- Boeing 747SP
Boeing Commercial Airplanes
caption=Bahrain Royal Flight Boeing 747SP
status=Discontinued, limited service
primary user=Pan Am
United Airlines South African Airways Iran Air
variants with their own articles=The Boeing 747SP is a highly modified version of
Boeing's Boeing 747-100 offering 'special performance'. Known during development as the 'short body' 747SB, the shortened fuselage permitted longer range and increased speed.
Design and development
The idea for the 747SP came from a joint request between Pan Am and
Iran Airwho were looking for a high capacity airliner that capable of covering Pan Am's New York-Middle Eastern routes and Iran Air's planned Tehran-New York Route which, when launched at the time, was the longest nonstop commercial flight in the world. The plane was first was first offered to customers in 1974 and the first airframe was delivered in 1976. A shorter derivative of the 747-100, the SP was developed to target two market requirements. The first was a need to compete with the DC-10 and L-1011 while maintaining commonality with the 747, which in its standard form was too large for many routes. Boeing also lacked a mid-sized widebody to compete in the segment of the market that the DC-10 and L-1011 had created. The second market requirement was an aircraft suitable for the ultra-long-range routes emerging in the mid-1970s following the joint request. These routes needed not only longer range, but also higher cruising speeds. Boeing could not afford to develop an all-new design, instead opting to shorten the 747 and optimize it for speed and range, at the expense of capacity.
Apart from having a significantly shorter fuselage and one fewer cabin door per side, the 747SP differs from other 747 variants in having simplified flaps and a taller
vertical tailto counteract the decrease in yaw moment-arm from the shortened fuselage. The 747SP uses single-piece flaps on the trailing edges, rather than the smaller triple-slotted flaps of standard 747s. The SP was also the first—and until the introduction of the Boeing 777-200LR, the only—Boeing widebody with a wingspan greater than the length of the fuselage.
The SP could accommodate 230 passengers in a 3-class cabin or 331 in a (303 economy, 28 business) 2-class cabin, and a maximum of 440 passengers in one class. Originally designated 747SB for "short body", it later was nicknamed "Sutter's balloon" by employees after 747 chief engineer
Joe Sutter. [cite book | last=Sutter | first=Joe | title=747: Creating the world's first jumbo jet and other adventures from a life in aviation | pages=p. 218 | year=2006 | publisher=HarperCollins | id=ISBN 0-06-088241-7] Boeing later changed the production designation to 747SP for "special performance", reflecting the aircraft's longer range and faster cruise speed. Pan Am was the launch customer for the 747SP, taking the first delivery, Clipper Freedom, on March 5 1976, [cite book | last=Norris | first=Guy | title=Boeing 747: Design and Development Since 1969 | pages=p. 74 | year=1997 | publisher=Motorbooks International | id=ISBN 0-7603-0280-4] followed by Iran Air.
The 747SP was the longest-range airliner available until the 747-400 entered service in 1987. Despite its technical achievements, the SP never sold as well as Boeing hoped. Increased fuel prices in the mid 70s to early 80s, the SP's heavy wings, reduced capacity, and the increased ranges of forthcoming airliners were some of the many factors that contributed to its low sales. Only 45 were built and of those remaining, most are used by operators in the
Middle East. However, some of the engineering work on the 747SP was reused with the development of the 747-300 and 747-400. In the 747SP, the upper deck begins over the section of fuselage that contains the wingbox, not ahead of the wingbox as is the case with the 747-100 and 747-200. This same design was used in the 747-300 and 747-400 resulting in a stretched upper deck.
Production of the 747SP ran from 1976 to 1983. However an order for the Royal Flight of
Bahrainled Boeing to produce one last SP in 1987.
A special 747SP is the
SOFIAinfrared astronomical observatory, where the airframe was modified to carry a 2.5-meter-diameter infrared reflecting telescopeto high altitude, above most of the infrared-absorbing water vapor in the atmosphere. Originally delivered to Pan Am and titled "Clipper Lindbergh", NASAhas the name displayed in Pan Am script on the plane.
Narita International Airport)] Forty-five 747SP aircraft were built between 1974 and 1989. As of July, 2008, 16 are still flying, 16 have been scrapped, and 13 are in storage, awaiting salvage or on display in museums. [cite web | url=http://747sp.com/Prodlist.asp | title=Boeing 747SP Website - Productionlist | accessdate=2006-10-10 | work=747SP.com]
* VIP Government of
* VIP Government of
* VIP Government of
* VIP Government of
* VIP Government of
* SOFIA Astronomical Observatory (1)
Las Vegas Sands Group(2)
Iran Air(in passenger operation) (3)
Saudia(in passenger operation) (1)
Pratt & Whitney Flight Test(1)
Ernest Angley Ministries(1)
Fry's Electronics/ Ballet San Jose(1)
[ www.747sp.com ]
* Launch customer Pan Am took delivery of ten 747SP-21 aircraft between 1976 and 1979, operating them on trans-Pacific routes to Asia and Oceania as well as to the Middle East. The aircraft and routes were sold to
United Airlinesin 1986, and remained in operation until 1994.
Iran Airtook delivery of four 747SP-86 aircraft between 1976 and 1978. Prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution, the aircraft were used on the daily Tehran-New York flight, at the time the longest non-stop airline route in the world. Three of those four are still in service in 2007, and there are rumors that the fourth may be returned to service as well.
South African Airwaysoperated six 747SP-44 aircraft on flights from Johannesburg to London and other European destinations during the apartheidyears, when that airline's aircraft were not allowed to fly over African countries and had to fly around the Bulge of Africa. The extra range allowed the aircraft to cover the additional distance nonstop. The sole remaining South African Airways 747SP - the "Maluti" - was decommissioned on 30 September 2006 with a final flight to Rand Airport where it will remain on show as a static display/museum aircraft. (This final transport flight was the aircraft's first flight in three years.)
* TWA operated three 747SP-31 aircraft from 1979 to 1986. These aircraft were for long distance routes to the Middle East which never materialized. Two of these were purchased by
American Airlinesand used on London and Tokyo routes until 1992.
Qantasoperated two 747SP-38 aircraft from 1980 to 2004. These aircraft were used for flights between Australia and Wellington, due to Wellington's short runway but still able to meet passenger number requirements, [cite web|url=http://www.qantas.com.au/regions/dyn/au/publicaffairs/details?ArticleID=2002/mar02/2645|title=About Qantas - Newsroom Red, White And Q Farewell For Qantas Aircraft|date=2002-03-04|publisher=Qantas|accessdate=2008-06-04] as well as service from Sydney to Nagoya, stopping in Cairns, and transpacific service between Sydney and Los Angeles. They were equipped with Rolls-Royce engines, unlike most other 747SPs.
Branifftook delivery of 3 747SPs for their ultra-long haul routes in the Pacific. They were fitted with 300 seats in a luxurious cabin and an all-orange exterior. [http://www.braniffinternational.org/aircraft/747sp.htm] Of the three planes, as of August 2006, one has been scrapped and one is in VIP service with Yemengovernment. The third was formerly in VIP service with the Omangovernment, but was recently sold to the owners of Fry's Electronics, for use by the Ballet San Jose (California).
* The type was popular with airlines in
East Asia, as it was the only type which has the range to fly between East Asia and North Americanon-stop both ways until the 747-400 was introduced. Asian users included:
China Airlinesused the type on its non-stop routes from Taipeito San Franciscoand Los Angeles
** CAAC (now
Air China) used the type to open its first route to USA: Beijing- Seattle. Later, the type was also used for service to Vancouverand New Yorkfrom Beijing.
Korean Airoperated the type on routes from Seoulto various destinations in USA.
Aerolineas Argentinasoperated one 747SP (from Braniff) on flights to Miami, Los Angeles, Toronto, Zürich and Frankfurt.
There were 3 significant commercial around-the-world record-setting flights flown by 747SP, two operated by Pan Am and the other operated by
United Airlineswith the aircraft being 'loaned' to Friendship Foundation, in order to raise money for the foundation. Those flights are:
* "Liberty Bell Express"—Flown from New York/JFK
1 May- 3 May, 1976. 2 stopovers at Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhiand Tokyo- Haneda Airport.
* "Pan Am Flight 50—to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pan Am. Flown 28-30 October, 1977 from San Francisco/SFO, with a time duration of 54 hours, 7 minutes, 12 seconds. 3 stopovers at
London- Heathrow Airport, Cape Town International Airportand Auckland Airport. Flight 50 flew over both the North Pole and the South Pole.
* Friendship One—Flown 29-31 January 1988 from Seattle/SEA, to raise funds for Friendship Foundation. 2 stopovers at Athens Airport and
Taipei- Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, (formerly the Chiang Kai-shek International Airport). The record lasted less than a month, as it was beaten by a Gulfstream IV piloted in part by Gulfstream Aerospace CEO Al Paulson.
Incidents and accidents
February 19, 1985, China Airlines Flight 006, a 747SP-09 ("N4522V") with 274 passengers and crew onboard on a flight from Chiang Kai-shek Airport to Los Angeles International Airportsuffered an inflight failure on the no.4 engine. While the flight crew attempted to restore power the aircraft rolled to the right and started a steep descent from the cruising altitude of 41,000 feet, accelerating to 4.8 G and 5.1 G on two occasions. The captain managed to stabilize the aircraft at 9,500 feet and the aircraft diverted to San Francisco International Airportwhich was 550 km (343.8 mls) away. Two passengers were injured and the aircraft suffered major structural damage. [ [http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19850219-0&lang=en Aviation Safety Network report - 19 February 1985 accident] ]
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet
ref=Boeing Commercial Airplanes [cite web |url=http://www.boeing.com/commercial/airports/747.htm |title=747 Airplane Characteristics for Airport Planning |work=Boeing Commercial Airplanes |accessdate=2006-10-09 ] "and" Airliners.net [cite web |url=http://www.airliners.net/info/stats.main?id=98 |title=Boeing 747SP |work=Airliners.net |accessdate=2006-10-09 ]
crew=3 (2 pilots, flight engineer)
capacity=331 (28 first, 303 economy)
length main=184 ft 9 in
length alt=56.31 m
span main=195 ft 8 in
span alt=59.64 m
height main=65 ft 10 in
height alt=20.06 m
area main=5,500 ft²
area alt=511 m²
empty weight main=336,870 lb
empty weight alt=152,780 kg
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
useful load main=
useful load alt=
max takeoff weight main=670,000 lb
max takeoff weight alt=304,000 kg
Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7R4W
type of jet=
number of jets=4
thrust main=46,500 lbf
thrust alt=206.8 kN
max speed main=.92 Mach
max speed alt=591 knots, 1,095 km/h
max speed more=
cruise speed main=.88 Mach
cruise speed alt=535 knots, 990 km/h
cruise speed more=
range main=6,650 nm
range alt=7,650 mi, 12,325 km
range more=with 276 passengers
* Boeing 747-200
* Airbus A330-300
* Airbus A340-300/-500/-600
* Airbus A350-900/1000
List of airliners
List of Boeing 747 operators
* Jenkins, Dennis R. "Boeing 747-100/200/300/SP" (AirlinerTech Series, Vol. 6). Specialty Press, 2000. ISBN 1580070264.
* [http://www.boeing.com/commercial/747family/background.html Boeing official 747 family site]
* [http://www.747sp.com/ 747SP fan site - Production Lists & Photographs]
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