The Boeing 747 was expected to make air travel less expensive and ease crowding at airports when it was proposed in the mid-1960s. Behind the scenes, however, executives at Boeing and Pan American Airlines, whose founder was one of the proponents of the plane, believed the plane’s future would be hauling cargo and not passengers. History proved them partially wrong.
The plan behind the 747
Crowded gates at airports and rising costs of air travel were two of the reasons behind the decision by Boeing in the mid-1960s to design the biggest commercial jet of its day. When the Boeing 747 was introduced to the world for its first flight in 1970, it was twice as big as other passenger-carrying aircraft at the time.
Its design, which was well-suited for a cargo plane, reflected a widely-held belief that moving passengers internationally required aircraft capable of achieving supersonic speeds. The thinking at the time was that subsonic planes, such as the 747, would end up hauling freight.
Unique design along with its impressive size
The distinctive teardrop-shaped hump atop the 747 was designed for function rather than esthetics. By moving the flight deck from its normal position to atop the fuselage created space for a lounge area that passengers could reach via a circular staircase. Creation of the first flying lounge with a funky staircase was not, however the driving force behind the plane’s unique design.
The design of the Boeing 747 was all about cargo capacity and the ability of crews to load the aircraft. The position of the flight deck atop the fuselage makes it possible for loading of the aircraft from the front.
Life continues for the Boeing 747
The end of the Boeing 747 as a mainstay for carrying passengers internationally is not its last flight. Turns out executives who pushed to increase cargo capacity and ease of loading were right as the 747 continues making history carrying cargo.