A Boeing 747 is easily one of the most significant airplanes in history and was the most commonly sold and used passenger airplane for the better part of history. However, in the spirit of curiosity, you might be wondering how many golf balls fit in a 747?
First, you should know that this is a brain teaser that is often asked in job interviews to assess the methodology of the interviewee, but it also has a logical answer if you lay out some rules beforehand. Technically, you should be able to fit around 11,043,314 to 13,850,937 golf balls in a 747.
If you want to find out more about this curious question and its full answer keep on reading this brief guide!
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How Many Golf Balls Fit in a Boeing 747?
Before answering this question, you should know that it depends mainly on the conditions provided for the answer.
In other words, if you’re asked this question, the best approach would be to inquire about the question conditions.
For example, you should know that there are different variants of the Boeing 747 which have different capacities, and therefore, each one will have a slightly different answer.
Additionally, you want to know whether the seats would be left intact or whether you should fill up the entire bulk of the plane, the cargo area, or only the passenger area.
Since golf balls are round, you’ll also need to keep the stacking method in mind, as this too can have an impact on the total number of golf balls that you can fit inside a 747 airplane.
By keeping all these points in your mind while answering, you’ll be able to make your calculations right. Here’s a full approach to answer this question:
Things to Keep in Mind While Answering the Question
As previously mentioned, your method and laid-out rules are as important as the answer itself, since they can impact the answer in one way or another. So here are some key points to keep in mind while answering this interesting question:
- We are using a 747 400F Boeing for calculations, as it’s the most popular variant of the airplane.
- Functional units, such as the fuel tanks and the cockpit cabin, are left intact and out of calculations, but you can add them if you want an even more hypothetical answer.
- No accommodations or adjustments are made to the plane, so the seats, storage bins, decks, and floors are all left intact as well.
- Since there are no balls cut or modified, we’ll round up the final answer to the lower whole number.
A Step by Step Guide to Solve the Question Mathematically
Let’s break down the question into sections to make it easier to solve:
1. Calculate Dimensions of the Golf Ball
For starters, we need to settle on a specific golf ball size and assume that all the balls used here are identical.
To make this one easier, we’ll use the standardized size of modern golf balls, which has a diameter of exactly 1.68 inches or 0.14 feet. This gives us a radius (r) of exactly 0.07 feet.
The volume of a single golf ball is measured as a sphere, with a formula of 4/3 x π x r^3.
This means that a golf ball’s volume is 4/3 x π x 0.07^3 = 0.00143 cubic feet.
2. Correct the Volume of Golf Balls by Packing Density Coefficient
Since we’re not pouring the balls as a liquid, we’ll have to take the packing efficiency into account while calculating the size of the balls.
Unlike cubes, spheres leave an air gap between them that will reduce the total number of balls. To correct this number, you’ll need to multiply it by a packing density coefficient:
If the balls are neatly stacked the packing density coefficient can be as high as 0.74, but if the balls are just poured randomly into the plane (more likely), this brings the coefficient down to 0.59.
3. Calculate the Total Volume of 747 Cabins and Compartments
According to the specifications of a 747 400F variety, the volume of the 747 cabins are as the following:
- The main Deck volume is 21,645 cubic feet
- The Lower Compartment (Bellies) volume is 4,601 cubic feet
- The bulk volume is 520 cubic feet
This means that the total volume of all usable compartments of the Boeing 747 is 21,645 + 4,601 + 520 = 26,766 cubic feet.
If you’re going to use other compartments of the 747 to fill up with golf balls, such as the fuel tanks and pilot cabin, you should add them to the total volume here.
4. Find the Number of Golf Balls That You Can Fit in a 747
Now that you have all the calculations needed for our question, let’s crunch them up to find how many balls you can fit in a standard model of Boeing 747:
The number of golf balls = (total volume of the 747 / volume of a single golf ball ) x packing coefficient = (26,766 / 0.00143) x 0.59 = 11,043,314 golf balls when rounded to the nearest whole number or 13,850,937 balls if they’re stacked in the highest efficiency.
How Many Golf Balls Can a Boeing 747 Fly with?
A Boeing 747 has a maximum payload take-off weight of 248,600 pounds. Assuming that a single golf ball weighs a maximum of 1.620 ounces (0.1 pounds), you can only fly with 2,486,000 golf balls or less.
There you have it! A brief guide that answers the curious question “how many golf balls fit in a Boeing 747?”.
As you can see, the answer to this question can be a little tricky, but given that the plane is left intact and is supposed to fly, you should get a total available capacity of 26,766 cubic feet. In that case, a Boeing 747 should be able to carry 11,043,314 golf balls.
With that said, you should know that, in most cases, it’s not about the actual answer to the question, but the method you use to answer it. So depending on your approach and rules, you can get a different answer!