KLM is to carry out a $53 million upgrade of its Boeing 747-200/300s and keep the aircraft in service well into the next century. KLM is the first airline to commit to an extensive cockpit upgrade of so-called 747 'Classics'.

The package includes a major cockpit upgrade, aimed at "considerably reducing maintenance costs". The changes include:

- replacement of mechanical fuel gauges with the digital system used in the 747-400;

- introduction of a new aircraft condition-monitoring system;

- a new flight-management system, with combined global-positioning/inertial-navigation system;

- introduction of the ACARS airline communications, addressing and reporting system;

- replacement of mechanical fuel gauges on the flight engineer's panel with a more-accurate digital system.


Smiths Industries Aerospace has been given a contract to supply seven 125mm active-matrix liquid-crystal displays for each aircraft. Enhancements to the passenger cabin and ageing-aircraft work will also be performed.

The first modified aircraft is due to re-enter service in early 1998, and flightcrew will be cross-qualified to fly both modified and unmodified aircraft during the transition period, says KLM.

The 747 Classics were due to be phased out early next century. "We will keep them at least three to five years longer than anticipated, but we haven't set a final phase-out date yet," says the Dutch airline.

Source: Flight International