The Plane Chains crew is honored to welcome PH-BFK to our hangar. PH-BFK has the distinction of being our first heavy aircraft, and we couldn’t think of a better aircraft than the legendary 747 to take this honor.
With the final 747 rolling off the production line earlier this year, after 54 years of production, the Plane Chains team dedicates this product line to the 747. We aim to honor the legacy of this incredible jumbo jet, and to give the hundreds of thousands of engineers, technicians, maintainers, pilots, ground crew, flight attendants, passengers and plane spotters who helped make the 747 the icon it is today, a chance to own a piece of this magnificent aircraft.
Edition 9 is crafted from the skin of PH-BFK; a Boeing 747-400M that spent her entire career operating on behalf of Dutch Flag Carrier; KLM. These beautiful bright blue chains are some of the finest we’ve crafted to date.
The original Boeing 747 was developed throughout the 1960s as an answer to Pan Am's desire for a higher capacity, and longer ranged airliner than the existing 707. Legendary Boeing designer Joe Sutter was responsible for designing the new aircraft, and in 1966 on little more than a handshake, Pan Am ordered 25 of the ambitious new planes for a whopping $530,000,00 USD (1966). This deal between industry titans would transform the way people travel for decades to come.
Designing, engineering and producing the first jumbo jet was no easy feat. Engineering aside, Boeing didn’t even have a place to manufacture the first jumbo jets. Boeing quickly purchased 780 acres of land north of Seattle, and drafted plans for a new factory to accommodate the 747 production line. Construction of the new factory didn’t happen overnight, and Boeing had no time to waste. Production of the very first 747 took place parallel to the construction of the new factory. The dedicated team of 50,000 people affectionately known as the Incredibles who built the first 747 worked through rain and snow storms to make the 747 a reality. In May of 1967, 4 months after production of the aircraft began, the factory officially opened.
The other issue was the engines. There were no existing engines powerful or economical enough to power such a large aircraft. This is where Pratt and Whitney came in, they developed and supplied JT9D high-bypass turbofan engines for the 747-100.
On February 9, 1969 everything came together as the 747-100 took to the skies over Washington state for the very first time. Following the first flight, came an extensive testing program to certify the aircraft to carry passengers. During this time the aircraft experienced several problems, mostly involving the new engines.
On January 22, 1970 the 747 entered commercial service with Pan Am on their New York-London route ushering in a new age for jet travel.
Over the next two decades, the 747 was operated by dozens of airlines, connecting the world in unprecedented ways. During this time Boeing made improvements, and introduced new versions including the 747-200, -300 and -SP. In the late 1980s, Boeing introduced what would become the most popular variant of the 747; the -400. The -400 featured a longer upper deck, more efficient engines, and an all new two crew glass cockpit. Nearly 700 Boeing 747-400s were produced, in 3 different variants including Passenger, Freighter and Combis.
Our 747; PH-BFK named “City of Karachi” rolled off the production line at Everett in 1991 as a 747-400M Combi. The 747 Combis have a unique design feature not found on any modern airliners; a split fuselage that can accommodate passengers in the front half, and large cargo in the rear half. Such cargo is loaded through a large cargo door situated on the back half of the fuselage. The “combi” configuration offers airlines even more flexibility with the ability to operate routes which have lower passenger demand, and higher cargo demand. PH-BFK saw every corner of the globe operating reliably on behalf of KLM. In 2016, after 25 years of hard work, BFK was sadly retired from KLM as part of the airline's fleet renewal. Since 2016, she has been enjoying her well earned retirement in the California desert, where she’s been a source for parts to keep other 747s flying.
These Plane Chains are crafted from the aforementioned combi cargo door from PH-BFK. We are honored to have had the opportunity to upcycle such a truly iconic aircraft as the KLM 747. These beautiful blue chains are intended to honor the legacy of one of KLM’s most important aircraft. We hope that through these new Plane Chains, the legacy of BFK can live on for decades in the hands of the incredibly lucky pilots, flight attendants, maintenance, ground crew, passengers and planespotters who flew on, worked on and spotted this magnificent 747.
Head over to the Plane Chains shop, to claim your very own piece of Dutch Aviation History!