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Transportation Technology

US Airlines No Longer Operate the Boeing 747 (arstechnica.com) 156

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: On Wednesday, Delta Airlines flight 9771 flew from Atlanta to Pinal Airpark in Arizona. It wasn't a full flight -- just 48 people on board. But it was a milestone -- and not just for the two people who got married mid-flight -- for it marked the very last flight of a Boeing 747 being operated by a U.S. airline. Delta's last scheduled passenger service with the jumbo was actually late in December, at which point it conducted a farewell tour and then some charter flights. But as of today, after 51 long years in service, if you want to ride a 747 you'll need to be traveling abroad.Ars Technica recalls the history of the Boeing 747 in its report, mentioning that although no U.S. passenger carriers still operate the big bird, several hundred remain in service with other airlines around the world.
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US Airlines No Longer Operate the Boeing 747

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    UPS still operates the 747.

    • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @06:11PM (#55865233)

      The A380 is facing the same fate. [forbes.com]

      It may take another 5 years, but with the new planes like the 787 and the other Airbus planes, the need for huge aircraft is going by the wayside.

      • by known_coward_69 ( 4151743 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @06:17PM (#55865277)

        Not even the 787. Soon the 727 or 737 along with the baby airbus planes will have long range engines capable of long distance flight. Used to be you needed a 747 to go from NYC to Rome or London. Now it's your average tiny plane with hourly or several flights a day which can be rescheduled if not enough tickets are sold.

        • by sycodon ( 149926 )

          True Dat.

          But hell if I'm going to sit in a 737 for that long

          Fuck that Shit.

          • I'd rather be on a 737, 757, or Mad Dog 80. At least I have a 1/3 to 2/5 chance of a window seat, not 2/9 or 1/5 with 8 or 10 across.

            Better yet, put me on a Dash-8 or Embraer where my chances go up to 1/2 or 2/3. I love looking out the window down at the world.

            • Most people prefer aisle seat. But there is nothing wrong in preferring window seat.

              Given the data collection ability of airplanes, they may be able to charge you a premium for your window seat while at the same time charging me premium for my adjacent aisle seat.

              They know what each of us want and they will make us pay.

              • by Strider- ( 39683 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @07:33PM (#55865665)

                Most people prefer aisle seat. But there is nothing wrong in preferring window seat.

                As someone who used to do 100,000+ miles a year, I could never figure this one out. Window seats are infinitely preferable to aisle seats... you don't have to get up when someone else in your row needs to use the loo, and you have a nice, convenient wall that you can lean against and fall asleep. My usual routine when boarding an aircraft was to get into my seat ASAP, buckle up, and sack out.

                • I canâ(TM)t sleep on airplanes, so aisle seat for me every flight.
                  • If I'm not going to be sleeping and am flying over land, at least I can look out the window, sightsee, and daydream, not be tied to a book or a tablet.
                    • Except at takeoff and landing, mostly you can see clouds through the window. And the reflected sunlight is so bright (white clouds, thinner atmosphere) that you're better off not looking at it for too long if you don't want to damage your eyes.
                    • Let me rephrase that -- I get panicky if I'm stuck in a damn tube without access to a window. I'll take the risk of damaging my eyes. Window seat for life, babeh!
                • As someone who currently does do only a bit less that many miles a year I greatly preference isle seats. In most plane configurations if you fly economy you end up with a more comfortable leg configuration, especially on smaller planes where the curvature of the fuselage doesn't eat into your leg room. Plus you can get up at any point without having to deal with the people next to you (kind of like the opposite of your benefit).

                • I prefer aisle seats, for several reasons:
                  • If I want to get up, I don't have to climb over someone (and getting up periodically and stretching your legs on a long flight is a good idea for avoiding DVT).
                  • Most of the time, I can stretch my legs out into the aisle.
                  • I can get up and go as soon as the fasten seatbelts sign goes off, usually getting near the front of the queue for immigration / customs.
                  • It's easier to flag down a flight attendant.
                  • The person between me and the sun gets to act as a radiation shie
                  • The person between me and the sun gets to act as a radiation shield (thanks!).

