• Short Summary

    Boeing's new 747SP (Special Performance) airliner today (July 4) completed the "most ambitious" flight-test program ever attempted on a Boeing jetliner first flight including a speed run of Mach .92, or 92 per cent of the speed of sound.

  • Description

    Flight crew at airplane (Waddell on right)

    Flight crew in cockpit

    Engine starts, 747SP taxies out past second "Junior Jumbo"

    747SP takes off

    In flight view with "chase plane"

    In flight views


    Post-flight conference. Waddell sync sound on.


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: Boeing's new 747SP (Special Performance) airliner today (July 4) completed the "most ambitious" flight-test program ever attempted on a Boeing jetliner first flight including a speed run of Mach .92, or 92 per cent of the speed of sound.

    The new red, white and blue airliner, 47 feet shorter than the 257 standard 747s already delivered to 41 airlines, lifted off the runway at Paine Field, adjacent to the 747 Division factory at Everett, Washington, at 11:17 a.m. and climbed smoothly into the clear blue sky.

    It was accompanied by a dominative Boeing-owned Canadair Sabre jet fighter "chase plane," which provided outside observation during the flight.

    Jack Waddell, Boeing Commercial Airplane Company chief test pilot, was in the captain's seat, with S.L. "Lew" Wallick, director of flight operations, serving as co-pilot. Chief Flight Engineer Kenneth R. Storms completed the crew. Waddell also was pilot of the original 747 on its initial flight in February 1969.

    The flight, which lasted three hours, four minutes, included preliminary evaluation of handling characteristics and airplane system. Other tests included airspeed calibration, determination of miles per pound of fuel burned, and tests of the new trailing-edge flap system which was problem-free in operation and which, according to Waddell, demonstrated good aerodynamics.

    In a post-flight report, Waddell said it was "by far the most ambitious first flight" of any new Boeing airplane.

    "We went from full stall to Mach .92, which is the complete normal speed range of the new airplane," Waddell said. A full stall on an initial flight is a rare event. Waddell said he did not believe any other airplane had been tested on its first flight to determine the freedom of the airplane's structure from any flutter tendencies, as in the speed runs up to Mach .92.

    The new airplane is designed to have the same flying characteristics, form the pilot's point of view, as standard 747s, to make possible flight crew inter-changeability. After the flight, Waddell said, "I believe we've succeeded 100 per cent."
    During its initial flight program, the "Junior Jumbo" flew over the Pacific northwest near the Canadian border, reaching a maximum altitude of 30,000 feet and obtaining a top speed of about 630 miles an hour before landing at Paine Field.

    Later in the day, it took off again and flew an additional 52-minute flight for further engineering tests, landing at Boeing Field, Seattle. The airplane was immediately placed in the care of the ground crew, which began preparations for its third flight, scheduled for July 9.

    The new airplane will be joined in the flight test program by the next two 747Ps to be completed. The second "Junior Jumbo has already been rolled out of the factory and was in Pan American World Airways markings on the flight line at the Boeing 747 Division when the first 747SP took to the air. It will fly in August. The third "Junior Jumbo" will fly in October. Flight testing leading to U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certification of the new airliner for commercial use is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

    The 747SP is designed to serve airline routes which require a "top of the line" wide-body airliner with passenger capacity about 100 less than the standard size 747s, but greater than that of the 707.

    It has already been ordered by four airlines: Pan Am (5), Iran Air (3), South African Airways (3), and Syrian Arab Airlines (2).

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