viernes, 4 de enero de 2013
Boeing 747-800, the legend continues
Almost 43 years ago the 747 took off for the first time. The crowds gathered in Everett to witness history, the TV crews took their positions and the guests couldn't believe that enormous and mighty piece of engineering would take off and become the most successful airplane in commercial aviation. Few or none would have believed in that cold and gray February day of 1969 that decades would pass and the 747 would continue being a vital asset for the industry. As of 2012, 1,448 747s have been built, and around 3.5 billion people have experienced the delight of flying in it. The aircraft has obviously evolved and apart from its external design, very few elements of the early 747s remain in the newest versions of the plane. For example, a recent 747 has around 360 lights, gauges and switches, while the first models had almost 1,000!
Boeing points out that the 747 has flown almost 78 billion kilometers, equivalent to more that 100,000 round trips to the Moon. Throughout its history the external design has suffered few easily noticeable changes, and maybe the only exception is the 747-SP, a shorter version designed to reach longer distances (less weight and same power as the normal version). The 747 Dreamlifter is the craziest exception which was designed to carry parts of the 787 Dreamliner to be assembled in Everett.
In 2005, after much speculation, Boeing announced the 747-800, which is more than 70 m. larger than the previous versions. As a result, it can carry more passengers and cargo and was built in part as a response to Airbus's a380. Nevertheless Boeing and Airbus continue to have slightly different approaches towards the future of commercial aviation. Airbus built the enormous a380 thinking of a future in which major hubs will be used to connect main destinations and secondary flights with smaller aircraft would connect the hubs with other cities. Boeing in the other hand believes in point to point connections, instead of using connection hubs. In a way, that idea is behind the development of the Boeing 787, which by the way shares its modern cockpit and engines with the 747-800.
The 747-800is able to carry 467 passengers, while the 747-800 I (Intercontinental) can carry 518 and more cargo. As of early 2013, 36 747-800 have been delivered. The freight model has attracted the attention of many operators and Cargolux, Atlas Air, Korean Air Cargo and Cathay Pacific Cargo are among the first operators of that version. Lufthansa already operates four models of the passenger version of the aircraft and is expecting the delivery of 15 more.
So 43 years after the 747 first took off, the legend is alive and will continue to write many pages in aviation history!
Link to the video of the first flight of he 747 in 1969:
Air Crash Investigation: