A Special Performer

With the 747-100 and -200 established in airline service, Boeing looked for opportunities to develop the basic airframe and increase its sales appeal. The next derivative offered to airlines was the 747SP, the ‘hot-rod’ jumbo – the fastest, longest ranged and highest climbing derivative at the time. Joe Sutter was quick to seize the opportunity presented by Pan Am and Iran Air for an aircraft capable flying nonstop between New York and the Middle East and designed a 747 derivative with a shorter fuselage and a lighter airframe – and which could carry more fuel.

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