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The giant airliner, known as a “Whale” because of its distinctive upper-section hump, is headed to Detroit on Saturday Decemeber 13, 2008. It’s expected to re-enter service to Asia the following week just in time for ustomers traveling during the holidays to see the new aircraft.

NWA was the launch customer for the 747-400. The aircraft carries 403 customers in a two-class configuration at 570 miles per hour. Its wing span exceeds the distance of the entire first flight flown by the Wright brothers, and its range is 8,300 miles.

The Whale requires 165 mph to take off and travels at 145 mph to land. It operates with four Pratt and Whitney engines - each pushing 46,500 pounds of thrust.

Ship 6305 is the first of 16 747-400s operated by Northwest Airlines, now a part of Delta, to be rolled out of a hangar in Victorville, CA in the new paint scheme.

Takeoff weight: 870,000 pounds
Capacity: 403 customers in a two-class configuration (65 lie-flat business class seats and 338 coach class seats)
Speed: 570 miles per hour
Range: 8,300 miles
Powered by four Pratt Whitney engines - each providing 46,500 pounds of thrust
Takeoff speed: 165 mph
Landing speed: 145 mph
Pilots sit 30 feet above the ground
Tail is 62 feet high
Its landing gear is comprised of 18 wheels
The wingspan exceeds the entire first flight flown by the Wright brothers

The Boeing 747-400 has been a centerpiece of the previous Northwest international fleet, along with the Airbus A330. Now that Northwest is a part of the Delta team, the 747-400 will be soon taking Delta customers to other destinations around the world.

For those with an interest in what goes on “behind the scenes,” you may be interested to know that since Delta’s merger with Northwest in October 2008, both airlines continue to operate under two separate FAA operating certificates. Teams at Delta and Northwest are working diligently to integrate the two airlines’ policies and procedures, leading up to a single operating certificate in about a year from now.

So in the meantime, even though our Boeing 747-400s – along with other aircraft from the previous Northwest fleet - will continue to be painted in Delta colors, they will continue to be flown by Northwest crews under Northwest operating procedures, as part of the Delta team.

For those plane enthusiasts who are interested in everything aviation, you’ll be able to tell what is operated under the Northwest certificate by a label affixed to the side of the plane that reads, “Operated by Northwest Airlines, Inc.” Air Traffic Controllers will also tell us apart when we’re taxiing around airports worldwide with our new FAA call sign that distinguishes Northwest planes “in Delta colors.”

So thanks for letting me share some airplane insight with you today. We hope to see you aboard the Boeing 747-400 – or any other Delta flight – in the very near future!

Thank you,

Steve G. Smith
Delta Fleet Captain
Boeing 747 Fleet


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Victorville ramp being prepared for flight to DTW on Decemeber 13, 2008
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Delta 747-400 Videos: Repainting of the 747-400
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