Legacy in the Sky: A Boeing 747 Timeline

Legacy in the Sky: A Boeing 747 Timeline

DALLAS — The iconic Boeing 747 has left a lasting legacy in the industry. The “Queen of the Skies” was the first airplane with two aisles, and it also marked the first commercial use of the high bypass turbofan engine. Before the Jumbo Jet, long-haul flights were a luxury only affordable to a handful of people.

The Boeing 747 played an important role in the globalization of air travel. The 747’s innovative design, size, range, and versatility revolutionized air travel, making it possible for millions of people to fly across the globe at an affordable cost.

Moreover, its impact on the aviation industry goes beyond its operational capabilities. Its hump-shaped upper deck has made it an icon of commercial aviation and an important part of popular culture. The 747 has been featured in numerous movies, TV shows, and advertisements, and has become a symbol of air travel for generations of people around the world.

The Jumbo’s large passenger capacity and cargo hold made it an indispensable aircraft for a wide range of missions, from transporting passengers and cargo to serving as a platform for military and government operations.

But more importantly, the Boeing 747 played a critical role in the globalization of air travel and has made the world a smaller and more connected place.

On January 31, 2023, Boeing delivered its 1574th and last 747 from a production run that has spanned 55 years to Atlas Air (5Y), the world’s largest operator of the jumbo jet.

In this post, we’ll explore the Boeing 747’s timeline, its variants, and its operators since the program’s inception in 1966.

Qantas VH-OEI Boeing 747-438(ER). Photo: Luca Flores/Airways

Boeing 747, a Brief Timeline

In March 1966, Boeing’s board of directors decided to proceed with the 747 Program. In the same year, Pan American World Airways announced a US$525m order for 25 Boeing 747s, effectively launching the 747 Program.

  • 1968: First 747-100 rolled out of the factory.
  • 1969: The first Boeing 747, also known as the 747-100, performed its maiden flight.
  • 1970: The 747-100 entered into commercial service with Pan American World Airways.
  • 1971: The 747-200 was introduced with The Netherlands’ KLM — Royal Dutch Airlines (KL), featuring a stretched fuselage and increased passenger capacity. Boeing delivered its 100th 747 to Braniff Airlines.
  • 1972: The 747-200F entered into service with Lufthansa (LH).
  • 1976: The 747SP (Special Performance) variant was introduced with Pan American World Airways, featuring a shortened fuselage and increased range. It was developed after a joint request between Pan American World Airways and Iran Air (IR).
  • 1983: The 747-300 was introduced with Swissair (LX), featuring a stretched upper deck and increased passenger capacity.
  • 1989: The 747-400 was introduced with Northwest Airlines (NW), featuring a redesigned wing, advanced avionics, and increased passenger capacity.
  • 1990: Boeing delivered the first of two presidential 747-200s to the U.S. Air Force.
  • 1993: The 747-400F entered into commercial service with Luxembourg’s Cargolux Airlines (CV). Boeing delivered its 1,000th 747 to Singapore Airlines (SQ).
  • 1999: Boeing delivered its 1,200th 747 to British Airways (BA).
  • 2002: The 747-400ER passenger version was introduced with Qantas (QF). The freighter version was introduced with Air France (AF) (financed by International Finance Lease Corporation).
  • 2005: Boeing launched the 747-8 Family – the 747-8 Intercontinental passenger version and the 747-8 Freighter version, featuring a redesigned wing, updated engines, and increased passenger capacity.
  • 2011: The 747-8 freighter version entered into commercial service with Cargolux Airlines.
  • 2012: The 747-8 Intercontinental passenger version entered into commercial service with the German flag carrier Lufthansa.
  • 2022: The final production of the 747-8 rolled out of the Everett plant, with several units still in service worldwide.
  • 2023: The final and 1,574th 747 was delivered to Atlas Air on 31st January 2023.
N401PW was pictured during its maiden flight in 1988. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Boeing 747 Variants

The Boeing 747-100 was the original variant that rolled out of Boeing’s factory in 1968. It was soon followed by the 747-200, with its introduction in the early 1970s. The 747-300 was launched in the 1980s and was followed by the 747-400 in the late 1980s. Ultimately, the 747-8 variant was launched in 2005.


