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Boeing 720

By Patrick Mondout

The Boeing 720 (it was called the 717 during development) was a short-lived, short-to-medium range version of the 707 that was phased out after the introduction of the 727. The 727 had half the engines which made it more economical for shorter routes.

Boeing, which had lost United Airlines first jet order (of what was 30 aircraft in 1955 but had increased to 40 in 1957) to Douglas and its DC-8 was willing to tailor this airliner to regain United. The strategy worked when United ordered 11 (later increased to 29) of the new 720.

Boeing 720

N720BG, a colorful Ecuatoriana Airways Boeing 720-023B(F) seen in Marana in August 1985.

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at

While some view the aircraft as failure, it should be pointed out that Boeing sold 154 of the aircraft and it was a mere derivative of the 707 rather than being an expensive new design. That total is more than the Trident, the VC-10, or the Convair 880/990. The airlines who bought them may have had trouble unloading them in the Super70s, but Boeing had no trouble selling them new.

Boeing 720

Image courtesy NASA/Dryden

Boeing 720 at a Glance
Engines4 Pratt & Whitney JT3C-7 turbofans
Cruising Speed605
Span130ft 10in
Length136ft 2in
Height41ft 6.5in
Final Production1979
Mesurements refer to 720B


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A United Airlines Boeing 720-022 seen at Chicago's O'Hare in August 1971.

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at

Model: 720

Manufacturer: Boeing

Country: US

First Flight: November 23, 1959

First Passenger Flight: July 5, 1960

Launch CustomerUnited

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