How a 747 design change proposal spurred the ’60-foot rule’

United Airlines’ final charter flight to say goodbye to the airline’s fleet of 747 airccraft, was quite a party and you can see my story and photos on the event on the Runway Girl Network.

But during all the hoopla, a representative of the flight attendant’s union mentioned to me that debate over a change in the 747 design back in the mid-1980s spurred an important safety rule – the FAA’s 60-foot rule – that applies to just about all airplanes today.

The short version of the story is that in 1984 Boeing proposed taking out a set of exit doors on the 747 jumbo jet to make more room for seats. Flight attendants and pilots – and their unions – raised concerns over the ability to get everyone off the plane in an emergency without those doors and pushed back.

The Federal Aviation Administration ruled on the side of safety.

Read my full story on how this came about in my Runway Girl Network story here.

Photo courtesy Boeing Company

Snaps from Boeing’s farewell flight for the Boeing 747

Courtesy United

United Airlines officially said farewell to its Boeing 747 airplanes on Tuesday with a special charter flight from San Francisco to Honolulu.

I got to ride along and will be putting together a formal report for the Runway Girl Network, but in the meantime, here are some snaps from the gate-side party, the flight and the arrival in Honolulu.

Those out-of-time outfits you’ll see? Everyone was encouraged to dress in outfits from the 1970s, to evoke the time when the iconic humped plane was introduced.

Tom Stuker, who has flown 18 million miles on United wih United CEO Oscar Munoz, who scanned passenger tickets for the flight.


Mai Tai cocktails for everyone on the flight.


And for dessert – “Volcano” ice-cream sundaes, with dry-ice.


On arrival in Honolulu, the plane received a 120-foot-long lei –
made out of trash bags by United employees.

And another cake!