First Order: April 13, 1966

First Flight: February 09, 1969

First Delivery: December 13, 1969

Entry Into Service: January 21, 1970

Launch Customer: Pan American World Airways (PA)

Last Delivery: September 1986

Last Customer: Japan Air Lines (JL)

The Boeing 747-100 was the original variant of the Boeing 747 series, and it was a game-changer in the aviation industry. Initially designed to meet the increasing demand for air travel in the 1960s and 1970s, it offered a major step up in terms of passenger capacity, speed, and range compared to the existing airliners at that time.

The 747-100 featured a distinctive upper deck hump and a spacious two-deck cabin that could accommodate up to 366 passengers in a typical two-class configuration. The type was powered by four Pratt & Whitney JT9D high-bypass-ratio turbofan engines, which were more fuel-efficient and produced less noise than older turbojet engines available at that time. It had a maximum range of 4,620 nautical miles and a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 735,000 – 750,000 lb (333.4 – 340.2 tonnes).

The 747-100 was first introduced into commercial service on January 21, 1970, with Pan American World Airways on a flight from New York to London and it quickly became a popular choice for airlines around the world. Major operators of the 747-100 included British Airways (BA), Lufthansa (LH), Japan Airlines (JL), and Air France (AF), among others. Even though no freighter version of this model was developed, many 747-100s were converted into freighters as 747-100 (SF).

One of the variations of the 747-100 was the 747-100SR, which was a short-range version developed in a move to respond to requests from Japanese airlines for a high-capacity aircraft to serve domestic routes between major cities.

The 747-100SR variant was designed for use on high-density, short-haul routes and was equipped with a higher maximum takeoff weight, which allowed it to carry more passengers and fuel. It was a popular choice among Asian airlines, where the demand for air travel was growing rapidly. Major operators of the SR included JL, ANA All Nippon Airways (NH), and Philippine Airlines (PR), among others.

Another variation was the 747-100B, which was developed from the 747-100SR, using its stronger airframe and landing gear design. The 747-100B had an increased fuel capacity of 48,070 US gal (182,000 liters), allowing for a 5,000 nautical mile (9,300 km) range with a typical 452-passenger payload, and an increased MTOW of 750,000 lb (340 tonnes).

Unlike the other -100 variants, the -100B was offered with Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7A, CF6-50, or Rolls-Royce RB211-524 engines. However, only nine -100Bs were built, one for Iran Air (IR) and the remaining eight for Saudi Arabian Airlines (SV). IR retired the last 747-100B in 2014.

82-8000 United States Air Force Boeing 747-200 B742 JFK KFJK. Photo: Francesco Cecchetti/Airways


First Order: December 19, 1968

First Flight: October 11, 1970

First Delivery: January 15, 1971

Entry Into Service: June 1971

Launch Customer: KLM (KL)

Last Delivery: December 1990

Last Customer: United States Air Force

To meet the rising need for aircraft with a greater range and higher load capacity, Boeing created the 747-200 variant. KLM was the first to use the 747-200, which had a larger fuselage, more passengers, a higher maximum takeoff weight, and more powerful engines than the original 747-100. The 747-200 was introduced in 1971.

These improvements made the 747-200 even more attractive to airlines, and it became one of the most popular commercial aircraft of its time. The first -200 rolled out of Boeing’s factory in the September of 1970 with the type completing its first flight a month later in October of that same year.

The 747-200 had a maximum passenger capacity of up to 366 passengers in a typical two-class configuration, and it was initially equipped with four Pratt & Whitney JT9D high-bypass-ratio turbofan engines, which provided improved fuel efficiency and reduced noise levels compared to earlier turbojet engines. The 747-200 had a maximum range of 6,560 nautical miles and an MTOW of 775,000 – 833,000 lb (351.5 – 377.8 tonnes).

Even though some of the early -200s retained the three-window configuration of the -100 on the upper deck, most of them were built with a ten-window configuration on each side. Major operators of the 747-200B include JL, LH, and Qantas (QF). Alongside the basic passenger version, the 747-200 was produced in freighter (-200F), convertible (-200C), and combi (-200M) versions which are briefly explained below.

The 747-200 Freighter joined the fleet in 1974. Photo: Eduard Marmet, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons


First Order: March 03, 1969

First Flight: November 30, 1971

First Delivery: March 10, 1972

Entry Into Service: April 19, 1972

Launch Customer: Lufthansa (LH)

Last Delivery: November 1991

Last Customer: Nippon Cargo Airlines (KZ)

Another variant of the 747-200 was the 747-200F, which was a convertible passenger/freighter version of the aircraft. The 747-200F was designed with a hinged nose cargo door and it could be fitted with an optional side cargo door, and had a capacity of 105 tons (95.3 tonnes) and an MTOW of up to 833,000 pounds (378 tonnes). The freighter variant was equipped with a large cargo hold that could accommodate a wide range of cargo pallets,

The freighter model, the 747-200F entered into service with the German flag carrier, LH in 1972. Major operators of the 747-200F included JL, NH, and Korean Air (KE), among others.

Boeing 747-270C-SCD, Iraqi Airways. Photo: Tim Rees. GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons


First Order: March 27, 1972

First Flight: March 23, 1973

First Delivery: April 30, 1973

Entry Into Service: May 1973

Launch Customer: World Airways (WO)

Last Delivery: September 1988

Last Customer: Martinair (MP)

The 747-200C was a convertible version of the 747-200, which combined a passenger cabin with a large cargo hold. The 747-200C was designed for use by airlines that needed to carry both passengers and cargo on the same aircraft. The 747-200C was equipped with a large cargo door that allowed quick and easy loading and unloading of freight.

The convertible version could be converted between a passenger and a freighter or used in mixed configurations and it had a maximum passenger capacity of up to 416 passengers in a typical two-class configuration. It featured removable seats and a nose cargo door alongside an optional side cargo door that could be outfitted on the main deck. Major operators of the 747-200C included KLM (KL), AF, Iraqi Airways (IA), and Cathay Pacific (CX), among others.

AP-BAK, PIA Boeing 747M. Photo: RHL Images from England, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


First Order: April 08, 1974

First Flight: November 18, 1974

First Delivery: March 07, 1975

Entry Into Service: March 7, 1975

Launch Customer: Air Canada (AC)

Last Delivery: December 09, 1989

Last Customer: Abu Dhabi Government (UAE)

The 747-200M, also known as the 747-200 Combi was the combi version of the 747-200, which combined the passenger cabin of the 747-200 with the cargo hold of the 747-200F. The 747-200M was designed for use by airlines that needed to carry both passengers and cargo on the same aircraft. The -200M could carry up to 238 passengers in a three-class configuration with cargo carried on the main deck.

The 747-200BC Combi version model could carry freight in the rear section of the main deck via a side cargo door. Moreover, a removable partition on the main deck separated the cargo area at the rear from the passengers at the front section. A total of 74 Boeing 747-200 combis were delivered.

The 747-200s were highly versatile aircraft used by many airlines around the world. The different variants, including the -200F, -200C, and -200M, made it possible for airlines to carry both passengers and cargo on the same aircraft, which greatly increased their operational efficiency. The 747-200 was an important milestone in the development of the Boeing 747 series, and it played a critical role in the growth of the aviation industry.

A total of 393 -200 version aircraft had been built when production ended in 1991. Of these, 225 were 747-200s, 73 were 747-200F, 13 were 747-200C, 78 were 747-200M, and 4 were military.

The -200 was the first Boeing 747 variant to provide a choice of powerplant from the three major engine manufacturers. Initially launched solely with the Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7 engines, Boeing announced that it had reached an agreement with General Electric to certify the 747 with CF6-50 series engines. Shortly after, Boeing reached an agreement with Rolls-Royce for the production of RB211-524B engines with a launch order from British flag carrier BA.

Clipper New Horizons N533PA at JFK in 1977. The 747SP served long-haul routes such as New York To Tokyo. Photo: Pan Am via Twitter


First Order: September 10, 1973

First Flight: July 04, 1975

First Delivery: March 05, 1976

Entry Into Service: April 25, 1976

Launch Customer: Pan American World Airways (PA)

Last Delivery: December 09, 1989

Last Customer: Abu Dhabi Government (UAE)

The Boeing 747SP (Special Performance) was a shortened version of the 747-100 introduced in 1976 by Pan American World Airways. The SP was designed to offer improved performance, range, and fuel efficiency compared to the 747-100, and it was a popular choice for airlines operating long-haul routes as well as with airlines wishing to operate the jumbo jet at major airports with short runways.

