Boeing 747 UWB
In the late 1980s both Airbus and Boeing started to look into a very high-capacity airliner. In 1990 Airbus announced the Airbus A-380 which featured a full double passenger deck. The first A-380 flew in 2005 with the first aircraft delivered in October 2007.
Boeing considered several designs, most of them based on the 747-400 which was in service since 1989. At first Boeing went the same route as Airbus with a full double deck 747. However, in 1990 a switch was made to a wider bodied airliner. This became the 747 UWB (Ultra-Wide Body) which featured a 3 metre plug in in the middle of the fuselage. To cope with the extra weight a six engine lay-out was chosen. At first it was thought a longer wing was necessary, but wind tunnel tests showed that the wide fuselage provided its own lift and a longer wing was not needed.
The 747-900 UWB first flew in 2004 and provided space to 850 passengers in a normal configuration. The seating arrangement was 4+4+4+4 with three isles running up and down the fuselage. In an all-economy configuration, it could carry 1080 passengers.
The first delivery to the launch customer British Airways was in 2006 and in total 246 were produced before production was halted in 2020. The Covid epidemic and the resulting travel crises caused demand to dry up. Among the customers of the 747-900 were British Airways, Delta, Lufthansa, and China Southern Airways. Two 747-900s were sold to undisclosed private customers as VIP transports.
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