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if you like the 747 ...

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if you like the 747 ...

Old 4th Feb 2016, 08:56
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SLF here and not even an aviation amateur - just a low-level curiosity about it. I quite enjoyed several of the clips, thanks.

My first flight ever was with Air France, Cape Town-Frankfurt-Paris, in 1994. Can't recall whether CT-Frankfurt was a 747 (would there be any way to find out, even?)

But the coffee then on Air France was still the best I had ever tasted on an airplane
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Old 4th Feb 2016, 09:00
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Having piloted the classic, -400 and -8 I'm glad it's ticked off my bucket list and while the 380 isn't aesthetically pleasing you can't beat aerodynamics, the MD-12 version looked almost identical IIRC & having recently flown my first trip on the 380, it was absolutely fantastic passenger wise and found it to be leaps ahead of the 747 and 777 or any twin for noise and comfort. It'll be boring if we're only left with twins.

Might just stick with freight as I know I'll miss the Queen once I'm left with a twin.
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Old 4th Feb 2016, 17:29
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Originally Posted by The Ancient Geek View Post
The SP was a strange beastie, not very many were sold. I believe there are still one or two still in service.
I had the pleasure of a free upgrade to upstairs on one of its shortest routes, back in the 70s it did Joburg to Durban on wednesdays only while the A300 was in the hanger for a weekly service.
The 747SP was always intended to be a 'niche' aircraft - basically trading payload for vastly increased range (not unlike the 777-200LR today). Boeing sold 45 747SPs which was probably about what was expected. Recall that the economics of aircraft development were much different in the 1970s - certification costs were much lower and no one expected big widebody aircraft to sell in large numbers so development costs were amortized over a smaller number.

It looks like there are ~15 747SP still 'active' - although I doubt any of those are in regular scheduled service. Several are being used for testing or research (FAA has one, NASA has SOFIA, and Pratt & Whitney has two for engine development flying test beds) and the rest appear to be VIP/biz jets (a casino in Las Vegas has a couple that they used to fly around their high rollers).
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Old 4th Feb 2016, 18:07
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Some years ago I wrote the following for a friend's website:-

I came relatively late to the Boeing 747, first flying it in 1981 long after all the early teething problems with the PW JT9D-3 engines had been solved. We had two versions of the aircraft, the 747-100 series with the more powerful PW JT9D-7 engines and the 747-200 with RR RB211-524 engines. The -200 version had the longer range but both variants were a delight to fly.

Previously the two jet types I had flown were the Vickers VC10 and the Boeing 707, both excellent in their way but not as magnificent as the 747. It was not just its size that made it so. In contrast to the various earlier types of jet transports, which all had some handling vices, the 747 had none. And, again, in contrast to the earlier types it had more system redundancy than any of them. The only handling vice that I could find (if it was a vice at all) was that the nose wheel could skate along the surface if one tried to turn when taxiing at too fast a speed when it was wet.

It was very stable to fly, was an excellent instrument flying platform, yet had sufficiently powerful enough controls to handle in a sprightly fashion like a much smaller aircraft. In fact when seated in the snug cockpit it was difficult to believe there was so much aircraft following along behind! I spent 14 years flying it on long haul routes, I was also privileged to be IRE/TRE and airworthiness test flight qualified. It was during CofA test flights that one really became able to appreciate its handling qualities. It stalled immaculately in all configurations, except when clean – when it wouldn’t stall at all! The minimum speed had been defined by the point when the slow and stately buffeting was considered unacceptable, and one would have had to be very ham-fisted to come anywhere near the stall speed.

Unlike the 707, it had no Mach tuck, even at M0.97. And unlike the VC10 it did not Dutch Roll. It was remarkably straight forward to fly, even with two engines failed on the same side, and several of us were qualified to carry out 3 engine ferry flights. These were interesting exercises in performance calculations, flight planning and handling when it was an outboard engine that was u/s. You had to apply full rudder and hold it through most of the take-off run, open up the inner symmetrical engines and then carefully apply power on the good outboard engine (commensurate with the airspeed), almost steering the aircraft with power.

But those kinds of things were towards the edge of the envelope, not normally encountered in normal route flying. But it was very comforting to know one had such large margins. Areas that required precision flying were the approach and landing – naturally; and also on departure during flap retraction when the margin between the minimum speed and the flap limiting speed for the configuration could be fairly small at high weights. I forget the exact figures but I seem to remember something like 7 kts.

Probably the failure that most concerned us was the possibility of an engine failure close to V1 at high weight, at a high altitude airfield. Clearly the numbers were well worked out but stopping an aircraft weighing over 350 tonnes from somewhere around 200 mph was not something to be undertaken lightly. Fortunately I never had to do it – other than on the simulator on routine competency checks.

