END of an ERA part -1: How 747 was born

The era of the Boeing 747 comes to an end as Boeing will end its production in 2022. Most of the features you see in today’s modern jetlines comes from the 747. This blog is a part of 5 blog series on it.

First let us know how the 747 was born.

Boeing 747 was launched on 22 January 1970 with Pan American World Airways (or Pan Am). Its development story is very interesting. In 1963 the United States Air Force wanted massive cargo aircraft as the States’s military expanded. Their studies led to initial requirement for CX-Heavy Logistics System (CX-HLS) with a load capacity of 180,000 pounds (81,600 kg) and a speed of Mach 0.75 (500 mph or 800 km/h), and an unrefueled range of 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km) with a payload of 115,000 pounds (52,200 kg). The payload bay had to be 17 feet (5.18 m) wide by 13.5 feet (4.11 m) high and 100 feet (30 m) long with access through doors at the front or rear.

USAF called Boeing, Douglas, Lockheed, and General Dynamics to design the aircraft. Boeing came with a unique design. As per their design they placed their cockpit high above the ground and a front cargo door. This was the birth of the iconic hump of 747. But this contract was given to Lockheed for their design(C-17).

In the early 1960s, even before it lost the CX-HLS contract, Boeing was asked by Juan Trippe, president of Pan American World Airways (Pan Am), one of their most important airline customers, to build a passenger aircraft more than twice the size of the 707. During this time, airport congestion, worsened by increasing numbers of passengers carried on relatively small aircraft, became a problem that Trippe thought could be addressed by a larger new aircraft.

Juan Trippe

In 1965, Joe Sutter was called to work on this plane. He was very far sighted and decided to work on CX-HLS model. He thought supersonic travel would supress the 747. So he made an aircraft which can be used as a freighter as well as used commercially. This is why the 747 is very special

Joe Sutter

Juan Trippe was impressed by this design and placed an order for 25 Boeing 747-100 worth $525 Million.


747 was the most massive plane during 1970s. No other aircraft of such size was ever built.

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