Following its introduction in 1970, the 747 was a major success with airlines and travelers. As the world’s first large-bodied jetliner, the 747 revolutionized air travel and consolidated the manufacturer’s predominance in the passenger aircraft market.
Although the manufacturer has not changed the materials it uses, the B747 has become increasingly expensive for airlines.
The Boeing 747-400 represented a major development for Boeing and for the world aircraft industry. This aircraft is the best-selling Boeing 747 model of the jetliner family. While retaining the four-engine layout and wide fuselage of its predecessors, the 747-400 incorporates many technological and structural changes designed to produce a more efficient aircraft.
Depending on the configuration, it can carry up to 660 passengers, for the 747-400D, and a can fly nonstop for over 14,200 km (7,670 nautical miles) at maximum load, depending on the version.
The 747-400 is equipped with a two-person cockpit with an all-screen dashboard, eliminating the need for a flight engineer. It incorporates more efficient engines, a fuel tank in the horizontal tail and revised fairings at the junction between the wing and the fuselage. The aircraft also has an entirely new interior with improved in-flight entertainment. As with the 747-300, the passenger versions have an elongated upper deck as compared to the older models.
Its most distinctive characteristic compared to the previous 747s are the 1.8-meter (6 ft.) wings mounted on the 1.8-meter wing-tail extensions, which are found on all 747-400s except versions intended for the Japanese domestic market.
On February 9, 1989, Northwest Airlines was the first company to bring the 747-400 into commercial service. The 747-400 is available in passenger (model 400), cargo (400F), combi (400C), interior (400D), passenger with longer range (400ER) and cargo with extended range (400ERF) versions. The 747-400 is the second most recent version of the 747 family of aircraft; it was replaced by the more efficient and sophisticated 747-8. The latest 400 model was delivered in December 2009.