Boeing 747-200 " Schleswig-Holstein " of Lufthansa (registration D-ABYM) is in the Technik-Museum Speyer . The version 200 Louis Blériot of KLM , which has been updated to the Boeing 747-300 stand , will be exhibited in the Aviodrome at Lelystad Airport . A Boeing 747-238B ("City of Bunbury") from Qantas Airways can be found in the Qantas Founders Outback Museum in Longreach . One 747-SP and one 747-200 are in the South African Airways museum near Johannesburg . There is also a 747-200 from the former Transjet airline that has been converted into a jumbo hostel at Stockholm Airport . The cockpit of the 747-338 ex VH-EBW is in the Flieger-Flab-Museum in Dübendorf and will be accessible as a public simulator from May 2017. In February 2019, a discarded Boeing 747 was towed from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol across canals and a specially cordoned-off motorway to the nearby Corendon Village Hotel in Badhoevedorp to be set up there. A Boeing 747-100 can be viewed at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville , Oregon .


Between September 1970 and September 2011, 54 machines were destroyed in accidents and terrorist attacks or so damaged that they had to be written off as a total loss. This comparatively high number is explained by the long service life of the 747 and the high production figures. The loss rates of 2.28 total write-offs per million flights on the 747-100 to -300 and 0.75 total write-offs per million flights on the 747-400 are slightly higher than those of other contemporary airliners. Overall, every 32nd machine of all 747 machines was written off prematurely. A total of 3765 people were killed in the accidents, 583 of them in the plane disaster in Tenerife in March 1977, in which two 747 were involved, and 520 people on Japan Air Lines flight 123 in August 1985.

Technical specifications

Overview of the technical data of the most important 747 variants.

Passenger and station wagon variants

Parameter 747-100 747-200B 747-SP 747-300 747-400 (ER) 747-8I
Length: 70.60 m 56.31 m 70.60 m 76.30 m
Cabin length: 57.00 m 42.30 m 57.00 m 62.70 m
Span: 59.60 m 64.44 m 68.40 m
Wing swept: 37 ° > 37 °
Wing area: 511 m² 541.2 m² 554 m²
Tail span: 22.17 m
Height: 19.30 m 19.94 m 19.30 m 19.40 m
Torso height: 7.85 m
Cabin width (inside): 6.1 m
Cabin height: 2.54 m
maximum tank capacity: 183,380 liters 198,390 liters 190,630 liters 198,390 liters 216,850 liters
ER with two additional tanks: 241,150 liters
242,470 liters
Range: 9,800 km 12,700 km 15,400 km 12,400 km 13,450 km
14,205 km (ER)
14,815 km
(at approx. 10,700 m altitude):
Do 0.84
895 km / h
Do 0.9
1,000 km / h
Do 0.85,910
km / h
Do 0.85,913
km / h
Do 0.855
920 km / h
Start speed: approx. 300 km / h, depending on takeoff weight, weather and runway height
maximum takeoff mass: 333,400 kg 377,842 kg 317,515 kg 377,842 kg 396,893 kg
412,775 kg (ER)
447,696 kg
maximum number of seats: 550 400 660 605
average number of seats: 366 316 412 416
568 (-400D)
Engines (4 × each): P&W JT9D-7A with 206.8 kN each
GE CF6-45A2 with 206.8 kN each
P&W JT9D-7R4G2 with 243.5 kN each
RR RB211-524D4 with 236.2 kN each
GE CF6-50E2 with 233.5 kN each
P&W JT9D-7AW with 218.4 kN each
RR RB211-524B with 222.8 kN each
RR RB211-524C with 229.5 kN each
GE CF6-45A2 with 206.8 kN each
GE CF6-50E2-F with 206.8 kN each
P&W JT9D-7R4G2 with 243.5 kN each
RR RB211-524D4 with 236.3 kN each
GE CF6-50E2 with 233.5 kN each
GE CF6-80C2B1 with 252.2 kN each
PW4062 with 281.6 kN each
RR RB211-524H2-T with 264.7 kN each 1
GE CF6-80C2B5F with 276.2 kN each
GEnx -2B67 with 296 kN each
Crew (cockpit): 3 2
First flight: February 9, 1969 October 11, 1970 4th July 1975 5th October 1982 April 29, 1988
July 31, 2002 (ER)
March 20, 2011
Total number delivered: 205 2 316 3 45 81 4 528 5 47
1 The RB211-524H2-T is not available for the ER versions of the 747-400 and -400F
2 This number includes the following series: 747-100, -100B and -100SR
3 This number includes the following series: 747-200B, -200C / M (C and M versions are both combi versions)
4th This number includes the following series: 747-300, -300M and -300SR
5This number includes the following series: 747-400, -400M, -400D, -400ER; As of the end of June 2020
Versions in comparison

Freighter variants

Parameter 747-200F 747-400 (ER) F. 747-8F
Length: 70.60 m 76.30 m
Span: 59.60 m 64.40 m 68.50 m
Wing area: 511 m² 541.2 m² 554 m²
Height: 19.30 m 19.40 m
Cabin width (inside): 6.1 m
Range: 9,075 km 8,230 km
9,200 km (ERF)
8,130 km
(at approx. 10,700 m altitude):
Do 0.84
895 km / h
Do 0.845
901 km / h
maximum takeoff mass: 351,540 kg 396,900 kg
412,775 kg (ERF)
447,700 kg
maximum cargo capacity: 101 t 112.6 t
123.6 t (ERF)
134 t
Engines (4 × each): P&W JT9D-7R4G2 with 243.5 kN each
RR RB211-524D4 with 236.2 kN each
GE CF6-50E2 with 233.5 kN each
PW4062 with 281.6 kN each
RR RB211-524H2-T with 264.7 kN each 6
GE CF6-80C2B5F with 276.2 kN each
GEnx -2B67 with 296 kN each
Crew (cockpit): 3 2
First flight: November 30, 1971 May 4th 1993 February 8, 2010
Total number delivered: 73 166 7 91
6th The RB211-524H2-T is not available for the ER versions of the 747-400 and -400F.
7thThis number includes the following series: 747-400F and -400ERF; As of the end of June 2020


It is possible to install a fifth engine between engine 2 and the fuselage, but only to transport it and without function. This has already been used several times in the past.

A Boeing 747-200 from El Al carried 1135 passengers on a flight 1135 during Operation Salomon , and after two births during the flight even 1137 passengers (according to other sources 1086/1088 passengers); the machine is designed for 480 passengers.

See also


  • Norbert Andrup: Boeing 747. From prototype to 747-8 . 1st edition. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-613-03219-4 .
  • Robbie Shaw: Boeing 747 . Heel, Königswinter 1995, ISBN 3-89365-453-4 .
  • Joe Sutter, Jay Spenser: 747 . Creating the world's first jumbo jet and other adventures from a life in aviation. Smithsonian, New York 2006, ISBN 0-06-088241-7 (English).
  • Volker K. Thomalla : Airplanes made history. Boeing 747 . Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 1993, ISBN 3-613-01514-5 .
  • Craig West: Queen of the Skies: Boeing 747 Celebrating 50 Years. In: Airliner World , April 2019, pp. 36–48

Web links

Commons : Boeing 747  album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Jumbo-Jet  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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This article was added to the list of excellent articles on March 11, 2007 in this version .