747/A380 cockpit location

To my knowledge, the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 are the only two aircraft to feature a “double-decker” layout. It is interesting to note that Boeing placed the cockpit on the upper deck of the 747, while Airbus chose to put the cockpit on the lower deck.

Anyone know what drove those design decisions?

The 747 was originally designed, at Pan Am’s behest, to be easy to convert into a freighter with nose-door access, once the SST’s came into service and replaced them (ah, those were simpler times …). That forced the cockpit to go up above the main cabin (it’s kinda cool to be seated forward of the crew, btw, which I’ve done). A similar USAF requirement put the C-5 cockpit above the main cargo area, too.

The A380 has it on the main deck because there’s no need for it to be high, and because that layout makes less of a transition problem for pilots used to the sight picture when landing other large jets.

Not sure about the Airbus, but the 747 grew out of a design request by the US Air Force for a heavy lift transport. One of the requirements was that the aircraft be loaded from the front as well as the rear. To do this, the cockpit has to be swung out of the way with the door or, as Boeing (and the eventual winner, Lockheed) chose, move the cockpit above the cargo deck.

Boeing took the design to PanAm and kept the freight design figuring that passengers would end up on supersonic aircraft, leaving freight to subsonic craft.

Not the first time the cockpit was above the cargo deck, check out Freddie Laker’s Carvair, it’s like a propeller powered 747!

on preview, ElvisL1ves already covered this. Blast. At least I got to mention the Carvair, one of my favorites.

IIRC the 747 was the Boeing design that lost to the Galaxy C5A for military cargo transport.
So as mentioned above, the cockpit was set up top to allow full frontal loading like the Galaxy. When they lost the bid, they repurposed it as a large passenger plane.

The 747 is of course still used for cargo by many civilian operators.

For an alternative cockpit placement for front loading, google the Airbus Beluga.

And you can google for pictures of the entire beak lifted to allow front loading on some of those models.

Not exactly. The Boeing entrant in the CX-HLS competition looked pretty much like Lockheed’s (and Douglas’), since all were following the same RFP. But Boeing was in the position of having to develop the 747 at the same time, so when all those people suddenly became available, the 747 project took them all on. The 747 freighter was Juan Trippe’s baby.

Including the 747 Dreamlifter, which is heavily modified from the 747 - in fact only ever built from USED 747’s, retains the 747 nose, but the cargo is loaded by opening the tail.

Not sure if Atlas is allowed to use it for any other cargo other than Boeing orders ?

Not that it matters, but the A380 cockpit is slightly above the lower deck level. See this video at around 7 seconds. It’s not very good quality but it shows the four steps leading to the cockpit.