The Boeing 747SP is the baby of the family, being 14.75 metres shorter than the standard version of the aircraft. SP stands for Special Performance, as it was the ultra-long range version of the 747, with a range of 12,320 kilometres.

Powered by four Pratt & Whitney JT9D or Rolls-Royce RB211-524C2 turbofans, it first flew on 4 July 1975 and entered service with Pan American on 25 April 1976. Due to its long range, it set several distance records during its life.

Boeing 747SP Video

Following on from the video last week on the Fokker F28 Fellowship, this time we will have a look at the Boeing 747SP. Running for just under 15 minutes, this Boeing production looks at flight testing of the aircraft back in 1975.

Overlooking the strange humming sound throughout, the film gives a fascinating look at some of the things they had to do to certify the jet for service. There are some interesting comments from Jack Waddell, the Chief Test Pilot for the programme.

What is interesting in the video are seeing the stall testing, showing the pitch down at the point of the stall. Also, the minimum unstick tests are fascinating to watch. It looks like it is taking off so slowly!

Qantas originally ordered the Boeing 747SP for flights to Wellington in New Zealand as it had such a short runway. That didn’t last long – once Pan Am started non-stop flights from Los Angeles to Sydney, they were redeployed on the long route to compete. In actual fact, the Qantas version had more range due to the Rolls-Royce engines, so the occasional technical stop for fuel that affected Pan Am did not affect the Australian airline.

Overall Thoughts

There were just 45 of the Boeing 747SP produced, which makes it one of the rarest of the jumbo jets. Today, none remain in commercial service, though some still fly as Government transports.

Those wanting more information can check out this web site about the aircraft. It lists all the SPs produced, with some interesting articles worth reading.

Did you ever fly on a Boeing 747SP? What was it like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Eduard Marmet via Wikimedia Commons.