A really wonderful aircraft to fly. And all the more remarkable when one remembers how long ago it was designed. Joe Sutter and his team got it absolutely right.
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Old 4th Feb 2016, 19:09
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I will miss her too from the perspective of a Licensed Engineer.A real aeroplane and built like no other.
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Old 4th Feb 2016, 20:00
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r75,

I agree!!
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Old 4th Feb 2016, 22:56
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Originally Posted by Landroger View Post
In short, the 747 is beautiful. The A380, in my opinion, is not. It is just big.



I think when the last BA passenger 747 retires, it will capture the publics imagination, not like the Concorde, but it will be a spectacle I think, I hope.

I can't see that for any other aircraft, certainly not the A380. It may be a huge technological achievement, but it has no personality or character.
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Old 5th Feb 2016, 02:51
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Landroger writes:
The 747 was a whole new concept. Everything about her was not only writ large, but pretty much different. Sure the 707 had four engines and swept, supercritical wings, but the way all that was hung together was so different. The materials, the engines (Oh Lord, the engines!), the shape and the cost were all unknown territory. Remember, Boeing almost 'bought the farm' with the 747.
I probably should have said this in my first post: The 74 was a HUGE departure from existing aircraft, both in size and in performance.

(Well, okay, not so much with the -100 and the poor Pratts that were asked to run so close to the edge in day to day operations that they didn't stand a chance of proving themselves...)

I guess I left it unsaid that the 74 was a groundbreaking, game-changing piece of kit. I hope I didn't create the wrong impression with my first post.

Fact is, there would be no A380 now if there hadn't been a 74 in the past.

Boeing *did* "bet the farm" and they succeeded.

A few airlines did the same thing, and for some of them the 74 proved to be too large for them.

The 74 did two diametrically opposed things to air travel at the same time: It brought ticket costs down in some cases and it greatly increased luxury in others.

There hasn't been an aircraft since, and most likely will never be in the future, capable of doing both.

(Let the arguments begin on this statement in 3, 2, 1... Popcorn ready!)

One of the best examples of what humans can build and use, once they set their minds to it.

Use as a water tanker to fight forest fires. Use as a transport for a very heavy, ungainly space shuttle. Use as a [potential] flying chemical-powered [email protected] antimissle platform. Expanded and hinged in unusual ways to transport 777 and 787 parts. Trillions of passenger miles. Billions of cargo miles. Volcano-choked engines which were able to be restarted. A near-supersonic dive that removed about 60% of the tail but still left the aircraft flyable.

The list goes on.

Cheers!
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Old 5th Feb 2016, 10:18
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Rottenray

The 74 did two diametrically opposed things to air travel at the same time: It brought ticket costs down in some cases and it greatly increased luxury in others.

There hasn't been an aircraft since, and most likely will never be in the future, capable of doing both.

(Let the arguments begin on this statement in 3, 2, 1... Popcorn ready!)

One of the best examples of what humans can build and use, once they set their minds to it.
There you go! Now I agree with every word Denver (not just the few above.) And these few from the very interesting post by Bergerie1

A really wonderful aircraft to fly. And all the more remarkable when one remembers how long ago it was designed. Joe Sutter and his team got it absolutely right.
It is a pity that what a lot of people remember about the early 747's is 'the terrible P&W engines'. Okay, they had their problems, but where would we all be if P&W had been unable to cure the flameouts and the concept of a very large, high bypass fan jet had been 'impossible'?

From an (non aviation) engineers point of view, the utter banality of the HBP Fan Jet is testament to brilliant engineering and real, functional beauty. Apparently there are professional pilots who fly (inevitably on such engines) all their careers and never experience an unscheduled shut down. Is that right? Because if so, that makes them even more remarkable. Watch the BBC2 'How to build a Jumbo Jet Engine' about the RR Trent 1000 and tell me those things are not beautiful.

I digress. It seems that from the comments above and my own, there is (and will be) strong sentiment about Mr. Sutter's big, beautiful feline.

Landroger
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Old 5th Feb 2016, 13:39
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My first 747 ride was DFW-ATL during the brief period DL was flying all three widebodies. Their long-range plan was the TriStar, but Lockheed were teetering on bankruptcy, so the DC-10 was a hedge bet. And the 747 was a pure experiment on heavy routes.

My last ride was a NZ -400 back across the pond. I don't think I could have endured that long a ride in any other aircraft.

Re the SP: the load factors in widebodies was so low that I heard the SP described as a 747 with all the empty seats removed!
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Old 5th Feb 2016, 22:23
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The -400 does have a quirk or two. Rare is the pilot who has not sent himself/herself to Pluto by banging the old noggin on the overhead panel. I know that I have had my bell rung once or twice by trying to stand up too soon.

The cockpit, when in either the right or left seat, is rather loud and so earplugs were a must for me.

