The Boeing 747 is an iconic plane that can carry almost 500 passengers per flight, making it one of the largest aircraft in the world.
But, have you ever wondered how much this massive plane weighs?
Well, the weight of a Boeing 747 can vary from 380,000 lbs (172,000 kg or 90 tonnes) to 485,000 lbs (220,000 kg or 243 tonnes) depending on its variant.
Weight can also vary by whether the plane is empty, fueled and how many passengers and how much cargo are onboard.
The Weight of Boeing 747 Variants
The Boeing 747 is a popular wide-body long-range airliner with a spacious interior. Its popularity is largely due to its size. Larger planes are more economical as they carry more passengers, decreasing the cost per passenger for an airline.
As of December 2021, over 1,500 Boeing 747 planes have been delivered to airlines across the globe. These 1,500 planes can be divided into 6 major variants and many minor ones. We will use the closest approximations of each aircraft’s weights.
The major variants and their capacities are:
Boeing 747 -100
The 747-100 was the first variant. When empty, it weighs approximately 171,000 kg or 377,000 lbs or 189 tonnes.
Once it’s fully fueled, it weighs 240,000 kg or 530,000 lbs or 265 tonnes.
After passengers and their cargo have boarded the plane, its maximum weight is 330,000 kg or 738,000 lbs or 265 tonnes.
The plane cannot safely fly if its weight gets any heavier than this.
Boeing 747 -SP
The Boeing 757-SP variant was developed in direct response to requests from Iran Air and Pan Air for planes that could fly non-stop over long distances from the United States to destinations in the Middle East.
When empty, this plane weighs 220,000 kg or 485,000 lbs or 243 tonnes. After being fueled, it weighs 220,000 kg or 485,000 pounds or 243 tonnes.
After passengers and their cargo have boarded, the maximum weight this plane can safely fly with is 316,000 kg or 686,000 pounds or 348 tonnes.
Boeing 747 -200
The 747-200 was an improved version of the 747-100, and it contains improved features including a larger fuel capacity, better engines and a longer flight range.
This variant weighs 172,000 kg or 380,000 lbs or 190 tonnes when empty. Once fueled, it weighs 270,000 kg or 596,000lbs or 298 tonnes.
After passengers and their cargo are on board, the 747-200 can fly with a maximum weight of 360,000 kg or 794,000lbs or 397 tonnes.
Boeing 747 -300
The 747-300 is an improved version of the previous 747-200.
The improvements include a larger upper deck, a more spacious interior and a straight staircase.
This variant weighs 174,000 kg or 383,000 lbs or 192 tonnes when it’s empty. After fueling, the plane weighs 275,000 kg or 606,000 lbs or 303 tonnes.
After passengers and cargo have been included, its maximum weight capacity is 352,000 kg or 606,000lbs or 303 tonnes.
Boeing 747 -400
The 747-400 improved upon the 747-300’s design by introducing a newer cockpit that requires fewer crew members, incorporating new navigational instruments, and more fuel-efficient engines.
When empty, this plane weighs 181,000 kg or 400,000 lbs or 200 tonnes.
After fueling, it has a weight of 295,000 kg or 650,000 lbs or 325 tonnes.
After boarding, the plane has a maximum allowed weight of 397,000 kg or 876,000 lbs or 438 tonnes.
Boeing 747 -8
The 747-8 is the latest Boeing 747 variant, and it’s designed to be more economical to operate, more environmentally friendly and to be quieter.
When empty, this plane weighs 212,000 kg or 468,000 lbs or 234 tonnes.
After fueling, it has a weight of 325,000 kg or 717,000 lbs or 359 tonnes.
After passengers and their cargo are included, the maximum weight the 747-8 variant can fly with is 440,000 kg or 970,000lbs or 485 tonnes.
What Affects the Weight of a Boeing 747?
There are two main factors that affect a Boeing 747’s weight plane during take-off:
- The weight of the passengers and their cargo
- The weight of the fuel
Airlines average the weights for both factors to maximize profits.
They calculate average passenger and luggage weight with booking data.
Airlines will distribute the weight of the passengers and their luggage evenly to balance the plane’s center of gravity.
The Weight of Boeing 747 vs Other Popular Airliners
For fairness, we’ll only compare the Boeing 747’s weight with other long-range, widebody aircraft.
We’ll also only use the Boeing 787-8 variant’s maximum weight, 440,000 kg or 9700000 pounds or 485 tons, during take-off for comparison since it’s the latest variant.
The Boeing 777 has a lighter body, 2 engines compared to the 747’s, and the 777 has a shorter range.
As such, the 777 has a much lower maximum weight of only 352,000 kg or 770,000 lbs or 388 tonnes, which is 25% less than the Boeing 747’s maximum allowed weight.
The Airbus A380 is a direct competitor of the Boeing 747, and the former outranges the latter significantly.
The A380 also has a total allowed weight during take-off of 560,000 kg or 120,000 lbs or 617 tonnes, which is 27% greater than the Boeing 747’s total weight capacity.
The Il-96 is the Russian equivalent of the Boeing 747. It’s also a large wide-body airplane that comes in two variants.
The major variant, the IL-96 400M, is lighter than the 747-8, and it has a smaller maximum weight.
The IL-96 400M has a maximum weight of 270,000 kg or 596,000lbs or 297 tonnes, which makes it almost 39% lighter than the Boeing 747.
The Boeing 787 is also a long-range widebody airplane designed to make long-distance travel more efficient.
Although it was made by the same company, the 787 has a far lower weight than the Boeing 747.
The 787 has a total weight of 230,000 kg or 507,000 lbs or 253 tonnes, which is 48% lower than the 747’s maximum capacity.
In conclusion, the Boeing 747 is a heavy plane.
This aircraft’s total weight is determined by the weight of passengers, cargo and fuel onboard.
When compared with most other similar aircraft, the 747 has one of the heaviest maximum weight capacities during take off.