Aircraft First Commercial Service Speed (km/hr) Maximum Range at Full Payload (km) Seating Capacity
Douglas DC-3 1935 346 563 30
Douglas DC-7 1953 555 5,810 52
Boeing 707-100 1958 897 6,820 110
Boeing 727-100 1963 917 5,000 94
Boeing 747-100 1970 907 9,045 385
McDonnell Douglas DC-10 1971 908 7,415 260
Airbus A300 1974 847 3,420 269
Boeing 767-200 1982 954 5,855 216
Boeing 747-400 1989 939 13,444 416
Boeing 777-200ER 1995 1030 13,420 305
Airbus A340-500 2003 886 15,800 313
Airbus A380 2007 930 14,800 555
Boeing 787-8 2012 1040 15,700 250
Source: adapted from T.R. Leinbach and J.T. Bowen (2004) Airspaces: Air Transport, Technology and Society, in D.B. Brunn, S.L. Cutter and J.W. Harrington (eds) Geography and Technology, Dordretch, The Netherlands: Kluwer.
Main Commercial Passenger Aircraft, 1935-2011
The design and operational efficiency of aircrafts has substantially improved. The main contemporary improvement of aircrafts does not concern speed, but range and particularly fuel consumption. For aircrafts that have been recently designed, this implies the usage of composite materials such as carbon fibers. If each plane were flown an average of 10 hours per day, a Boeing 707 could perform 240% more passenger-kilometers in a year than a Douglas DC-7, a Boeing 747 performs 250% more than a 707, and an Airbus A380 is able to perform 50% more than a first-generation 747. In practice, longer-range aircraft are flown more hours per day than shorter range aircraft since shorter range aircrafts have to spend more time in ground operations.