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View Diary: From failure to massive cultural icon - the Boeing 747 (106 comments)

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  •  Upper deck (17+ / 0-)

    The standard joke amongst controllers was, "why the hump on the 747?" The answer—"it's so the captain can sit on his wallet."

    Shortly after our daughter was born in 1974, bride and I plus baby took a FAM trip out to Denver to visit friends we'd known in Jacksonville. The trip out was on a DC-10—bride and baby in back, of course.

    The return trip was on a 747 and I made the usual remark to the captain while getting acquainted that my bride was in back. That exchange sometimes netted a move up to first class for bride and an offer to sit in back with her (which I generally declined—I'm a pilot, I like my flight deck time). This time the captain—first ascertaining the upper deck was unoccupied—instructed the FA to find my wife and bring her upstairs.

    This time I accepted the invitation to sit in back and from just a little east of DEN until almost to DBQ, bride, baby, and I had that upper deck all to ourselves. She was nursing at the time so no privacy issues came up. I moved back to the flight deck when we started down.

    One other version of the 747 which is not mentioned is the SP. They are utterly adorable,

    By the way, one of my pet peeves is ignorant non-aviation types who want to make "jumbo" and "wide body" synonymous. They are not. There's only one "Jumbo Jet" and it's the 747. L1011s and DC-10s are not jumbo jets.

    LRod—UID 238035
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    by exatc on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 08:45:16 PM PDT

    •  The SP (4+ / 0-)

      For "Special Performance", is shorter but (if memory serves) has the same engines and fuel capacity, giving it a truly remarkable range.

      Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

      by Dogs are fuzzy on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 09:16:26 PM PDT

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      •  Should be "Sucky Performance." (5+ / 0-)

        Pan Am had several SPs. They used to fly them from JFK to NRT (New Tokyo Intl.) in the late '70s but with one difficulty. They could take either the passengers or their bags but not  both. The solution was to contract with my carrier to take their baggage on our 747-100s and 200s. This was before my time but was part of the Whale lore.

        The problem is aerodynamic. The whale became more efficient as the fuselage was lengthened. The extended upper deck improved range as well as speed. Long range cruise speed was in a band around mach .84 for most weights for the -100/200 but increased to .855-.865 in the -400 with an updated wing. I never flew the -300 but I understand it benefited from the extended upper deck but not quite as much as the -400.

        Conversely, the SP lost efficiency with the shortened fuselage. It used as much fuel as the bigger, heavier aircraft. The smaller fuselage with its lower interior space and the resulting lower maximum zero fuel weight cost payload capability. An airline spending the same amount of money for fuel to carry fewer passengers and cargo tonnage to raise revenue is a huge loser.

        The last SP I saw was one of the two Iran Air has/had. It departed in front of me from Narita about four or five years ago. I got a couple so-so photos as it rolled.

        Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

        by VTCC73 on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 09:42:07 PM PDT

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        •  True! It could have managed (weight-wise).. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest, exatc

          with three engines, but needed the fourth to make up for the extra drag!

          I'm told that there were a couple of SPs fitted out for Middle East potentates as 'business jets' at one time!

          'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

          by shortfinals on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 09:54:37 PM PDT

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        •  I've heard that Boeing tried to extend the "hump" (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shortfinals, exatc, RiveroftheWest, VTCC73

          even more, but they found out that it actually contributed lift as-is and that extending it too far killed that lift and hurt takeoff performance.

          I couldn't find verification with a cursory search, though.

          Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

          by Simplify on Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 12:29:27 AM PDT

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          •  Extension smooths cross sectional area (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest

            change along the length of the fuselage which reduces drag. Extending it further then it is on the -400 causes a sudden "bump" in the cross sectional area as the upper deck gets added to the wing's cross section and rapidly falls off as the wing area later drops off. I always think of the phenomena as any abrupt change in cross section providing an area of potentially disrupted/separated airflow which is a drag multiplier.

            I think it is an early, think lower mach number, manifestation of wave drag described by the area rule phenomenon that is caused by the extreme size of the aircraft. Area rule is usually thought of as applying to high trans sonic and supersonic speeds. A large aircraft like the 747 moves a lot of air out of the way as it moves. Movement accelerates the air to the point that parts of the aircraft experience supersonic air flow earlier than others. The bottom line is that wave drag likely has a larger effect earlier on the whale than on a smaller, more aerodynamically clean aircraft. That's my guess anyway.

            Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

            by VTCC73 on Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 10:46:01 AM PDT

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    •  Well said, that man! My view, entirely... (9+ / 0-)

      ...'There can be only one' !

      My ONLY ride on a 747SP was on an Iran Air example out of JFK to LHR (it was headed to IKA). The then-bride and I were headed back across the Pond (I had been to see the 4950th Test Wing at Wright-Patt) and she was pregnant at the time. It was during the DC-10 crisis, and the FAA had just issued its mandatory grounding order.

      Since we had been booked on a World Airways DC-10 - and roughly 30% of the transatlantic capacity had disappeared overnight - we were in a pretty pickle. EVERYBODY wanted to get home....I made a few calls, called in a favour, and got the LAST two seats out of JFK on the Iran Air bird.

      What a flight!!! Firstly, it was at the start of the Revolution in Iran. An announcement was made that 'This was an Islamic Revolutionary flight'...then 'There will only be Iranian National Food served' (OK, I don't mind lamb with saffron rice) and THEN....'There will be NO alcohol served'

      Behind us sat the Welsh Under 21 Golf Team, returning from a tournament in Columbus, Ohio. For the next ten seconds, all you heard was the sound of Duty Free Johnnie Walker cartons being ripped open.....I thought the Purser was going to have a fit! They threatened to turn the 'plane around, but could tell that the passengers (the majority anyway) were getting ugly.

      I SWEAR that is why the crew stuck the pipper on the max. Mach number and hit the top of every cumulus cloud, all the way across the Atlantic....

      I was really glad to make it off that aircraft at LHR...

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 09:22:52 PM PDT

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