Tricked-out 747 - United Hub
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Tricked-out 747s

By The Hub team, November 09, 2017

Since its debut in 1969, the Boeing 747 has been called upon for its fair share of special missions, from carrying U.S. presidents to fighting forests fires. Here, a look at five of the coolest modifications in the jumbo jet's history.

Air Force One

Perhaps the most famous airplanes in the world, the "Flying Oval Office" is actually a pair of specifically modified, sel-sufficient Boeing 747-200Bs (or VC-25s in Air Force terminology) that use the call sign "Air Force One" when the sitting U.S. president is on board. The planes have 4,000 square feet of interior floor space and such special features as air-to-air refueling, a medical operating room, and other classified perks. The current planes were delivered in 1990, during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, and are expected to be replaced soon with updated 747-8i models.

Boeing 747 Dreamlifter

Boeing created the hulking 747 Dreamlifter cargo plane for a very specific purpose: to haul 787 parts that were too massive for other forms of transportation to its production facilities in Washington state. The modified 747-400 features a bulging midsection that has earned it comparisons to the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile, and, at 65,000 cubic feet, its enormous cargo is the world's largest by volume.

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)

A modified United 747SP was transformed into SOFIA, a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (or DLR) designed to carry the world's only flying infrared astronomy laboratory on missions that can take place only at altitudes of about 41,000 feet. The airplane's body features an enormous door that can be opened mid-flight to allow its infrared telescope access to the sky.

Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA)

U.S. presidents aren't the only high-profile cargo carried by the 747. NASA employed a pair of modified 747-100s to transport space shuttles from their landing sites back to Kennedy Space Center, as well as on numerous test flights. The aircraft's range was reduced to a mere 1,000 nautical miles due to the dramatically increased payload of the space shuttle, which is mounted atop the the plane, piggyback-style.

Evergreen 747 Supertanker

The world's largest firefighting plane debuted in 2009 in the shell of a 747-100 and is capable of dropping nearly 20,000 gallons of fire retardant or water on large fires. An updated version, flying under the name Global Supertanker and built on a 747-400 frame, was used for the first time in the U.S. this summer to fight a Northern California wildfire.

United's regional presidents join respective Governor's COVID-19 task force

By Ryan Wilks, May 21, 2020

As a member in the tourism, travel and transportation industries, United offers a unique perspective into the economic and operational effects rippling across the U.S. To advocate United's efforts, and in anticipation of a bright future, New York/New Jersey President Jill Kaplan and California President Janet Lamkin have both been named to their states' respective governor's COVID-19 response task force committees.

Making every step of the travel journey safer for you

By United Airlines, May 20, 2020
United Clean Plus | Clorox

We remain passionate about connecting the world safely

United CleanPlus SM is our commitment to putting health and safety at the forefront of your journey, with the goal of delivering an industry-leading standard of cleanliness. We're teaming up with Clorox to redefine our cleaning and disinfection procedures, and over the coming months, we'll roll out Clorox products across our U.S. airports, starting in select locations, to help support a healthy and safe environment throughout your travel experience.

At the airport

  • At check-in:

  • 1
    Implementing temperature checks for employees and flight attendants working at hub airports
  • 2
    Installing sneeze guards at check-in and gate podiums
  • 3
    Encouraging use of the United app for contactless travel assistance and more
  • 4
    Promoting social distancing with floor decals to help customers stand 6 feet apart
  • 5
    Introducing touchless check-in for customers with bags
  • At the gate:

  • 6
    Disinfecting high-touch areas such as door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, telephones and computers
  • 7
    Providing hand sanitizer and
    disinfectant wipes
  • 8
    Allowing customers to self-scan boarding passes
  • 9
    Boarding fewer customers at a time and, after pre-boarding, boarding from the back of the plane to the front to promote social distancing

On our aircraft

  • 1
    Providing individual hand sanitizer wipes for customers
  • 2
    Requiring all customers and employees to wear a face covering and providing disposable face coverings for customers who need them
  • 3
    Temporarily removing onboard items like pillows, blankets and inflight magazines
  • 4
    Disinfecting high-touch areas, like tray tables and armrests, before boarding
  • 5
    Reducing contact between flight attendants and customers during snack and beverage service
  • 6
    Ensuring aircraft cleaning standards meet or exceed CDC guidelines
  • 7
    Applying social distancing to seating procedures when possible, including:
    • Limiting middle seat selection
    • Moving customers seated closely together
    • De-planing in groups of five rows at a time to reduce crowding
  • 8
    Using electrostatic spraying to disinfect aircraft, to be completed on all flights by mid-June
  • 9
    Using state-of-the-art, hospital-grade, high-efficiency (HEPA) filters to circulate air and remove up to 99.7% of airborne particles

Cleveland Clinic We're working closely with the experts at Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols for the safety of our employees and customers. Visit Cleveland Clinic's website to learn more about COVID-19.

A message from Scott Kirby, United’s new CEO

By The Hub team, May 20, 2020


Hello. I'm Scott Kirby, the new CEO of United Airlines. I'm a proud Air Force Academy graduate and have spent my entire career in and around aviation, including the last four years as President of United.

While I had planned for my first communication with you to be about the meaningful investments we were making to the travel experience and our continued growth across the U.S. and expansion to exciting new destinations around the world, today, the situation rendered to us by the COVID-19 pandemic leads me to a different type of message.

First, I graciously and humbly thank you for your business. Now, more than ever, our customers' loyalty is so deeply appreciated by every member of the United family.

As essential workers, the men and women of our airline have been hard at work over the past two months to transport vital medical supplies and critical goods to places that need them most, to provide free travel to healthcare professionals and to help thousands of individuals repatriate to their home countries.

Safety has always been our top priority, and right now in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, it's our singular customer focus. We recognize that COVID-19 has brought cleanliness and hygiene standards to the front of your mind when making travel decisions. We're not leaving a single stone unturned in our pursuit to protect our customers and employees.

We are installing plexiglass in lobby and gate areas, we're using the same equipment used to clean hospitals to disinfect the interiors of our aircraft, all crew and customers on board are required to wear face mask coverings and we're taking the temperature of our employees before they start work.

But at United, we're not stopping there. We're teaming up with experts from Clorox and the Cleveland Clinic to set a new standard for cleanliness and healthy flying that we are calling United CleanPlus℠.

Clorox is working closely with us to improve how we disinfect common surfaces and provide our customers with amenities that support a healthy and safe environment.

Physicians and scientists at the Cleveland Clinic, will advise us on new technologies and approaches, assist in training development and create a rigorous quality assurance program. And, as scientists learn more about how to fight COVID-19, Cleveland Clinic experts will help us use those discoveries to quickly implement new ways to keep our customers safe.

While we may not know when this pandemic will subside, what we do know is that travel is so deeply woven into the fabric of our global culture. We all desire to visit family, dance at a friend's wedding, hug parents…and see the wonders of this beautiful world. No matter how sharp the picture quality – or how strong the WiFi signal – there's simply no substitute for being there – in person – to collaborate, celebrate, explore. We are confident that travel will return. And when it does, United Airlines will be ready to serve you again in the friendly skies.

Thank you. Be well. And I look forward to seeing you on board.

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