                    Either you'd run out of sensible reasons or you are incredibly paranoid even by slashdot standards.

                    • I don't know how much a difference it makes, but you do absorb a lot more radiation in a plane than on the ground, and I fly enough that I'd prefer to minimise this.
                    • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
                      Tinfoil won't cut it, but definitely consider a lead-lined hat.
                • by houghi ( 78078 )

                  On long flights I prefer window seats for the reason you said. On the short flights I prefer the aisle seat. Just a bit more place to stretch your legs. On longer seats you have more legroom than on short flights.
                  When you fly say 2 hours, I will not be able to sleep anyway. And standing up is more a nice change than that it is a hinder.

                  In fact just booked a flight for two people and booked aisle seats at the emergency exit. That increased the price form 30EUR to 40EUR. Bilbao-Brussels with Brussels Airlines

                • by mjwx ( 966435 )

                  Most people prefer aisle seat. But there is nothing wrong in preferring window seat.

                  As someone who used to do 100,000+ miles a year, I could never figure this one out. Window seats are infinitely preferable to aisle seats... .

                  This, my shoulders are 53 CM bone to bone (not including the fleshy bits). I prefer the window seat to the aisle seat because my shoulders do not fit in a 19" seat, let alone a 17" seat because they're 20"+ wide.

                  I depend on the window recess to sit remotely comfortably. Sitting on the aisle seat is just an invitation to have everything that goes past knock my shoulders and elbow. This is also why I cant stand flying on a 787 and would take any other aircraft type over it no matter how old... because the

              • by dfm3 ( 830843 )
                It all comes down to personal preference. Taller individuals may want an aisle seat for the legroom, I prefer a window because I have something to lean against and (try to) sleep, and I like to look out the window to see what's below. But if I'm traveling with my toddler I want an aisle and middle seat, so that we can get up with minimal disruption for needed potty breaks. Otherwise, I'm okay to stay put until my seatmates stand up, and I don't like the annoyance of being bumped, jostled, and prodded by pas
            • I do Hartford to Dublin fairly frequently on a 757. If it were another hour longer I'd choose to connect through NY/Boston to get on a bigger plane. 757s are not fun for more than 6-7 hours.

              • Anything not to get the center section. 757 is perfectly sized, and you have a 33% chance of a window seat. Fuck sitting where you can't see outside.
          • by thsths ( 31372 )

            This.

            I think the crammed all the seats of a 747 into a 737 now, with seat footprint about 30% smaller than 20 years ago. It sucks to fly now.

        • Not really, you aren't going to see small planes take over. There's simply too many people flying intercontinental for it to make sense. More smaller planes just means more congestion at airports. Not that too large like the A380 doesn't cause its own issues, but the 787 is a pretty good happy medium.

          The 747 is gone and the A380 will not last very long because a 4 engined aircraft is crazy stupid expensive to operate. The GP7000 is about $15M a pop, but the real issue is in maintenance. The more parts the m

        • by mjwx ( 966435 )

          Not even the 787. Soon the 727 or 737 along with the baby airbus planes will have long range engines capable of long distance flight. Used to be you needed a 747 to go from NYC to Rome or London. Now it's your average tiny plane with hourly or several flights a day which can be rescheduled if not enough tickets are sold.

          The problem that the Jumbo's have is that most of the flights they were previously used for (read trans-Atlantic and most trans-pacific routes) are now serviceable by twin-jets aircraft operating on ETOPS 240 and beyond. The second issue is that airlines have been shoving more and more seats into a smaller space. It used to take a 747 to move what they now pack into a 787. So the B747 has been dying a quiet death whilst the A380 has been relegated to long range hub to hub flights (I.E. LHR to SIN).