That was about it though...a nice aircraft to fly and a dream to land. Just the slightest nudge (maybe more of just a thought of a nudge) to keep it coming down when it gets into ground effect and thereafter one is often not sure (other than the speedbrake lever being driven back) that one is on the ground.

My initial solo (many turns of the calendar ago) was in a Piper 140 and I swear that the -400 gave the same sensation on landing with the controls being that light. One would never know how much airplane is underneath nor behind. Not sure how they engineered that feeling in but they really did it right!

Last edited by Uncle Fred; 5th Feb 2016 at 22:48.
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Old 5th Feb 2016, 22:41
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The Incredibles re 747

Not sure how they engineered that feeling in but they really did it right!
" mainframe computers " with less capability then your Ipad- Fortran programming, slide rules, and a real team effort.

And at the same time, building a new factory ( the largest by volume in the world at that time ) from ground up, working in tunnels under the floor while the rest under construction- And in much less time than the 7 late 7 from concept- to first flight. Approx 4 years.
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Old 5th Feb 2016, 22:49
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Cool Love that 747, all of them.

I had the pleasure of flying the Queen. Logged better than 12,000 hours before be the door failed to open, as I passed the magic birthday. The only negatives I have are piss aunts. One it just can carry to much fuel! Who really wants to stay in the stratus fear for twelve to eighteen hours. The second and it is really minor. The flight deck was a bit loud, compared to the L-1011 and the DC-10/MD-11.


Thank you Mr. Boeing for a great ride.
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Old 6th Feb 2016, 02:25
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With 20000 command hours, 13000 of which were on the 747, who could fail to love that queen of the skies?

My only complaint was that as the years past and the eyesight dimmed the closeness of the overhead panel was a challenge for the bi-focals. But even that was fixed when graduated lenses became availability.

Got to love that aeroplane…
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Old 6th Feb 2016, 04:34
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Have been a Tower controller for over 25yrs and seen all sorts of types in all sorts of weathers, configurations and colours but there is only one that just looks ... "right". The 747-400 is elegance in motion and the new 747-800 is pretty close as well. Will be a sad day when they are gone.
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Old 6th Feb 2016, 05:13
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My wife and I have a special place in our life for the Boeing 747.

In Command of a 747-300 from Los Angeles to Tokyo, I finished my Welcome Aboard speech with a comment that if it is your birthday make the most of it, because we will shortly be crossing the Date Line and it will all be over. ( or words to that effect )

Later in the flight a member of the cabin crew appeared on the flight deck and handed me a Menu Card on which birthday greetings had been drawn on the back, and told me that a lady downstairs had made it known that it was indeed her birthday, and the card had been signed by all the crew, so would I also please sign it ?

No, I replied, not until I've seen her, bring her up.

We got married 6 months later.
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Old 6th Feb 2016, 07:00
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ExSp33db1rd,

WONDERFUL! That is by far the nicest post I have seen on PPRuNe.
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Old 6th Feb 2016, 08:26
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747

EXSP33 I have to second that best post "EVER"
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Old 6th Feb 2016, 08:27
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Great post Speedbird!! Hope you're still happy.
Me? 25,000 hours with 18,000 Command on the 747. A few system failures and one precautionary engine shut down towards the end of a flight into Kai Tak. One engine I inop IGS - complete non-event and the passengers didn't know anything about it.
Wonderful aircraft in all weathers and climates. Real privilege to sit in the LHS - not a job at all - I'd have paid them to do it (not really but you know what I mean).
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Old 6th Feb 2016, 09:19
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Real privilege to sit in the LHS - not a job at all - I'd have paid them to do it (not really but you know what I mean).
Totally agree. Best seat in the House. Recall landing at Philadelphia one day with considerable crosswind and conflicting wind readouts at touchdown, midfield and roll-out. An American Airlines B-727 ( I think ? ) was asked if he could expedite his taxy to gain take-off clearance before our landing. No, replied the A.A. pilot, I'm gonna sit here and watch this 747 land ! Barsteward !

The satisfaction of pushing the control column forward after the initial flare, and gently rolling the main wheel bogeys on to the tarmac is something that can't be bought ( and of course didn't happen everytime, tho' I never caused the oxygen masks to fall ! )

I enjoyed flying the freighter version, one could operate to the edges of the "envelope" ( never outside them of course ! ) and really appreciate the excellence of the design.

I recall hearing a Boeing rep. give evidence of at the Court of Inquiry of the Indian 747 that rolled into the sea off Bombay shortly after take-off. Wasn't our fault, he said, in front of each pilot are four guarded switches, enabling the pilot to ascertain the source of failure of navigation, attitude, INS information etc. etc. and so recover the situation by transferring to an alternate source (it was assumed that the Captains' attitude indicator - artificial horizon in simple terms- had failed ) Was he joking ? I recall the time taken to sort those problems out in the simulator, and that aircraft was only airborne for less than a minute, at night.

Still, it was a great ship.
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