In 1968, the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) fleet consisted of Boeing 707s and the British-built Vickers VC10. Although they were very capable aircraft, change was afoot. The dawning age of mass travel called for a different type of airliner and, following years of detailed study and preparation, BOAC decided that its future lay in the Boeing 747.
The airline placed an initial order for ten aircraft, with an option for four more. In keeping with many other carriers connected to the 747 project, it had set up residence in the Boeing plant at Everett in Washington state, using its own technical staff to oversee construction of the new equipment.
Such integration was vital to the planning and design process, as the size of the 747 demanded a rethink over matters such as seating and galley arrangements, meal service routines and crew complement – which had risen to 16 compared to the eight or nine in the VC10s and 707s.