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        No longer being made is not even remotely anything like no longer being flown.

        Sunk cost of already produced aircraft is going to be recouped through decades of use.

      • This was Boeing's prediction from 25 years ago. There is just less travel between huge hubs, and there is a lot more point to point travel between smaller airports. The growth of asian and gulf airlines cut into labour costs so it was more economic to operate smaller aircraft.

        If most labour had continued to be from Europe and the US, bigger aircraft would have made more sense.

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @06:51PM (#55865485)
          Funny how unrelated things change everything.

          Computers changed the hub model. Before computers, linking 3 hops for hundreds of people was impossible. So if you flew everyone into a hub at 11 a.m., then out of the hub at 1 p.m., you had a 2 hour window, and could get anyone from anywhere to everywhere.

          With early computers, you could have more flights, and more complex connections. Today, with more powerful computers, you optimize passengers, not routes, and we learn that mesh routes are best, and the demand/sales is analyzed to predict where to put planes to minimize costs for a passenger (remember, a old hub style required two flight, unless you lived in, or were flying to, a hub). Also, as you fly mesh routes, you cut travel time, which increases demand.

          Hub makes sense for flying from US to Europe, where you fly JFK to Heathrow, But within a market, hubs are dying.
          • Yeah, plus the fact that aircraft are more reliable now so you know in advance when they will need maintenance, You don't need a big base with both maintenance and passenger facilities. You can fly your aircraft to a remote repair shop, and get them back at a known time. Having onboard service life monitoring helps with that a lot.

            And a lot less stuff is done in house. Small organisations can handle logistics, food, fuel. Having more contractors would have been difficult in the past, more to manage but offl

            • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @08:23PM (#55865911)
              True. AA had a massive base at DFW, and if a plane needed work, they'd waive all the safety issues to get it to Dallas, then fix it. All the groundcrew worked for AA. Probably the idea of groundcrew being per airport rather than per airline probably came from that. Non-AA airlines would contract with AA for groundcrew. Rather than paying a competitor, pay an independent contractor.

              The big ones still schedule scheduled work for specific spots, but will be more flexible if necessary. Often working with the maker to send out mechanics to the airplane.

              Outsourcing and computers changed the routes more than the airplanes themselves.
          • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

            Funny how unrelated things change everything.

            Computers changed the hub model. Before computers, linking 3 hops for hundreds of people was impossible. So if you flew everyone into a hub at 11 a.m., then out of the hub at 1 p.m., you had a 2 hour window, and could get anyone from anywhere to everywhere.

            With early computers, you could have more flights, and more complex connections. Today, with more powerful computers, you optimize passengers, not routes, and we learn that mesh routes are best, and the demand/sales is analyzed to predict where to put planes to minimize costs for a passenger (remember, a old hub style required two flight, unless you lived in, or were flying to, a hub). Also, as you fly mesh routes, you cut travel time, which increases demand.

            Hub makes sense for flying from US to Europe, where you fly JFK to Heathrow, But within a market, hubs are dying.

            I kind of liked the hub model in 1990. Seats were more spacious and the flight crew were pleasant and not overworked. They even gave free food on the airplanes and transported my luggage for free.

            Are you saying that computers and the mesh routing have taken that all away from me?

        • Except there isn't less traffic between hubs today, and most 787s thus far delivered are on those hub routes rather than point to point...

          • Let me rephrase that. Growth in traffic between hubs has not increased as much as Airbus would prefer.

          • by slew ( 2918 )

            Except there isn't less traffic between hubs today, and most 787s thus far delivered are on those hub routes rather than point to point...

