Boeing 747, also known as Jumbo, is famous for its capacity - it is the largest passenger aircraft, which is used by now. There are over one and a half thousand Jumbos produced by Boeing, and also it is the most famous Boeing Aircraft - even those, who haven't experienced traveling by Boeing planes, know about 747 model from different encyclopedias, as about one of the highest achievements of the aircraft producing industry. Of course, now 747 is rather an old aircraft, but it is still used for it's reliability and the maximum quantity of passenger seats aboard - 600 in one-class layout or near 400 in common three-class configuration.
The idea of the 'large plane' appeared because of the 1960s air travel rush. Jets have already made long distance traveling much more convenient and useful. The world becomes smaller and the understanding of the world as the global village becomes real. In such conditions many people understood the concept of 'giant' airlifter. Another Boeing jet, 707 was very popular that time, so it was the Boeing, who started to develop another revolutionary aircraft with support of major airlines, such as Pan Am.
The first official project of Boeing 747 was proposed in 1966. It was a double decked wide-bodied high capacity passenger aircraft. After some modernizations it was produced as Boeing 747-100, the first incarnation of this line of planes. What is Boeing 747 in a closer sight? Four engines allow reaching a high-subsonic speed (565 mph or 909 km/h). The usual configuration includes two decks - the smaller one is commonly used for Business-class seats. Large fuel tanks make Boeing 747 sufficient to fly over 8000 miles or 13 thousand kilometers, with non-stop intercontinental range flights possible especially for so called ER (Extended Range) variations of different 747 models. The latest version of 747, The Boeing 747-400 can cover 14.000 kilometers with 412 tons of take-of weight.
However, many modifications of 747 are used today. Even 747-100 and 747-200 are in use, but they can be found in flight museums also. The Air Force One, the current United States Presidential aircraft is also Boeing 747-200. The 747 Special Performance or Baby Jumbo - as it called for its fuelage, which is shorter, than usual, - is also flying for non-passenger lines. One of the 747SPs was modified into SOFIA astronomical observatory. The 747-300 was familiar to the passengers by straight staircase, leading to the 'stretched upper deck'. It also has an increased capacity. And 747-400, which is still produced, is famous as the highest-capacity passenger air vehicle - and its only competitor here is Airbus A380, which will enter the service in 2006. Combi (747-400M) and freighter (747-400F) variants are also available. Despite for 777 and 787 models, Boeing still modernizes 747 and the last news from Boeing - 747 Advanced - proves the further usability of this aircraft.
Although it is not so popular as before, it remains the bright page of aircraft development history.