He’s known as the ‘Father of the 747’ or the ‘Jumbo Jet’.

Joe Sutter, the chief engineer behind the design and build of Boeing’s iconic model 747, passed away on Tuesday, August 30, at the age of 95.


Joe Sutter poses in front of the Boeing 747 Prototype N7470 (Boeing Photo)

Joe joined the US Navy serving on the destroyer escort, Edward H Allen during World War Two. Joe also worked at the  Douglas Aircraft Co before joining Boeing, where he worked on the 707 and 737 and 747 programs.

It was Joe who invented the wide body airliner concept, allowing one aircraft to carry more passengers further than the then in production 707. Joe led the engineering team who delivered the project in 29 months from conception to rollout.

The 747 was launched to the world in 1966, built to carry 370 passengers. Pan American would be the launch customer with an order of 25. Known by many around the world as the ‘Queen of the Skies’, the 747 first flew in 1970, the 747 held the passenger capacity record for 37 years.

Boeing have now delivered over 1,500 747s to many operators and though the type is in its twilight of production in the current 747-8 form, it will be many years before the last of them applies the park break for the last time.

Aviation Spotters online presents our tribute to Joe and the Boeing 747.

VH-EBA QANTAS Pic (1 of 1)

VH-EBA QANTAS’s first 747B (747-238 QANTAS PHOTO via Historic Australian Aircraft)

The 747 first appeared in Australian skies in 1971, QANTAS ordered four of the 747B (later 200 series) thus making it the first customer for this version. It was also at this time that QANTAS became the worlds only all 747 operator. QANTAS eventually went on to order the COMBI version (which carried cargo and passengers on the main deck) the SP (Special Performance) 2 of which were ordered.


VH-EBX operated by QANTAS Boeing 747-338

Next in service was the 300 series the first 747 with the extended upper deck, six of these were to see service. 1989 the 747-400 entered service with the airline after an appearance at the Farnborough airshow the aircraft flew non-stop London to Sydney entering the record books as the longest flight by a civilian airliner at that time. Incedently this same aircraft is now preserved. VH-OJA is at the excellent Historic Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Facility in Albion Park NSW. That wasn’t the end to QANTAS and the Boeing 747 orders. In 2002 the 747-438ER version of which QANTAS was the only airline to order the passenger version entered service with the airline to further extend QANTAS’s reach into the USA.  A total of 65 different 747s not including leased aircraft have been operated by QANTAS over the years.

VH-OJA Cockpit HARS ASO (1 of 1)

ex QANTAS 747-438, VH-OJA Cockpit HARS

VH-OJA HARS ASO (1 of 1)

VH-OJA on display at HARS.

VH-OJT QANTAS Boeing 747-438 ASO (1 of 1)

VH-OJT operated by QANTAS Boeing 747-438 one of 11 still flying for the airline.

VH-OEJ QANTAS Boeing 747-438ER ASO 3 (1 of 1)

VH-OEJ operated by QANTAS in the Olympic paint scheme.

Of course QANTAS wasn’t the only operator of the 747 in Australian skies. Ansett Airlines in 1994 introduced the 747-312 into its operations with three aircraft being leased from Singapore Airlines. VH-INH, VH-INJ and VH-INK, operating Sydney to Hong Kong.


VH-INJ operated by Ansett Airlines in full Olympic livery Boeing 747-312.

In 1999 Ansett replaced its Boeing 747-312s with two Boeing 747-412, and it became a full member of the Star Alliance. VH-ANA and ANB. In the time the 747 and Ansett operated the airline became the official carrier for the Olympic Games held in Sydney in 2000. so several Olympic schemed aircraft flew. Sadly for Ansett employees, passengers and enthusiasts this all came to an end in 2001 when Ansett went into receivership with the two 747s returning to Singapore Airlines.


HZ- HM1C operated by Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747-SP


Atlas Air Boeing 747-400F as seen arriving into Darwin.

B-LIF Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747-467ERF ASO LR (1 of 1)

B-LIF operated by Cathay Pacific Cargo, Boeing 747-467ERF


VT-EVA operated by Air India Boeing 747-437.

9V-SFF Singapore Cargo Boeing 747-412F LR (1 of 1)

9V-SFF operated by Singapore Cargo Boeing 747-412F


JA8080 operated by Japan Air Lines Boeing 747-446.

B-LIB Cargo Pacific Cargo 747-467F ASO LR (1 of 1)

B-LIB operated by Cargo Pacific Cargo 747-467F

4X-ELE Israel Airlines Boeing 747-412 ASO (1 of 1)

4X-ELE operated by Israel Airlines Boeing 747-412


B-2443 operated by China Airlines Boeing 747-4J6

HS-TGY Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 ASO (1 of 1)

HS-TGY operated by Thai Airways Boeing 747-4D7

B-16482 Eva Air Cargo Boeing 747-400F ASO (1 of 1)

B-16482 operated by Eva Air Cargo Boeing 747-45EF


United Airlines Boeing 747-400 departing out of Darwin


HL7402 operated by Korean Airlines Boeing 747-4B5

B-18208 China Airline Boeing 747-400 ASO (1 of 1)

B-18208 operated by China Airlines Boeing 747-409

QF 747-400 ASO

VH-OEF operated by QANTAS Boeing 747-438ER in the OneWorld Alliance paint scheme.

TF-AAK Iron Maiden 747-428 ASO 7 LR (1 of 1)

TF-AAK Iron Maiden 747-428 departing Perth on the band’s world tour.


10011 Republic of Korean Air Force Boeing 747-4B5


JASDF 20-1102 operated in VIP configuration Boeing 747-47C

Atlas Air 747-400F ASO

N498MC operated by Atlas Air Boeing 747-47UF


Dreamlifter N747BC is one of two converted by Boeing to transport aircraft components to the main assembly halls from across the world. Boeing 747-400LCF.

Cargolux 748 LX-VCL (1 of 1)

LX-VCL operated by Cargolux Boeing 747-8R7F


VQ-BRJ AIr Bridge Cargo 747-8F ASO (1 of 1)

VQ-BRJ operated by AIr Bridge Cargo 747-8F

B-LJK Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747-8F ASO (1 of 1)

B-LJK operated by Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747-867F

CX-747-800 ASO

B-LJA operated by Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747-867F