William H Lanteigne
Airplanes are designed around aerodynamic engineering principles and efficiency, not fashionable styling- if it worked 4 or 5 or more decades ago, it still works, and a clean, efficient design makes an aircraft very attractive, no matter how old.
Car companies, on the other hand, use annual styling changes, not efficiency or engineering principles, to enhance sales. If efficiency and cost-effective transportation motivated automobile sales, there would be far less styling changes, and far fewer consumers would buy SUVs and other light trucks.
I think the market for these type of planes will become much smaller in the coming decades due to train travel.
Back in 1994 statistically the most common way to cross the English channel was to fly. It took the channel tunnel train service literally months to become the most common way to cross the channel. Nowadays the Eurostar service tranports more people across the channel than every airline in the world combined.
It\'s not surprising really. No having to mess around with security checks or losing baggage. You get on and you get off. You also get a lot more room and a more pleasant experience overall at a fraction of the price of flying in a class that gives you comparable sitting room.
I lived in Asia for a while as well and spent a lot of time in South Korea, China and Japan. In those countries the only time people get on a plane is when they are travelling far away. Otherwise 99% of the journeys take place on train.
In 2 or 3 decades a lot of Eurasia will have high speed railway and when that happens I suspect most inter-European and inter-Asian and eventually inter-Eurasian travel will be on trains with people only opting for planes when travelling to continents not accessible by land. That is where the long haul planes with the space to transport a large amount of passengers will win out.
The truth is that at least in Asia and Europe train travel has been making strides and is only going to become more common. My personal feelings towards the matter are that I would always use train given the option and use planes only when necessary.
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The 747 has been one of the best aircraft ever build, stable and durable and it\'s 40 year history is a testament to that, upgrades are an always, better avionics and pilot control systems, but why would anyone at Boeing want to radically change an otherwise very good aircraft? and obviously they didn\'t, they just tweaked and peaked a very good platform to make it even better. Another 40 years success to Boeing
Look at the DC-3, 400 still in operation in 98\' another good aircraft, that\'s over 50 years since production stopped, amazing
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I\'m expecting that eventually the hump will be extended all the way to the rear of the aircraft. Seems like the logical way to increase capacity
Melvis NotElvis
A great plane gets better... the 747 truly revolutionized intercontinental travel. This newer plane\'s fuel efficiency should help hold prices, even with ballooning fuel prices...
Akemai Olivia
Duct fan above wing, scaly skin mimicking shark, more backward-pointing wings?
Well I expected more for better fuel efficiency in 2011, the new decade, just like how computer technologies have evolved.
@Bard - Trains? Seriously? Maybe in the rest of the world, but in the country that consumes 80% of the worlds resources, the United States, trains are less than a passing fancy! We have no trans continental trains in this country! NONE! And if you decide to take the Accella train between DC and NY, the train that boasts the fastest speed of any train in the USA, then you\'ll have a long trip because that train is only able to reach speeds of 90mph due to the track and the fact that it needs to stop every 20 minutes to take on and drop off passengers! No, trains will never become more than a romantic dream in the USA! Only as a commuter system, and a bad one at that! As for the 747, my dad worked for Pan-Am back in the day...the first airline to purchase the 747. I remember standing in a completly empty 747 as a child and remarking at how huge it is inside and how high off the ground we were even while standing still! I have memories of having the whole upper deck to ourselves on flights to europe and the conversion of the upper deck into a dining room with cloth tablecloths, real silverware and gold gilded plates...tons of foods and real waitresses, not stewardesses... Heck, they even had a piano up there!...a baby grand! Don\'t know how they got it in there, but those were the days!
Jeremy Bass waxes rhapsodic about the silhouette and its signature hump several times in the story, but that hump is almost gone. It\'s so much longer now that the fuselage looks rather tubular. I\'ve always rather liked the hump, not just on the 747, but on the bulbous cockpits of the F-15B/D/E as well.
Still, fairly disappointing that Boeing refuses to \"think different,\" as the old Apple slogan went. I\'d like to see a blended wing-body or at least some kind of joined wing, which is so much more efficient structurally and aerodynamically.
The Boeing 747 made intercontinental flights bearable, eliminating the intermittent stops and hence flight fatigue, etc. Intercontinental flights became enjoyable. These upgrades will enhance the icon and its ability to satisfy more users in the future. May it long grace our global skies!
Airlines generate profits. Passenger trains run on government subsidies. I\'ll fly.