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Thursday, 23 December, 1999, 00:50 GMT
Boeing's workhorse

A Korean Air 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.

The Boeing 747-200 is one of the older planes in the stable.

It was first built to carry both passengers and freight, and entered commercial service in 1976.

Combi models

The 747-200 Combi model was designed to carry a combination of passengers and freight depending on the needs of the airline.

It would also carry different loads according to the season, with more passengers in the summer and more cargo in the winter.

The Convertible 747-200 was the first Boeing to be configured as a freighter and was designed to carry more than the earlier 747-100 model.

The 747-200 freighter has a hinged nose to allow cargo loading through the front of the aeroplane, with the option of a large side-cargo door.

A new craft, the 747-400, joined the 100, 200 and 300 models at the end of the 1980s.

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

Accidents

Boeing 747s have been involved in three 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.
  • In 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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