            I'm not so sure that's true. About 1/2 of the 787s appear to be on hub-secondary city vs hub-to-hub routes. The 787s are filling in the routes that don't work economically with a 777...

            http://www.airportspotting.com... [airportspotting.com]

            For example, you can now fly from San Jose to Heathrow, Beijing, and Narita on a 787. And from San Francisco, you can fly to Amsterdam, Narita, Osaka, Chengu, Shanghai, Tel Aviv, Zurich (and of course some hubs like Heathrow, Paris, Seoul, Melborne, Singapore). Many of these routes did not

        • by Strider- ( 39683 )

          This was Boeing's prediction from 25 years ago. There is just less travel between huge hubs, and there is a lot more point to point travel between smaller airports. The growth of asian and gulf airlines cut into labour costs so it was more economic to operate smaller aircraft.

          One of the half-jokes in the aviation world is that the A380 is the single greatest marketing coup on the part of Boeing. Many years ago, both Boeing and Airbus were proposing the concept of these super-jumbos, how they would reduce cost per passenger mile, and so forth. The two builders wound up in a marketing race... but the difference is that Boeing never booked an order, so they never actually had to build the thing. Airbus did.

          • I've flown business class on long trans-pacific flights both on the 787 and A380. The A380 was a much nicer ride. It's roomy, quieter and smoother, with a better seat.

      • Not really - no US airline has ever operated an A380, and the Forbes article talks about Airbus closing the production line.

        However, that closing isn't going to happen before 2025, as Airbus still have enough of a backlog to keep the line open that long with the planned reductions in rates. And that's without the much talked about Emirates follow on order, for which to not happen would require a miracle right now.

        The 747 production line won't see the 2020s, its dead in the water right now.

        • by Strider- ( 39683 )

          The 747 production line won't see the 2020s, its dead in the water right now.

          I've flown on one of the Lufthansa 747-800is, and it is a glorious bird. (Of course, it helped that I splurged and spent 90,000 points on a first class seat). Even business class and economy was really nice on them, much more spacious than other aircraft I've been on. It's really too bad the economics of these don't work any more.

          • The 747 production line won't see the 2020s, its dead in the water right now.

            I've flown on one of the Lufthansa 747-800is, and it is a glorious bird. (Of course, it helped that I splurged and spent 90,000 points on a first class seat). Even business class and economy was really nice on them, much more spacious than other aircraft I've been on. It's really too bad the economics of these don't work any more.

            Earlier in 2017, I took my family to Europe upstairs in business class on a United 747, because it was the last week that 747 was going to be in service and probably the last chance my family would have to fly upstairs in a 747. I've been upstairs in a 747 a few times but the rest of my family never had.

            • The 747 production line won't see the 2020s, its dead in the water right now.

              I've flown on one of the Lufthansa 747-800is, and it is a glorious bird. (Of course, it helped that I splurged and spent 90,000 points on a first class seat). Even business class and economy was really nice on them, much more spacious than other aircraft I've been on. It's really too bad the economics of these don't work any more.

              Earlier in 2017, I took my family to Europe upstairs in business class on a United 747, because it was the last week that 747 was going to be in service and probably the last chance my family would have to fly upstairs in a 747. I've been upstairs in a 747 a few times but the rest of my family never had.

              It was nice up there. It felt like a private plane. So much room in the window seats.

            • And on 747 upstairs, your carryon space is beside you, not overhead or underfoot.

      • The 787 is such a horrible airplane. I hate, hate, hate being a passenger on one.

        When will the Chinese bring out their first long range airliner? They're beating is at absolutely everything else, so I bet they can make a better plane too.

        • I've only flown one a 787 once (United, Economy Plus), but it was far nicer than economy class on any other aircraft I've flown in, by any operator. The air pressure and oxygen content was noticeably higher, so I didn't get dry eyes or skin at the end, I got a few hours of deep, restful, sleep, and I even managed a few hours of productive work. The seat recline was more sensible, sliding forwards at the bottom so you increased the legroom of the person behind when you went forward. In-seat power worked w

  • Others in the world still fly the 747 in pax service, enjoy them while you can.

