| This week sees the 31st anniversary of the first flight of the Boeing 747-400 (29 April 1988). The Boeing 747-400, serial number 23719, registration N401PW, flew for the first time under the command of test pilot James Loesch and co-pilot Kenneth Higgins. The first flight was six weeks behind schedule, owing to subcontractor delays in supplying components, and extra troubleshooting on the aircraft's electronics systems.The maiden flight took off from Paine Field, site of the Everett factory, and landed at Boeing Field, south of Seattle, after an uneventful 2 hours and 26 minutes.
The 747-400 was a major development of the 747 series. It had many structural and electronics improvements over the earlier models, which had debuted 18 years earlier. New systems, such as a “glass cockpit”, flight management computers, and new engines allowed it to be flown with a crew of just two pilots, and the position of Flight Engineer became unnecessary.