The Boeing 747 had its origins in the mid-60's when a project to supply the USAF with a large logistics aircraft was unsuccessful. In 1966 Boeing put many of the project's design developments toward a large commercial airliner project which first flew on February 9, 1969. The aircraft promptly became known to the public as the 'Jumbo Jet', and it entered service with Pan American (who ordered 25 in 1966) on the New York-London route on January 22, 1970. The high capacity aircraft (seating 10 abreast with two aisles) has changed the face of air transport, forcing airports to enlarge their facilities to cater for the increased number of passengers - up to 630 per aircraft.
Subsequently the aircraft has undergone a number of developments allowing for more power, increased weights and range, and a variety of seating combinations. The -200 model flew in October 1970, the -300 in October1983, and the -400 in April 1988. Along the way a number of specialist versions were produced - such as the -100SR short range high capacity version (October 10, 1973) for JAL, the hinge nosed -200F freighter (November 30, 1971) and -200C convertible (March 23, 1973), the -200 combi with side freight door, and the -200SUD stretched upper deck. The 747SP is the most distinctive 'special' version, being 14.30m shorter than the standard -100 aircraft and 1.52m taller. Designed for the longer range lower demand routes, it first flew on July 4, 1975. (There was no prototype, this was the first production aircraft). A military variant was eventually produced, the E-4A Airborne Command Post first flew on June 13, 1973. This entered service in December 1974 as part of Project Looking Glass to replace EC-135s. An E-4B version appeared in 1980. 747's have also been used as military transports.
The -400 model is considerably redesigned from the original 747-100 model. Most visible is the wing, with increased span, aerodynamic improvements, and winglets. The construction includes modern composites to save weight, and the uprated engines offering more than 10,000lbs of thrust over the original. Cockpit technology allows for only two crew using electronic flight information systems.
A number of airlines currently operate the 747 through New Zealand, including the national carrier, Air New Zealand. Their first 5 aircraft (model 747-200) were ordered by the airline in 1980, entering service the following year. The aircraft were named after Waka (canoes) of the 'great fleet' (ZK-NZV Aotea, ZK-NZW Tainui, ZK-NZX Takitimu, ZK-NZY Te Arawa, and ZK-NZZ Tokomaru) used by the Maori people for their largest migration to New Zealand. The airline began to utilise the 747-400 in 1995, with the new model being displayed in a new livery. The first two aircraft ZK-SUI and ZK-SUH being a -441 and -475 respectively. Three more 747-419 models (ZK-NBS, NBT, and NBU) are currently in the fleet.
In May 1998 Air New Zealand announced the sale of its -200 aircraft to Virgin Atlantic, with the aircraft to be delivered between 1999 and 2001. A further -400, and a -300 for trans-Tasman services are expected to be added to the Air New Zealand fleet.
Last Update:- 27 July, 1998
Data is for 747-200
© 1996-98 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved