747SP Pan Am airplane model. The SP suffix in 747SP stands for Special Performance, and points to the ultra long range abilities of this 747 variant that preceded the current 747-400 by 15 years. The 747SP's range is best illustrated by the spate of long range distance records it set in the mid 1970s. The most prominent of those was the delivery flight of a South African Airways SP, which over March 23/24 1976 flew nonstop with 50 passengers from Paine Field in Washington State to Cape Town, South Africa, a distance of 16,560km (8940nm). This was a world nonstop record for a commercial aircraft.
While shortening the 747's fuselage increased the fuel fraction and thus range, it also meant that seating capacity was reduced. The fuselage is shortened by 14.35m (47ft 1in), while the vertical tail was increased in height to compensate for the reduced moment arm with the shorter fuselage. Structurally the 747SP was lightened in some areas because of the significant reduction in gross weights. Overall though the 747SP retained 90% commonality of components with the 747-100 and 200.