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11.10.2005

Trivial Interlude: Boeing 747 Edition

  • A 747-400 has six million parts (half of which are fasteners) made in 33 different countries.
  • Just one engine on a 747 produces more thrust than all four engines on an early model Boeing 707 combined.
  • When pressurized, a 747 fuselage holds over a ton of air.
  • The 747-400 is about 25 percent more fuel efficient than the 747-100, and twice as quiet.
  • Early model 747s have more than 700lbs (300 kg) of depleted uranium molded into the engine nacelles. Its purpose is as ballast to prevent the wing from fluttering.
  • One of the original 747 design proposals was a full double decker, similar to the Airbus A380. Boeing dropped the idea at the eleventh hour, arguing that a wide single decker would be both more economical to operate and safer.
  • During the flight certification period, Boeing built an unusual training device known as "Waddell's Wagon" (named after the 747 test pilot, Jack Waddell) which consisted of a mock-up cockpit mounted on the roof of a truck. It was intended to train pilots on how to taxi the aircraft from the high upper deck position.
  • At the time of its launch, the term "jumbo jet" had already been coined by the media to describe a general class of new wide-bodied airliners then being developed, including the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar and Douglas DC-10. Boeing was quite keen to discourage the media and the public using the term "jumbo jet" for the 747, but their efforts were in vain, and now the term is synonymous with the 747.
  • The 747SP was originally intended to be known as the 747SB (the SB logically standing for "Short Body", before it was nicknamed "Sutter's Balloon" by Boeing employees, being named after 747 chief engineer Joe Sutter). Eventually the name "Special Performance" was used instead.
  • Due to its immense length, there is a very small flexure of the fuselage in flight. This effect was not anticipated in the design of the autopilot on early models, and so there is a very slow oscillation in yaw when flying on autopilot. This was first discovered on an overseas flight to the Paris Airshow, when some of the people in the rear got air sick. Upon return, the plane went through a shake test for two weeks to sort out the problem and adjust the yaw damper system. This solved the problem and the effect is now too small to be noticeable by passengers.
  • To enable easy transportation of spare engines between sites by airlines, the 747 includes the ability to attach a non functioning fifth-pod engine under the port wing of the aircraft, between the nearest functioning engine and the fuselage. Photographs of planes flying in this configuration are highly prized by aircraft enthusiasts. [5] [6]
  • There is another airplane which has a hump on the upper fuselage, the Carvair, which was built from 1961 to 1969. Its most notable appearance is in the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger.
  • In the 1970's 747 pilots nicknamed the Jumbo Jet, "The Queen of the Skies" because of it's huge size and capacity.

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