The Boeing 747 is one of the most iconic jets in the history of commercial aviation. Introduced in 1970 with Pan American World Airways, it’s a large wide-body jet developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Since then, Boeing has built over 1,500 units, selling them to commercial airlines across the world. Even if you’ve seen the Boeing 747 before, you might be surprised to learn the following facts about it.
#1) The First ‘Jumbo Jet’
While many wide-body jets are now known as “jumbo jets,” the Boeing 747 was the first to receive this title. At the time of its release, it was the largest wide-body jet on the market. This prompted aviation professionals to call the Boeing 747 a “jumbo jet.” Since then, other large wide-body jets have been given this title, including the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 777X.
#2) 150 Miles of Electrical Wiring
To say the Boeing 747 has a lot of electrical wiring would be an understatement. Like all airplanes, the Boeing 747 features a complex electrical system consisting of wiring and various components. If you stretch all of its electrical wiring, however, it would extend over 150 miles.
#3) Over 3.5 Billion Passengers Have Flown In It
The Boeing 747 is recognized as one of the most popular commercial jets of all time. According to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, it’s flown over 3.5 billion passengers since its release in 1970. That’s an impressive feat on its own.
#4) Used By NASA
While commercial airlines have been the Boeing 747’s primary customers, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has used it as well. In the late 1970s, NASA purchased two modified Boeing 747s for space shuttle missions. NASA used the modified 747s to essentially transport its space shuttles. The space shuttle was placed atop the modified 747, after which the 747 took off.
It’s had a good run, but most commercial airlines have since retired the Boeing 747 in favor of newer jets. United Airlines announced plans to phase out the Boeing 747 in 2017. Other commercial airlines have also taken the route by removing the Boeing 747 from service.
#6) $1 Billion to Develop
With a projected program cost of over $1 billion, Boeing went all in with the 747. It’s important to note that the $1 billion reflects the cost of the 747 program when it was conceived, which was over a half-century ago. When accounting for inflation, the modern-day cost of the 747 program is estimated at over $7 billion. Nonetheless, the Boeing 747 performed incredibly well and was undoubtedly a smart investment for the U.S. aerospace manufacturing company.