The 747SP had a maximum range of up to 6,650 nautical miles, and it was capable of carrying around 276 passengers in a typical two-class configuration.

The shortened version was developed to address a joint request from Pan American World Airways and IR, who were looking for a high-capacity long-range airliner with enough range to cover Pan Am’s New York—Middle Eastern routes and Iran Air’s planned Tehran—New York route. Operators of the 747SP included Pan American World Airways, United Airlines (UA), South African Airways (SA), and Iran Air (IR), among others.

The Boeing 747SP was an attractive option for long-haul flights due to its high aspect ratio wing and more powerful engines. Though it was only in service for a short time, it had a significant effect on the aviation industry and is still fondly remembered. 45 of the 747SP planes were built in total, with the last one being delivered to the United Arab Emirates government in 1987.

Boeing 747-300 (HS-UTN) started life with Japan Air Lines in 1984. Photo: Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


First Order: June 11, 1980

First Flight: October 05, 1982

First Delivery: March 01, 1983 (to UTA)

Entry Into Service: March 28, 1983

Launch Customer: Swissair (LX)

Last Delivery: October 1988

Last Customer: Japan Asia Airways (EG)

The Boeing 747-300 was introduced in 1983 by Swissair (LX) as an upgraded version of the 747-200, offering improved passenger capacity, performance, and fuel efficiency. The 747-300 featured a stretched upper deck that provided additional passenger space, as well as a range of other improvements, including new engines, upgraded avionics, and improved systems.

One of the main advantages of the 747-300 was its increased passenger capacity, which allowed airlines to offer more seating on long-haul routes. In typical two-class configurations, the 747-300 could accommodate over 400 passengers, making it an attractive choice for airlines looking to maximize their revenue. In addition to its increased passenger capacity, the 747-300 also offered improved performance and fuel efficiency.

The 747-300s were offered with more powerful engines, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce powerplants as on the -200, as well as updated General Electric CF6-80C2B1 engines instead of the CF6-50E2 engine offered on the dash 200 and aerodynamic improvements, which allowed it to operate more efficiently and reduce its operating costs.

The 747-300SR, a short-range, high-capacity domestic model, was produced for Japanese markets with maximum seating of 584. The 747-300SR is a short-range version of the 300 to meet the need for a high-capacity domestic model. Japan Airlines operated this type with more than 600 seats on the Okinawa – Tokyo route and elsewhere.

The 747-300 was a popular choice among many airlines, and major operators of the type included AF, Air India (AI), Pakistan International Airlines (PK), and QF, among others. Boeing never launched a newly built freighter version of the 747-300, but it modified used passenger -300 models into freighters starting in 2000.

A TAAG Angola Airlines Boeing 747-312M at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG / LFPG). Photo: András Deák, GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons


First Order: June 11, 1980

First Flight: February 14, 1983

First Delivery: March 05, 1983

Entry Into Service: March 1983

Launch Customer: Swissair (LX)

Last Delivery: September 1990

Last Customer: Sabena (SN)

The 747-300M was a combi version of the 747-300 that had cargo capacity on the back part of the main deck. It was similar to the -200M, but with more passenger capacity due to its extended upper deck at 23 feet 4 inches (7.11 m). A total of 81 of the -300 series were delivered: 56 for passengers, 21 -300M, and four -300 SR.

Two of the three engine choices from the dash 200 variant were unchanged in the dash 300, but the General Electric CF6-80C2B1 was offered instead of the CF6-50E2 offered on the previous version.

Thai Airways International’s Boeing 747-400 is pictured in retro livery. The airline retired its Boeing 747 fleet in 2021. Photo: Denis Fedorko, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


First Order: October 22, 1985

First Flight: April 29, 1988

First Delivery: January 26, 1989

Entry Into Service: February 09, 1989

Launch Customer: Northwest Airlines (NW)

The 747-400 was announced by Boeing in October 1985 as a further evolution of the 747 series, offering improved passenger comfort, performance, and efficiency. The 747-400 featured a new glass cockpit, advanced avionics, and more powerful engines.

Compared to the 747-300 the 747-400 has 6 feet (1.8 m) wing tip extensions and 6 feet (1.8 m) winglets. Furthermore, the glass cockpit dispensed the need for a flight engineer for the first time in the Boeing 747 family.

