Boeing 747-400 Best-selling Variant

More Boeing 747-400s were built than any other variant and it was arguably the most successful. Joe Copalman explains why.

Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJI lifts off from Sydney Airport.

The initial success of the Boeing 747 had dipped by the early 1980s, competitors were offering aircraft that, while not quite matching the 747’s capacity, provided advantages in terms of reduced crew, improved flight controls, and, most importantly for operators, focused on healthy bottom lines with improved fuel efficiency.

Boeing attempted to renew interest as sales flagged by producing the 747-300, a variant offering increased passenger capacity by making the stretched upper deck standard, but little else in the way of improvements. A total of 81 were built, but the message from the airlines was clear – up-to-date technology and greater efficiency trumped sheer capacity.

In developing the latest 747-400, Boeing focused on upgrades in five key areas:

• Increasing range by 1,000nm/1,852km;

• Modernising the interior;

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