Boeing 747SP


Country of Origin
United States of America
Long range high capacity widebody airliner
Boeing developed the 747SP in the mid 1970s as a longer range, shortened 747, trading passenger seating for extra range. The 747SP is the only 747 model to feature a changed fuselage length compared with the 747-100. The 747SP first flew on July 4 1975, certification was awarded on February 4 1976 and first delivery (to Pan American) was in March 1976. The 747SP's fuselage is shortened by 14.35m (47ft 1in) compared to other 747 models, while the vertical tail was increased in height to compensate for the reduced moment arm with the shorter fuselage. Structurally the 747SP was lightened in some areas because of the significant reduction in gross weights. Overall though the 747SP retained 90% commonality of components with the 747-100 and 200. While shortening the 747's fuselage increased the fuel fraction and thus range, it also meant that seating capacity was reduced. The SP suffix in 747SP stands for Special Performance, and points to the ultra long range abilities of this 747 variant that preceded the later 747-400 by 15 years. The 747SP's range is best illustrated by the spate of long range distance records it set in the mid 1970s. The most prominent of those was the delivery flight of a South African Airways SP, which over March 23/24 1976 flew nonstop with 50 passengers from Paine Field in Washington State to Cape Town, South Africa, a distance of 16,560km (8940nm). This world nonstop record for a commercial aircraft stood until 1989 when a Qantas 747-400 flew 17,945km (9688mn) nonstop from London to Sydney. Sales of the 747SP were modest despite the increased range, as the SP had poorer operating economics per seat compared to the 747-200. However the 747SP did pioneer a number of long range nonstop services that are now commonly flown by the 747-400. Notable SP customers included South African Airways (who found the SP's extended range a great asset in bypassing African nations that denied it landing rights while South Africa's apartheid policies were in place), Qantas and PanAm, the latter pioneering nonstop trans Pacific Los Angeles/Sydney services. In early 2005 less than twenty SPs remain in airline or corporate service.
Four 218.4kN (48,750lb) Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7AW turbofans, or 222.8kN (50,100lb) Rolls-Royce RB211-524Bs or 229.5kN (51,600lb) RB211-524Cs, or 206.8kN (46,500lb) General Electric CF6-45A2s or CF6-50E2-Fs.
Max speed 1000km/h (540kt). Range with 331 passengers and baggage 10,840km (5855nm), range with 276 passengers 12,325km (6650nm), ferry range with max fuel and 13,610kg (30,000lb) payload 15,400km (8315nm).
Operating empty 147,420kg (325,000lb), max takeoff 317,515kg (700,000lb).
Wing span 59.64m (195ft 8in), length 56.31m (184ft 9in), height 19.94m (65ft 5in). Wing area 511m2 (5500sq ft).
Flightcrew of three comprising two pilots and one flight engineer. Max high density single class seating for 440, typical two class seating for 28 first class and 288 economy class passengers
Just 45 747SPs were built, of which approximately 18 remain in service by early 2005.
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Boeing 747SP
The backbone of this section is from the The International Directory of Civil Aircraft by Gerard Frawley and used with permission. To get your own copy of the book click here.