The jumbo era ended yesterday, 55 years after its maiden voyageWith the delivery of the last aircraft to the cargo company Atlas Air Boeing 747Number One 1574. A glorious era of democratization of flight: Until the 1960s, air transport was reserved for the wealthy and daring few. The new aircraft with a large capacity (up to 500 seats in some versions) allowed airlines to significantly reduce fares. and with Its gigantic dimensionsAs a ship in the sky (its take-off weight is over 400 tons), the 747 has taken many out of the fear of flying.
The product of an extraordinary age also from the point of view of production capacity. The idea for the jumbo was born in 1965 from talks between Boeing engineers and the heads of Pan American (then the main US airline on global routes, which went bankrupt in 1992). They wanted a plane bigger than a Boeing 707 And also able to be used for charging version. For this reason, an upper deck was created for the cockpit and a certain number of passengers: it was used to allow the opening of the nose of the aircraft suitable for the wide loading deck. Thus was born the hump that made the 747 so unmistakable, even making it a pop icon.
A major effort began: an aircraft of six million parts produced in many countries of the world, assembled in a factory built in record time in Everett, near Seattle: at that time, and perhaps still is, the largest building in the world. It took just 28 months to go from those talks to completion of the prototype aircraft: the first take-off in 1968, the baptism that surprised the world the following year at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget and the first commercial flight, New York-London, January 21, 1970. Boeing built the jumbo with some trepidation, also because it was developing a supersonic jet in parallel to compete with Concorde France And Great Britain. But flying at Mach 2 quickly proved commercially unviable while more than a hundred airlines from around the world, Alitalia included, I rushed to order the 747 that reigned for decades in the skies of the world. Their presence has been a status symbol for countries, airlines and also for airports, as smaller companies scramble to outfit themselves with hangars, towing vehicles, runways, ramps and waiting rooms suitable for the large dimensions of a four-wheel drive.
Twenty years ago, the beginning of the decline: With engines becoming more reliable, cheaper twin-engines were now possible Even in very long periods and in oceans, While many companies are beginning to favor the use of smaller aircraft in the adhesives industryDirect tenders for medium sized cities (eg Atlanta – Rome or New York – Venice) rather than focusing everything on the big hubs like London or Paris from which regional traffic is sorted. Thus, Boeing began to focus on twin-engine aircraft, from the 777 to the last Dreamliner 787while the European Airbus consortium, which entered the giant four-engine market late with the A 380, has already decided to boycott the production of the double-decker jumbo that will return to focus on small two-engine engines.
But the 747 won’t completely disappear from the sky. Three major airlines, Lufthansa German, Korean Air and China Airlines, continue to use the jumbo even for scheduled flights while the freight operators who have these aircraft in their fleets expect to continue using them profitably for decades to come. Then there is, of course, theAir Force OneThe White House Airplane: For many years to come, American presidents will continue to travel the world aboard this mastodon that has been one of the most prominent symbols of American power for the past 33 years. A little grown up, such an extraordinary product for you.
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