The Boeing 747-400 was introduced by Northwest Airlines. The -400 features tail fuel tanks, revised engines, an all-new interior, revised fuselage/wing fairings, and newer in-flight entertainment. The 747-400 also included the stretched upper deck (SUD) as a standard feature.

However, the SUD was almost twice as long as the standard upper deck. Even though the wingspan was increased, the overall weight of the wings was reduced due to the use of composites and aluminum alloys.

KLM Asia Boeing 747-400M landing at Schiphol (AMS). Photo: Flo Weiss, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


First Order: April 09, 1986

First Flight: June 30, 1989

First Delivery: September 01, 1989

Entry Into Service: September 1989

Launch Customer: KLM (KL)

Last Delivery: April 10, 1902

Last Customer: KLM (KL)

The 747-400M, also known as the 747-400 Combi, was a combi version of the popular 747-400 that offered a unique combination of passenger and cargo capabilities. Like the successful Combi versions of the Classic 747s, the -400M also featured additional fire protection, a strengthened main deck floor, a roller-conveyor system, and passenger-to-cargo conversion equipment. Boeing sold 61 747-400M aircraft during its production.

The first customer for the 747-400M Combi was KL. The stretched upper deck of the 747-300 and 747-400 Combis can accommodate 44 more passengers than the standard 747-200 Combi. The simultaneous passenger-and-cargo loading/unloading is only possible because of the stability allowed by the fore and aft arrangement of the wing and body landing gear.

Boeing 747-400D. Photo: Kentaro Iemoto from Tokyo, Japan, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


First Order: December 18, 1988

First Flight: March 18, 1991

First Delivery: October 10, 1991

Entry Into Service: October 1991

Launch Customer: Japan Air Lines (JL)

Last Delivery: December 1995

Last Customer: All Nippon Airways (NH)

The 747-400D, also known as the 747-400 Domestic, was a high-density, shorter-range version of the 747-400 that was designed for short-haul flights. This variant was popular among Japanese airlines for domestic flights and was a common sight on routes throughout Asia and Europe. This version of the aircraft is capable of seating a maximum of 568 passengers in a 2-class configuration or 660 passengers in a single-class configuration.

The -400D lacks wingtip extensions and winglets in comparison to other variants, allowing for more takeoffs and landings by lowering wing stresses. However, the benefits of winglets would be minimal on short routes. The -400D could be converted to the long-range version if needed. The 400D version can be distinguished from the otherwise similar-looking 747-300 by the extra windows on the upper deck.

The 747-400 Domestic first flew on March 18, 1991, and entered service with JLs in 1991. The last was delivered to NH in December 1995. In total, 19 747-400Ds were built primarily for the Japanese market, with the last one retired by NH on March 31, 2014.

Asiana Cargo HL7436 Boeing 747-400F. Photo: Lorenzo Giacobbo/Airways


First Order: September 13, 1989

First Flight: May 04, 1993

First Delivery: November 17, 1993

Entry Into Service: November 17, 1993

Launch Customer: Cargolux Airlines (CV)

Last Delivery: May 7, 2009

Last Customer: Nippon Cargo Airlines (KZ)

The Boeing 747-400F, also known as the 747-400 Freighter, is an all-freight version of the 747-400 which uses the fuselage design of the 747-200F. This variant was equipped with a large cargo door, which allowed for easy loading and unloading of cargo, and had a maximum payload capacity of up to 140 metric tons. The 747-400F has been widely used by airlines and cargo operators for its combination of long-range capability and high payload capacity.

The 747-400F entered into commercial service with Cargolux Airlines (CV) on November 17, 1993. Major operators include 5Y, CV, China Airlines (CI), KE, NH, Polar Air Cargo, and Singapore Airlines (SQ), among others. The -400F can be easily distinguished from the passenger -400 by its shorter upper-deck hump.

Moreover, the United States Air Force has also purchased seven 747-400Fs to act as “Airborne Laser” carriers, designated YAL-1A. These aircraft were heavily modified to carry a nose-mounted turret and Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL) equipment.