    • Which will be at least 15 years. There are new 747's put in use by some overseas carriers. The queen of the skies will be flying after many of us are no longer alive though the numbers will be dropping greatly.

    • I haven't seen one in Melbourne for years. If I hang out at the airport I might see five B777s for one A380.

      • I haven't seen one in Melbourne for years. If I hang out at the airport I might see five B777s for one A380.

        I was just at SFO a few weeks ago and saw at least six 747s in use for passenger service. All by Asian airlines.

      • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *
        I've seen British Airways 747s flying into Las Vegas fairly recently. Virgin Atlantic used to fly into here as well, though I'm not sure if that service is still running. I'm sure there are others, though those are the ones I've seen flying when I've been somewhere near the airport.
  • by apilosov ( 1810 ) <alex@pilosoft.com> on Thursday January 04, 2018 @06:10PM (#55865223) Homepage

    While no US airlines operate 747, you don't have to go abroad. Airlines such as Qantas operate within-US segments on 747. Example, QF11 (LAX-JFK)

    • Re:well, actually (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @06:23PM (#55865317)

      Except you can't legally book a ticket on just the LAX-JFK leg because of last-century outdated protectionist laws regulating who can fly where.

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        Doesn't that flight use codesharing with a U.S. carrier? That's usually how overseas carriers handle domestic flights, which would mean that you can probably book the flight, just not directly through Quantas.....

        • No, it wont work. It departs from international terminal and arrives at an international terminal. They can not comingle passengers needing immigration check with domestic passengers.
          • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

            Ah. Yeah, that wouldn't work. Never mind.

          • Why would a flight operating entirely within the US depart or arrive at an international terminal, increasing costs and wasting resources? Use whatever gate the aircraft will fit at. If you have to arrive at an international terminal because that's the only place your airplane will fit, you just route the passengers around the incoming immigration and customs steps. This is a known problem with a trivial solution. Avoid the international terminal costs for departure, since you don't need an international te
            • Because it's not terminating at both LAX and JFK, it's actually JFK to AUS (whatever the Melbourne code is) and does a Fuel and unload at LAX for the west coast destinations.

              • Because it's not terminating at both LAX and JFK, it's actually JFK to AUS (whatever the Melbourne code is)

                MEL. Thanks for correcting the direction information. It's not an LAX-JFK flight, it's QF12 from JFK to LAX. It does not depart from the JFK international terminal, it departs from terminal 7. It arrives at LAX terminal B, which is Bradley International.

                If it offloads pax for the west coast, then it is, indeed, carrying people domestically, starting at JFK and ending at LAX. Since you allegedly cannot mix domestic and international pax, they must all be domestic if any of them are.

                For the direct flights

          • by jrumney ( 197329 )
            Normally such flights will do the immigration check on arrival in San Francisco. They need to get the passengers off for refuelling anyway. They then tell the passengers to reboard the plane at a different gate (directly downstairs from the arrival gate at many airports that separate international from domestic by floor).
      • If you want to see a really stupid protectionist law, take a look at the Fly America Act. Anyone being paid by the US government must fly on a US flag carrier, unless it would add 3 stops or 6 hours to the trip. This means that you typically end up paying more, and often still fly on a plan operated by a non-US carrier due to code shares. Great use of taxpayers' money...
    • by pezpunk ( 205653 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @06:42PM (#55865441) Homepage

      you could also pack yourself up in a box and ship yourself via UPS -- they still use the 747 as well.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      While no US airlines operate 747, you don't have to go abroad. Airlines such as Qantas operate within-US segments on 747. Example, QF11 (LAX-JFK)

      QF are in the process of phasing out their 747's. Their current problem is that their 747's are specialised versions built specifically for QANTAS to do trans pacific routes from Australia. So they're still being paid off. All of the trans-pacific routes are serviced by QF A380's now but they still need something for the old 747's to do.

  • so what is being flown as the common replacement to this industry stalwart?

