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Tuesday, 31 October, 2000, 22:48 GMT
Boeing's workhorse
A Singapore Airlines Boeing 747
A Singapore Airlines Boeing 747
American aircraft manufacturer Boeing launched its 747 programme, which revolutionised air travel, in 1966.

An order from Pan American World Airways set the ball rolling.

The 747 entered commercial service in 1970, and since then the worldwide fleet has flown more than 2.2 billion people.

Several different models were introduced in successive years - the 100, 200 and 300 versions - but the 747-400 model was introduced only at the end of the 1980s.

The redeveloped 747-400 is the best-selling member of the 747 family and is currently the only model in production.

Boeing says it is developing a new family of 747 derivatives for the 21st Century, which will go into production if customer demand and market requirements warrant it.

Singapore's fleet

Singapore Airlines is one of the world's largest operator of 747-400s, with 45 currently in operation.

The airline says that the 747-400 which crashed in Taipei was manufactured in January 1997.

It underwent its last maintenance check on 16 September 2000, when no defects were found, the airline says.

Accidents

Boeing 747s have been involved in four recent accidents.

  • On 23 September 1999, a Qantas Boeing 747, carrying 407 people on a flight from Sydney to London skidded off a runway during a tropical rainstorm at Bangkok Airport.
  • On 6 March 1999, an Air France Boeing 747-200 cargo plane exploded in a fireball after it crash-landed in southern India, but the crew members were rescued.
  • On 6 Aug 1997 a Korean Airlines Boeing 747 crashed over Guam, killing 228 of the people aboard.
  • On 12 Nov 1996, nearly 350 people were killed when two aircraft, one a Boeing 747, collided with a Kazakh cargo jet over India, in the worst incident in Indian aviation.
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