Are 747s Safe to Fly?

BOEING'S FAMOUS JUMBO JET, THE 747, HAS BEEN THE KING OF THE SKIES since it went into commercial service in 1970. More than 900 of its four models still form the vanguard of long-range airline fleets around the world. The 747 has enjoyed an outstanding safety record: only 11 have crashed in 22 years.

In the past 10 months, however, two 747 cargo planes, model 200, have gone down in alarmingly similar circumstances. A China Airlines plane lost both its starboard engines shortly after takeoff from Taipei last December. Over Amsterdam last week, the engines on the El Al cargo flight's...

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