• Croatian Aviation

Boeing 747 - an aircraft that marked history

Almost every type of aircraft produced has marked a particular airline or even aviation in general, but given that it has been in use for the last 50 years, the Boeing 747 is certainly an aircraft that has changed the way we travel today. By the way, the B747 was the largest type of commercial aircraft in use for 30 years (until the introduction of the A380 aircraft).

Although the production of this aircraft almost bankrupted Boeing itself, history tells us that the whole concept of producing this type of aircraft was successful. In 1970., the first aircraft was handed over to Pan Am, and the aircraft continue to fly worldwide, in passenger and cargo versions, as VIP aircraft or official aircraft of the presidents (the most famous is certainly the Air Force One - the official aircraft of the US president).

The aircraft was and still is a favorite among flight and cabin crew, but also among passengers, so it quickly got the nickname "Queen of the skies".


There are several series, and the last one is - 800, and production of this type (B747-800) will officially stop soon. Why? Quite simply, the new materials and engines have brought to the two-engine aircrafts with smaller capacity that can connect two locations just like the B747, but with much lower operating costs. This is not only the case with the B747, the same happened with the production of the A380, Airbus announced last year that it would stop production of this aircraft type as well.


The four-engine 747 has a two-floors passenger cabin and upper cabin is mostly used for business class passengers. In the most common configuration with first, business and economy class, the aircraft can accommodate up to 400 passengers, and in one class configuration almost 600 passengers. The characteristic "hump" of the upper floor of the cabin made the 747 the most recognizable passenger aircraft today.


In technical terms, the B747-800 has a max speed of 988 km/h (533kn, 0.95 mach) and a range of 15,000 kilometers (8000 nmi), so in some configurations it can fly directly between New York and Hong Kong (more precisely, a third of the way around the Earth). The Australian national airline, Qantas, made a direct flight from London to Sydney in 1989. (a journey of 18,000 kilometers), but it was a part of aircraft delivery, which means that there were no passengers in the cabin and the cargo space was empty.


Various types of this aircraft came to Croatian airports, even the Boeing 747-800 version, which is also the largest type of aircraft that has ever land in Croatia.


The bankrupt Russian airline Transaero back in 2005. flew directly, twice a week, between Moscow and Pula with a B747-200 aircraft (capacity of 496 passengers). The airline also used this type of aircraft on the route to Dubrovnik.

On charters from Japan to Zagreb in 2010., Japan Airlines also used this type of aircraft. The plane in the photo had a capacity of 505 passengers. The same type of aircraft to Croatia was used by Air China and Air India.

Korean Air used various types of aircraft on its charter flights to Zagreb, but in 2014., the B747-400 also operated on a direct flight from Seoul to Zagreb.

Although Korean Air also has the latest type of this aircraft in its fleet, the -800 version, until December last year, before the outbreak of the pandemic, the company still used the -400 version on some routes, mostly from Seoul to the Maldives.


In the past, cargo versions of this type of aircraft came to Zagreb regularly (especially now during the pandemic), just like in Rijeka Airport, but the Israeli company El Al sent B747-400 on a regular direct route from Tel Aviv to Zagreb during the summer 2016. season.

In November 2018,, the largest passenger aircraft so far, a Boeing 747-800 from Doha, landed in Croatia, bringing members of the Qatari delegation to Zagreb.

The same type of aircraft was back in Croatia (in Zagreb and Dubrovnik) in April 2019., when the Chinese Prime Minister was in Croatia on the "16 + 1" summit. The plane first arrived in Zagreb, and then flew the next day on a route from Zagreb to Dubrovnik.

After the outbreak of the pandemic, airlines stopped using certain types of aircraft, primarily older ones, airlines focus is now on procuring new types that are more economical and allow them better revenue on (primarily long-haul) routes. That is the reason why many companies have excluded B747 aircraft from their fleet, and airlines which are using this aircraft type are announcing their retirement.


The latest versions of this aircraft (B747-800) will certainly be in use for some time, the biggest users of these aircraft type are Lufthansa, Korean Air and Air China, while other companies have this type of aircraft in the cargo version.


If you have not yet, the next time you travel to your destination, check which type of aircraft operates on the route, maybe it would be a B747, the travel experience in this type of aircraft is really special!

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