The following photo on the Boeing 747 Wikipedia article reads:

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Qatar Airways 747SR-81 landing at London Gatwick Airport in 1996.

How did the 747SR manage this flight [on a regular basis]? The only range information I can find for the SR (short range) is from ANA's fleet history, which puts it at 2,590 km. The -SR also had "a 20 percent reduction in fuel capacity."

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(gcmap.com) Range of the 747SR plotted from Doha and Cairo.

Out of the ~520 seats, how many seats were empty to make the trip, or were there stops on the way? I thought maybe a Doha-Cairo-London route, but that falls short as well.

This airplane was also seen as far as Bangkok. These probably are not rare trips, i.e., the destinations are likely to have been regularly served.


3 Answers 3


I was senior cabin crew at Qatar in 1995/96. Flew on the 747 for about 1 year. My first flight was DOH-BKK-MNL Xmas week 1995. 3 pilots, 14 cabin crew and 1 aircraft mechanic, which was the standard crew numbers. We had 57 passengers all the way to MNL as BKK was in a refuelling stop. If I recall there were 20 First Class seats upper deck and 508?+ seat all economy main deck. The configuration never changed from the ex-ANA seating plans. Gatwick was flown both ways via Cairo and was never full each sector. In the period I worked on the 744, Qatar was still a closed country. There were no tourists and our passengers were mainly workers to and from Doha. After BKK started as a drop off port we would have 1-5 transit pax via DOH. Our Bangkok route which was actually to Manila was a refuel stop only at Dhaka. Flight loads were minimal. First we would only ever have 5-10 max pax. Economy I recall ever having over 200 passengers. The 747sr was also used regularly to Khartoum. They were used also around the Gulf on various flights. The 747sp ex Air Mauritius replaced the 747sr for a few months in the DOH to MNL via BKK with Dhaka dropped. I flew the 747sr on a DOH-DXB-DHA-CMB-DOH route, 20+ hour duty.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Aviation. This is very useful information and great to have it direct from a source who was there. Unfortunately, "the flight was never full" really makes this more of a comment than an answer. If you could edit to provide a max passenger capacity (to the best of your recollection), that would improve the quality of the answer a lot and probably garner the additional up-vote to give you the rep necessary to comment on other people's posts. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Aug 29, 2020 at 11:56
  • $\begingroup$ I'm quite curious. Could you add more details (number of passengers, cargo load, fuel margins) to get a better idea of you mean by "never full" and how it impact the operational range? Does is also impact operational ceiling and thus helps in flying such a long route? Don't hesitate to edit the answer to add more details in it. $\endgroup$
    – Manu H
    Aug 29, 2020 at 12:54
  • $\begingroup$ It is an answer, never full. A lightly loaded plane. $\endgroup$
    – h22
    Aug 31, 2020 at 6:43

enter image description here

Non-stop (2,820 NM) is doable (minus a ~25-tonne limitation). The plane can make it with 396 passengers (compared to the 624 shown above).

ANA's figure of 1400 NM assumes a full payload of 624 passengers.

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(gcmap.com) Doha-Bangkok is almost the same distance at 2,857 NM.

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    $\begingroup$ Answering your own question is completley acceptable (nay, encouraged) so there's no need to make it community wiki. $\endgroup$ Apr 24, 2017 at 10:47

If it doesn't have the range on internal fuel, two possibilities remain:

Ferry tanks - auxiliary fuel tanks installed in the cargo compartments to give the aircraft the additional fuel to fly the route nonstop.

Or, most likely, additional stops along the route of flight for fuel. It could easily make Istanbul, thence multiple options for fuel in Europe prior to flying to London.

Now a 747SR has 20% less useable fuel over the 747-100, which, from a simple back of the envelope calculation, would offer a 20% reduction in range over -100. This gives an estimated maximum range of 3,696 miles. A straight line distance from Doha, Qatar to London, UK is 3,242 miles. Assuming favorable winds, it is reasonable to believe the airplane could make the flight nonstop with IFR reserves.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Rome looks more probable than Istanbul, given that it would not require any extra stops afterwards. $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Apr 24, 2017 at 9:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico The map in the question suggests that Doha-Roma wasn't possible without refuelling. (Rome is within the circle centred on Cairo but not the one for Doha.) $\endgroup$ Apr 24, 2017 at 10:46
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby hence why I said "afterwards". My understanding of Carlo's answer is that he was suggesting Istanbul after Cairo. If not he can correct me. $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Apr 24, 2017 at 11:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Federico Ah, OK. I assumed that Istanbul was being proposed as an alternative to Cairo. I agree that Doha-Cairo-Rome-London would be better than Doha-Cairo-Istanbul-Yetanotherstop-London. $\endgroup$ Apr 24, 2017 at 11:08
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby - true, Istanbul alone wouldn't work (if fully loaded that is). $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Apr 24, 2017 at 11:31

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