DALLAS — Today in Aviation, the much-upgraded passenger variant of the Boeing 747, the 747-200, took to the skies for the first time in 1970.
The Boeing 747-100 entered service with Pan American on January 22, 1970. From the outset, issues with the type’s performance led to demand for a much-upgraded version. This became the 747-200, which was developed alongside the prototype. It entered service with Lufthansa (LH) in February 1971.
The new variant offered increased payload and range. This was in part due to the upgraded engines. The 747-100 was equipped with Pratt & Whitney JT9D-3A engines. However, they lacked the performance required for true long-haul operations.
Pratt & Whitney went on to develop the JT9D-7 engine. Boeing also approached General Electric and Rolls Royce to develop their own powerplants and increase the Boeing 747’s marketing potential.
British Airways (BA) became the launch customer for the Rolls Royce RB211-powered Boeing 747-200, ordering four of the type in 1975. Photo: Tim Rees (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons.
Boeing produced four versions of the 747-200. The 747-200/200B was the passenger-only model, of which 225 were built. The -200F was the freighter variant, and 73 of these were built.
Boeing also offered a freighter/passenger ‘Combi’ version, known as the -200M. 78 were built. Finally, there was the -200C ‘Convertible’ which, as the name suggests, could be converted between passenger and freighter models. 13 were built.
In 1990, two Boeing 747-200Bs were modified to serve as Air Force One. They replaced the VC-137s (Boeing 707s) that had previously served as the US presidential plane for almost…