    • A fleet of computer controlled Cesnas.
    • smaller planes are able to fly longer ranges. in the 90's I couldn't fly Atlanta to Seattle without a stop over. Now a 727 can fly coast to coast

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Cattle cars.

      When I was a kid 40 years ago, a 747 still would have a lounge and cool things for a kid to explore. New planes have nothing but crammed in seating. You’re lucky to get a hot meal now.

      I remember the old Tristars too, and the galley that served you a hot breakfast or lunch on every flight.

    • B777 right now. B787 if the engine problems can be resolved. Right now a lot of 787s aren't flying due to engine maintenance issues.

    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @06:30PM (#55865355)

      Literally, nothing. It's not that the aircraft is outdated. It's that it's very concept of large, heavy, four engine aircraft is outdated in civilian use.

      Large four engined aircraft are significantly more expensive to operate compared to two-engined variants, while having much higher requirements of the airfield, making their potential flight destination list much smaller. Their primary advantage actually had to do with certain regulatory framework, which requires aircraft flying over oceans to have certain amount of flight time on minus one engine (i.e. case of engine failure). Essentially they are required to be always in range of an acceptable airfield if one engine dies. Modern twin engined aircraft like A350 and 787 have incredibly high range on one engine, meaning they are cheaper to operate on the same route while being acceptably reliable for regulatory agencies.

      Add to this the fact that primary model of civilian aviation due to this change has largely shifted from hub model (large hub with large long range aircraft, from which small aircraft service nearby smaller airfields as connection flights) to point to point model (smaller twin engined aircraft are economical to operate directly to said small airfields, bypassing the hubs entirely) and you see why age of jumbo jets is slowly passing. It's not just that they are being replaced by other aircraft on the same routes. It's that route structure itself is changing.

      • Not for coast-to-coast travel (only about half-way), but my favorite airplane to fly on in recent years is the small Embraers, only three seats across the entire aircraft body. Everyone gets a window, or aisle, or both. Quick to board and deplane.

        • Coast-to-coast on an ERJ would be great -- easy to stick your feet into the aisle for more legroom when the flight attendant is not walking by.
        • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

          Here in Europe, a good example of this model is that you now have "secondary airport to secondary airport" travel that is widespread, instead of "drive/fly to the main hub, take off in a big aircraft, fly to another hub, fly/drive from said hub to your destination".

          Small aircraft like Embraer/Bombardier models work well for the "secondary to secondary" model, as they are small enough to only require a relatively small payload of people for economically viable service of the route. But they used to be occupi

      • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @11:59PM (#55866787)
        That's mostly correct. 2 engines are more efficient than 4 engines (for the same amount of total thrust). That's why the 777 beat the A340 into a bloody pulp in the market, and why the airlines demanded Airbus redesign the A350 when it was first proposed. Airbus tried to make it a 787 competitor, but the airlines really wanted a 777 competitor, so convinced Airbus to make the A350 larger (only the largest capacity 787 matches the smallest capacity A350). Likewise, 1 engine is more efficient than 2 (leaving me to wonder if in the future, airliners will operate on a single engine during cruise, with the second engine used only for takeoff and as a backup).

