The Boeing 747 has had a fantastic run. Among the aircraft types that defined the aviation industry, the Queen of the Skies has certainly had a role in shaping how passengers (and cargo) move around the world. With the final 747 being delivered in 2023, we take a look at how the earliest jumbo jet, compares with the latest.

Passenger variant first, freighter variant last

January 1970 saw the Boeing 747-100 enter service with American carrier Pan Am. The aircraft was the first-ever widebody commercial jet and began its life carrying passengers, despite its upper-deck cockpit design to accommodate cargo through the nose. Interestingly, it wouldn’t be until 1972 that a dedicated 747 freighter would enter service. It was in April 1972 that the first 747 freighter, designated the 747-200F, began flying with German carrier Lufthansa.

Moving forward 53 years and it’s a 747 freighter that will be the last jumbo jet delivered to a customer. Indeed, the last passenger variant – the 747-8i – was delivered to Korean Air nearly six years ago, in May 2017. Soon, Atlas Air will take the final freighter.

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Lufthansa 747-200F

Comparing passenger variants

Putting the first and last passenger variants of the 747 side by side, here is how numbers would compare:



Exterior Length

70.7 meters (231.95 feet)

76.25 meters (250.16 feet)

Cabin Width

6.08 meters (19.95 feet)

6.1 meters (20.01 feet)


59.6 meters (195.54 feet)

68.4 meters (224.41 feet)

Maximum Seating




333,394 Kg (735,000 lbs)

447,696 Kg (986,991 lbs)


4,620 Nautical Miles (8,556 Kilometers)

8,000 Nautical Miles (14,816 Kilometers)

Take-off Distance

3,246 meters (10,649.48 feet)

3190 meters (10,465.75 feet)

Specifications and data come from

Comparing the figures from each type, we can see that the 747-8i is a slightly longer aircraft with a wider wingspan. Despite being a heavier aircraft, the newer jumbo jet has nearly twice the range of the original. With technological improvements, it’s no surprise that the 747-8i is simply a more efficient and more powerful aircraft.

Attempting to examine how seating configurations have differed over the decades, reliable and precise seating figures for the very first 747 are difficult to find. However, if we consider that business class was only introduced in the late 1970s, then we can assume that the first 747 had a single-class configuration, and that its maximum seating was the same as its actual configuration – which was 366 passengers. One source, however, notes that the very first 747 flight had 335 passengers onboard. Meanwhile, Korean Air’s 747-8i is configured to seat six passengers in first class, 48 in business, and 314 in economy class. While the 747-8i is certainly a longer aircraft, a portion of its increased capacity is thanks to a larger upper deck.

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Boeing 747-100 Pan Am

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Comparing freighter variants

Just as important in shaping how passengers travel around the world, the Boeing 747 has had a significant role in how goods are transported. The 747 freighter, with its lifting nose cone, has provided cargo operators with the ability to transport all sorts of large, oversize items. Putting the first and last freighter variants of the 747 side by side, here is how numbers compare:



Exterior Length

70.70 meters (232 feet)

76.25 meters (250.16 feet)

Cabin Width

5.90 meters (19 feet)

6.1 meters (20.01 feet)


64.40 meters (211 feet)

68.45 meters (224.59 feet)


396,900 Kg (875,000 lbs)

449,056 Kg (990,000 lbs)


7022 Nautical Miles (11,380 Kilometers)

8,000 Nautical Miles (14,816 Kilometers)

Take-off Distance

3200 meters – (10,498.56 feet)

3190 meters (10,465.75 feet)

Specifications seemed to vary between sources. In this comparison, 747-200F data was sourced from, while 747-8F data comes from CargoLux.

Again, it’s unsurprising how far the 747 freighter has come since its introduction in the 1970s. The latest 747 freighter variant, the -8F, is a longer and wider jet with a broader wingspan. The aircraft is also heavier but more powerful and capable of flying further. In terms of similarities, both freighter variants have nose and side cargo doors on the main deck, with side, aft, and bulk cargo doors for the aircraft belly.

Comparing power plants

A big differentiator between the first and last jumbo jets is the technology that propels these aircraft. The very first 747 was powered by four Pratt & Whitney JT9D turbofans. According to the National Air and Space Museum, these engines each had a thrust of 235,700 N (53,000 lb).

Meanwhile, the 747-8s are powered solely by the General Electric GEnx series of engines. These powerplants, according to, each have a thrust of 295.8 N (66,498 lbf). According to General Electric, these engines upon their entry into service, were the world’s “only jet engine with a front fan case and fan blades made of composites.” This feature provided for greater engine durability, weight reduction and lower operating costs.

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Boeing 747-8 engines

In it for the long haul…

Ultimately, it’s incredibly impressive how far the Boeing 747 has come since it first entered service. The jet has been a core part of many airlines and their flagship, long-haul services. While the final 747 has already rolled off the assembly line at Everett and will be delivered to Atlas Air quite soon, the type will remain in the skies for quite awhile.

The 747-8i remains in service with three carriers: Air China, Korean Air, and Lufthansa. Meanwhile, the 747-8F is used by about nine different operators. In addition to standard commercial carriers and freight operators, the 747-8’s longevity will also be aided by a number of VIP/government operators, including the United States (Air Force One), as well as the governments of Egypt, Brunei, Qatar and more. Simply looking at how long the US government has been operating the current Air Force One VC-25A (based on the 747-200), we can expect its replacement to be flying quite far into the future.

How many 747 variants have you been lucky enough to fly on over the years? Share your experiences by leaving a comment!

Sources:, SkyBrary,, CargoLux, Northwestern, FleugZeugInfo, National Air and Space Museum

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