QANTAS Boeing 747-400ER VH-OEG. Photo: Cory W. Watts from Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


First Order: December 19, 2000

First Flight: July 31, 2002

First Delivery: October 31, 2002

Entry Into Service: November 07, 2002

Launch Customer: Qantas Airways (QF)

Last Delivery: July 30, 2003

Last Customer: Qantas Airways (QF)

The 747-400ER, also known as the 747-400 Extended Range, was an extended-range version of the 747-400 that was capable of flying longer distances. Launched following an order from QF for six aircraft, this was the only order for the passenger version. The -400ER could fly an additional 805 km or carry 6,800 kg more freight.

This variant was equipped with 1 or 2 additional 3,240 US gallon body fuel tanks in the forward cargo hold. These tanks manufactured by Marshall Aerospace utilized innovative metal-to-metal honeycomb bonded technology to achieve an incredibly high dry weight-to-fuel volume ratio.

Similar technology has been used in the development by the British manufacturer of body fuel tanks for the 777-200LR and P-8A Poseidon MMA aircraft.

Jade Cargo International Boeing 747-400ERF in 2011. Photo: By Konstantin von Wedelstaedt, GFDL 1.2


First Order: April 17, 2001

First Flight: September 2002

First Delivery: October 17, 2002

Entry Into Service: October 2002

Launch Customer: Air France (AF)

Last Delivery: November 10, 2009

Last Customer: LoadAir Cargo

The 747-400ERF, also known as the 747-400 Extended Range Freighter, was a cargo version of the 747-400ER. Like the 747-400F, it was equipped with a large cargo door, and it had a maximum payload capacity of up to 248,600 pounds (112,760 kg). The first -400ERF was delivered to AF on October 17, 2002. It has a maximum range of 9,200 km with a maximum payload, about 525 km farther than other 747-400 freighters, and has a strengthened fuselage, landing gear, and parts of its wing, along with new, larger tires.

The 747-400ERF was used by a handful of airlines and cargo operators for its combination of long-range capability and high payload capacity. In total, Boeing delivered 40 Boeing 747-400ERFs.

N718BA Boeing Company Boeing 747-400F(LCF) Dreamlifter. Photo: Nick Sheeder/Airways

747 LCF Dreamlifter

The 747-400 Dreamlifter (originally called the 747 Large Cargo Freighter or LCF) is a Boeing-designed conversion of used passenger 747-400s into a larger outsize cargo freighter configuration to ferry 787 Dreamliner sub-assemblies. The modification of four aircraft was completed by February 2010 by the Evergreen Aviation Technologies Corporation of Taiwan. 

The Dreamlifters have been placed into service transporting sub-assemblies for the 787 program from Japan and Italy to Charleston, South Carolina, and then to Everett, Washington for final assembly. The aircraft is certified to carry only essential crew and not passengers. It can hold three times the volume of a 747-400F freighter.

To sum up, the 747-400 was a major leap forward for the 747 series, providing passengers with better comfort, performance, and fuel efficiency. Airlines around the world have embraced it and it continues to be used as a freight aircraft, showing the incredible staying power of the 747.

It has become a beloved aircraft to aviation fans and is a testament to the magnitude of the Boeing 747’s legacy. In total, 694 of the 747-400 series were delivered.

Nippon Cargo Airlines JA16KZ Boeing 747-8F. Photo: Lorenzo Giacoboo/Airways


First Order: November 14, 2005

First Flight: February 8, 2010

First Delivery: October 12, 2011

Entry Into Service: October 2011

Launch Customer: Cargolux Airlines (CV)

Last Delivery: January 31, 2023

Last Customer: Atlas Air (5Y)

The Boeing 747-8 (referred to as the Boeing 747 Advanced prior to its launch) is the latest version of the Boeing 747 family of aircraft. The 747-8F is a freighter version of the 747-8 and it entered into service in 2011 with Cargolux Airlines. The 747-8 is powered by similar General Electric GEnx engines to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The General Electric GEnx, which is one of the two powerplant choices currently offered for the Dreamliner, is the only engine available for the 747-8. Moreover, the cockpit technology is also similar to that of the 787 Dreamliner. It features a large cargo door and has a maximum payload capacity of up to 292,400 lb (132.6 tonnes). With a maximum take-off weight of 970,000 lb (440,000 kg), the 747-8 will be the heaviest aircraft, commercial or military, to be manufactured in the United States.