        However, back in the 1960s and 1970s when the 747 was introduced, there were some other factors favoring 4 engines.
        • This was pre-Arab oil embargo. Fuel didn't cost as much, so fuel efficiency wasn't as high a priority.
        • Engine design hadn't progressed to the point where you could generate enough thrust for such a large plane with just 2 engines. Heck, the DC-8 and 707 (introduced just a decade before the 747) were 4-engined planes despite having the passenger capacity of a modern 737 or A320. And the much smaller 727 was three engines. The big technological leap was the transition from a turbojet to a turbofan. A turbojet relies on throwing the exhaust gases backward at high velocity to generate thrust. A turbofan uses part of the exhaust gases to spin a ducted fan blade which pushes non-exhaust air backward to generate thrust. Basically the same thing as a turboprop (a propeller driven by a jet engine, instead of a piston engine), except the propeller is ducted. IIRC, nowadays close to 90% of the thrust comes from the bypass fans, only about 10% from the exhaust jet.
        • In older days, many airport facilities weren't as modernized. A plane which suffered an engine failure might not be able to have it repaired at the destination. It would have to fly with the failed engine back to an airport with a modern repair facility. You can't do that with a twin-engine plane without violating safety regulations, but you can with a 4-engine plane. Pilots of the DC-10 and L1011 (tri-jets) would frequently leave the #2 engine (located up in the tail) running at certain airports which didn't have the facilities to jump-start that engine if the built-in starter failed. Nowadays, most airports even in developing countries are modernized enough to maintain and repair most engines, at least well enough for the plane to fly to a better repair facility on two engines.
        • Older airport runways weren't as luxuriously long as at modern airports. In the event a plane has a reject (abort) a takeoff due to an engine failure, a twin engine plane only has 50% of its thrust available for reversing and slowing the plane down. A 4-engine plane has 75% of its thrust available for slowing down, so can safely take off on a shorter runway.
        • As you mention, ETOPS, or how far a twin-engine plane could safely fly with one failed engine, didn't exist back then. It was simply considered too dangerous to fly a twin-engine passenger plane out past its glide range over the sea.
        • Description nitpick: A turbofan doesn't use the exhaust gas to push non-exhaust air backwards, but rather the fan is connected via gearbox to the main shaft. It is actively driven by the turbine.

          But as you said, basically a turboprop with ducting.

        • The big technological leap was the transition from a turbojet to a turbofan. A turbojet relies on throwing the exhaust gases backward at high velocity to generate thrust. A turbofan uses part of the exhaust gases to spin a ducted fan blade which pushes non-exhaust air backward to generate thrust. Basically the same thing as a turboprop (a propeller driven by a jet engine, instead of a piston engine), except the propeller is ducted. IIRC, nowadays close to 90% of the thrust comes from the bypass fans, only about 10% from the exhaust jet

          I'm not a fluid dynamics engineer, but as you seem knowledgeable: could you or someone else explain me why using the exhaust to drive a ducted fan or propeller has an advantage over just using the exhaust as direct reaction mass? Newton's 3rd law and Thermodynamics's first law *seem* to indicate me one can break even at best.

      • by Alioth ( 221270 )

        There's also the issue of ETOPS. There was a time where legally a transoceanic airline flight required at least 3 engines. ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards ... or Engines Turn or Passengers Swim) does away with that restriction, and over time larger and larger ETOPS limits have been introduced.

  • Back in the late 90's I flew to Hong Kong several times with 747's out of MSP via Narita Japan. Two memorable trips: one was flying into the old Hong Kong Kaitek airport and leaving via the new Hong Kong on the first flight that Northwest Airlines (now Delta) had out of the new airport. The other was a non-stop of 16 hours from MSP to Hong Kong.

    • by nhtshot ( 198470 )

      I also have fond memories of riding a 47 into Hong Kong and Narita. I'll miss the ole' girl.

  • I put in a request to Patrick Smith [askthepilot.com] to write a blog entry on this. He hasn't commented on this that I have seen but anything you would want to know about it he will know.
  • The summary is incorrect. You can still fly on a 747 in the US, just not on a domestic airline. Just go to SFO and you'll see plenty of 747s parked at the international terminals. They just aren't flying for any US based carrier.

    • The summary is incorrect. You can still fly on a 747 in the US, just not on a domestic airline. Just go to SFO and you'll see plenty of 747s parked at the international terminals. They just aren't flying for any US based carrier.

      That's exactly what the summary said, you just didn't parse it properly. In order to ride in a 747, you need to travel abroad. As in, leave from the international terminal.

