Many regard the 247 to be the first modern passenger airliner
. It was an all-metal, twin-piston engine
with, among other fascinating contraptions, an autopilot
and retractable landing gear
. At the time it was designed, giant biplane
s were still the norm in airline
use, so the 247 represented a great achievement in aeronautical engineering.
76 Boeing 247's were built, starting in 1933. Seventy of these found their way into the fleet of United Airlines, and some of those were transferred to Western Airlines: the rest went to Lufthansa, and a couple found their way to the Republic of China. In the United States, the 247 and Douglas DC-2 were largely replacements for old Ford Trimotors, and were capable of flying coast to coast eight hours faster than their predecessors. During World War II, United's 247's were converted into C-73 transport aircraft, and remained in the United States Air Force's inventory until the early 1960's.
The 247 carried ten passengers, five on each side of the aisle, as well as a flight attendant. The wing's main spar went right through the cabin, so passengers had to step over a large hump in the middle of the aisle.
There are currently four 247's left in the world: one of them, based at Paine Field in Snohomish County, Washington, has been restored to flyable condition. The National Air and Space Museum also has a 247 on display, as does Canada's National Museum of Science and Technology in Rockcliffe, and the Science Museum in Wroughton, England.
Wingspan: 74' (22 m)
Length: 51'7" (15,5 m)
Weight: 13,650 lb (6.205 kg)
Top speed: 200 mph (320 kph)
Cruising speed: 189 mph (305 kph)
Range: 745 mi (1.200 km)
Ceiling: 25,400' (7.620 m)
You can see some great pictures of vintage 247's at: http://www.angelfire.com/va2/aerodrome/b247/boe247.html