Priced about $149 million each, the aircraft will do the heavy and critical job of flying air cargo around the world. Though the passenger version of the 747 with its staircase and oh-so exclusive upper deck rightly won the aircraft the title of Queen of the Skies, it’s perfectly fitting that the pioneering airliner will end on a freighter note.
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Boeing developed the passenger version of the giant plane only after it lost a competition in 1965 to build a large military transport for the US Air Force. (Lockheed won that battle with its plan for the C5A Galaxy) Prodded by Pan Am, Boeing then redesigned its transport concept to carry people instead.
After it became a best seller with commercial airlines, the 747’s success as a freighter was due not only to its immense size (the 747-8 can fit 137.7 metric tons of freight), but also because its swing up nose allowed for easy cargo loading. Airbus tried to outdo Boeing with a cargo version of its even bigger A380, but it never found buyers.
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How United Airlines prepares a Boeing 777 between flights