      • The summary is incorrect. You can still fly on a 747 in the US, just not on a domestic airline. Just go to SFO and you'll see plenty of 747s parked at the international terminals. They just aren't flying for any US based carrier.

        That's exactly what the summary said, you just didn't parse it properly. In order to ride in a 747, you need to travel abroad. As in, leave from the international terminal.

        Except that Quantas, for instance, has an LAX->JFK 747 flight.

        • by Strider- ( 39683 )

          The 747 production line won't see the 2020s, its dead in the water right now.

          Which you can't book due to rules related to Cabotage. I once got shit from Air Canada because I booked two tickets back-to-back, to fly HOU->YYZ->DCA (Hey, I was doing a mileage run, and it was cheaper than HOU->DCA due to sales). They sent me a nastygram citing the regulations prohibiting them from offering flights like that. It didn't matter that it was two separate tickets; or that it touched down in Toronto... They were a foreign airline, carrying a passenger between two US cities. I suppose I

  • Does Japan still fly coach-only 747s on short shuttle flights within the country? I flew one across the mountains Tokyo-Toyama in the 90s -- up and down like an elevator, all of 20 minutes' flight time.
  • by LVSlushdat ( 854194 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @10:16PM (#55866527)

    The one and only time I ever flew on a 747 was back in July 1971, from Dallas to Los Angeles. I was in the Army at the time and was going home for a long weekend. Airlines back then had "military standby" fares, and I recall paying $97 round trip for a ticket from Dallas to San Diego via LA and back. Since this was the 4th July weekend and it was a standby ticket, I did some serious standing-by, to the tune of 13 hours. I arrived at Dallas Love Field at about noon, bought my ticket, and proceeded to check Delta's schedule. To make a long story short, EVERY flight from Dallas to LA or Dallas direct to San Diego was packed to the gills, and since I was not the only standby passenger, I was on a waiting list. Along about 6 or 7pm, I began to seriously wonder if I was going to get out of Dallas this day. I went back to the Delta ticket counter and asked if there was anything else going towards LA today.. The agent said "we have one more flight at 1am, and I can guarantee you that you will get on it...". The obviously question to him was "How can you be so sure?", and his answer was the fact it was Delta's Atlanta-Dallas-LA "redeye" and it was one of their new 747 jumbos. So buoyed up by this, I went and got some dinner and went to the gate that it would be arriving at in about 6 hours, and proceeded to wait/nap/watch planes.. It arrived, I got on, along with a couple of other standby passengers, and had my mind blown.. It was indeed a 747, with 10 cabin crew and .... TWENTY PASSENGERS.. Today that flight would have been cancelled...

  • by dfm3 ( 830843 ) on Thursday January 04, 2018 @10:33PM (#55866569) Journal
    I was able to book a round trip to South Korea on one of Delta's 747's last month, on what ended up being the final overseas journey for that particular airplane. I didn't realize this until the flight crew informed us as we arrived back at Detroit, and as I confirmed later the plane then sat for a few more weeks before making the trip to the Pinal boneyard just before Christmas. What made the farewell especially sad was...

    - There was virtually no fanfare. The flight crew and a few of us passengers lingered several minutes for photos before we deplaned, but there was nothing to mark the occasion.
    - The aircraft was really showing its age. Little things throughout the passenger cabin like a nonworking lavatory (sealed off by duct tape), broken headphone jacks, flaky call buttons, heavily patched floor panels, and stuck windowshades were frequent reminders that our plane was nearing its end of service.
    - When we arrived back in Detriot, the entire remaining Delta 747 fleet (5 aircraft) was present at the airfield. Two of the planes would be in service for another week, but our pilot told me that three of them were waiting for the farewell tour or were being sent directly to Pinal.
    - The plane was packed out with flight enthusiasts who, like myself, jumped on the chance to travel in a 747 for what may likely be the last time. It wasn't difficult for us to find each other, and there were dozens of us.

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