The 747-8F variant was designed to be quieter, more economical, and more environmentally friendly. The 747-8’s fuselage is lengthened from 232 feet (71 m) to 251 feet (77 m), marking the first stretch variant of the Queen of the Skies. It is equipped with modern avionics and engines, which provide improved fuel efficiency and performance compared to previous 747 models.

The 747-8 Freighter, has 16% more payload capacity than its predecessor, allowing it to carry seven more standard air cargo containers. As on previous 747 freighters, the 747-8F features a flip-up nose door, a side door on the main deck, and a side door on the lower deck (“belly”) to aid in easy loading and unloading of cargo. Major operators of the 747-8F include CV, 5Y, KE, CX, and AirBridge Cargo Airlines (RU), among others.

Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental in house colors. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

747-8 Intercontinental

First Order: December 6, 2006

First Flight:  March 20, 2011

First Delivery: May 5, 2012

Entry Into Service: June 1, 2012

Launch Customer: Lufthansa (LH)

Last Delivery: July 31, 2017

Last Customer: Korean Air Lines (KE)

The 747-8I or 747-8 Intercontinental is the ultimate passenger version of the Boeing 747 family and it was designed for long-haul operations with a spacious and comfortable cabin that can accommodate up to 467 passengers in a typical two-class configuration. The 747-8 uses the same engine and cockpit technology as that of its sister 787 Dreamliner. As a derivative of the most popular 747-400 variant, the 747-8 has the economic benefit of similar training and interchangeable parts.

The Boeing 787-8I entered into service with the German flag carrier in 2012. Major operators of the 747-8 Intercontinental include LH, KE, and Air China (CA). As compared to its passenger variant, the freighter version of the ultimate 747-8 has received more orders. The freighter version attracted 108 orders out of a total of 156 orders, whereas the Intercontinental passenger version logged orders for 48 aircraft. As a result, the last passenger version was delivered almost five years prior to the last freighter version.

In conclusion, the 747-8F and 747-8I are the latest and ultimate versions of the 747 Boeing family of aircraft and were designed for air cargo and passenger operations, respectively. They feature modern avionics and engines that provide improved fuel efficiency and performance, and they offer a spacious and comfortable cabin for passengers.

22001 Government of South Korea Boeing 747-8 BBJ MAD LEMD. Photo: Adrian Nowakowski/Airways

Boeing 747 Legacy

Although the Boeing 747 is no longer being produced, its legacy continues to endure, and it remains an important part of the history of commercial aviation. Boeing 747s have logged more than 118 million flight hours and nearly 23 million flight cycles, carrying more than 7.5 billion passengers since their first delivery back in the 1970s.

Despite the termination of its production, the global Boeing 747 fleet will keep on soaring for many years. Its popularity among airlines has decreased in recent years due to the rising popularity of more fuel-efficient twin aircraft. The COVID-19 pandemic hastened this trend.

Despite having an aging average age and the rising popularity of newer, more fuel-efficient twin aircraft, the 747 is still an indispensable part of the aviation industry. Its immense size and capacity make it perfect for transporting large amounts of cargo, and a great many airlines still utilize the Jumbo Jet for this purpose.

While its popularity has declined in recent years, the 747 still has a massive role to play in the aviation industry, particularly in the freighter market. The recent efforts to keep flying the 747 freighters for as long as possible are promising signs, but it remains to be seen how successful these efforts will be and what the future of the 747 will look like.

N854GT Atlas Air “Qantas Freight” Boeing 747-8F. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

Even though the final 747-8F has been delivered to Atlas Air, it won’t be the last new 747 to enter service. A pair of new Presidential Airlift Group VC-25Bs known as Air Force One will be the last new Boeing 747s to enter into service, but not before 2027.

 The Boeing 747 stands as a reminder of the human capacity for innovation and ambition, and its influence on the aviation industry and culture will be remembered for generations to come.

The Boeing 747 will always be remembered as one of the greatest aircraft in the history of flight. It will continue to be an inspiration to future generations of engineers and aviators, and its legacy will live on for years to come.

Featured image: Boeing

Sharad Ranabhat mainly covers feature stories alongside other interesting articles. Having written for Sam Chui, Airlive, Travel Radar, Aviation Nepal and others, he aims to cover as many feature stories as possible here at Airways Magazine.

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