Boeing 747-8i first flight. This aircraft, registered as N6067E, now it belongs to the state of Kuwait as a state aircraft. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

MIAMI – There are a plethora of fascinating and intriguing facts about commercial aviation and its flying machines that may still surprise us.

Here are six interesting AV geek facts about aviation and commercial aircraft that are great conversation starters for any given Sunday.

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 at Golden Hour. Photo: Johann Heske/Airways

Six Million Parts Make up the Boeing 747


The legendary Boeing 747, often known as the Queen of the Skies or the Jumbo Jet, is still the most well-known wide-body commercial airliner and cargo transportation aircraft. The type is famous for being the first large-body aircraft ever built.

A Boeing 747 consists of six million parts, all of which are designed to be controlled by a few pilots sitting up front with switches and buttons at their fingers.

In comparison, the newer Boeing 787 Dreamliner has just around 2.3 million components. They range in size from small fasteners to massive fuselage pieces and contain everything from “fasten seatbelt” signs to jet engines. Some parts are manufactured by Boeing, while others are procured from suppliers all over the world.

Of course, the number of components can vary, most probably lowering for newer aircraft types. For example, there are approximately 600,000 “total parts” on a Boeing 737NG, according to the company.

Inflight on the first Azul E195-E2 passenger flight. Image: Azul

Fear of Flying Affects More than 80% of the Population


The fear of heights is known as acrophobia. Unlike specialized phobias such as aerophobia (fear of flying) and other particular phobias, acrophobia can lead a person to be afraid of a number of things that are associated with being high above the earth.

Needless to say that while not 80% of those who fear flying have acrophobia, it is fair to think that some people simply cannot fathom a 1,265,000-pounds machine such as the Airbus A380 taking to the skies, let alone being inside the aircraft.

The mighty GE9X, mounted on Boeing 777-9x. Photo: GE

Each Engine on a Boeing 777X Weighs 21,230 Pounds


The General Electric GE9X engine is the world’s largest commercial jet engine to date, with a weight of 21,230 lb (9,630 kg). It was created specifically for the Boeing 777X. It is based on the GE90 engine, but with a larger fan and a lighter design. With a massive push of 134,300 pounds, the GE9X holds the Guinness World Record for the highest recorded thrust.

Why so big? With its newest engine, GE aims to direct as much air as possible around, rather than through, the engine’s core. This is referred to as bypass flow by engineers. Bigger fans make it possible. The bypass ratio on the GE9X is 10:1, compared to 7.5:1 on the original GE90.

Lufthansa Boeing 747-8i reg. D-ABYT on final at Frankfurt International Airport (FRA). Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

The Speed of the Boeing 747-8i


Clocking at 659.85 mph (1061.92 kph) The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental variant is currently the fastest commercial plane in operation. With a top speed of Mach 0.86, this plane is as tall as a six-story building.

Its predecessor, the first wide-body ever produced Boeing 747 has a maximum speed of 593.40 mph (955 kph).

Photo: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Only 5% of the World’s Population Has Ever Traveled by Plane


Despite the fact that the aviation industry is continually expanding, only 5% of the world’s population has ever flown in an airplane.

Many people, particularly those from developing countries, have never flown before and are unlikely to do so in their lifetimes. In reality, just a small percentage of the world’s population flies frequently.

Aeroflot Airbus A330-300 VQ-BMX. Photo: Davide Calabresi/Airways

The Average Age of Commercial Aircraft


An airliner’s lifespan isn’t fully measured in time. It is instead counted in terms of pressurization cycles. The fuselage of an airplane is stressed every time it is pressurized during a flight. An aircraft’s “lifespan” is reached when specific metal fatigues and cracks begin to pose a threat.

For most aircraft, a “service life of 20 years” is roughly approximated as 51,000 flying hours and 75,000 pressurization cycles. When an airplane is utilized on long-distance routes, it only goes through a few pressurization cycles over its “life” and can last well beyond 20 years.


Featured image: Boeing 747-8i first flight. This aircraft registered as N6067E now belongs to the state of Kuwait as a state aircraft. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways