1969: Boeing successfully tests its new 747 jumbo jet.
With the boom in commercial air travel in the 1960s, the need for an airplane capable of handling more passengers than Boeing’s reliable 707, became evident. The technology of jet-engine design was rapidly evolving, however, and the feeling was that any new aircraft built using existing subsonic engines would soon be rendered obsolete by aircraft capable of supersonic flight.
The 747 was then designed as a commercial passenger airliner that could be easily converted to hauling cargo, which Boeing believed would ensure its long-term sustainability.
The original 747-100 could carry more than twice as many passengers as its 707 sibling, between 366 and 452 passengers. It was propelled by four Pratt & Whitney high-bypass turbofan jets, and designed with a number of mechanical and electronic redundancies to ensure maximum safety of the aircraft. The first 747 entered commercial service with Pan American Airways in 1970.
Supersonic flight proved a bust due largely to various financial, environmental and technical reasons. The 747, expected to be obsolete after 400 were built, surpassed 1,000 manufactured aircraft in 1993. With several developments and modifications across the 747 family, the aircraft currently remains in production, with more than 800 in service worldwide.