MIAMI – Today in Aviation, the much-upgraded passenger variant of the Boeing 747 the -200, took to the skies for the first time in 1970.
The Boeing 747-100 had entered service with Pan American on January 22, 1970. From the outset issues with the type’s performance led to demand for a much-upgraded version. This became the -200 which was developed alongside the prototype. It entered service with Lufthansa (LH) in February 1971.
The new variant offered increased payload and range. This was in part down to the upgraded engines. The -100 had been equipped with Pratt & Whitney JT9D-3A engines. However, they lacked the performance required for true long-haul operations.
Pratt & Whitney went on to develop the JT9D-7 engine. Boeing also approached General Electric and Rolls Royce to develop their own powerplants and increase the Boeing 747s marketing potential.
Boeing produced four versions of the -200. The -200/-200B was the passenger-only model, of which 225 were built. The -200F was the freighter variant and 73 of these were built.
Boeing also offered a freighter/passenger ‘Combi’ version, known as the -200M. 78 were built. Finally, there was the -200C ‘Converitble’ which, as the name suggests, could be converted between passenger and freighter model. 13 were built.
In 1990, two Boeing 747-200Bs were modified to serve as Air Force One. They replaced the VC-137s (Boeing 707s) that had previously served as the US Presidental plane for almost 30 years.
Featured image: Iran Air (IR) became the last airline to operate the passenger variant of the -200, retiring its last example in May 2016 after 36 years service. (Photo: Sergey Kustov, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons)