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Boeing 727

By Patrick Mondout

Boeing was dominating the civilian jet market by the early 1960s with the 707. The problem for some airlines with the 707 was that it was designed for long flights; its four engines required a lot of fuel and it was too big for many airports. Enter the 727.

Better, Smaller, Faster

Airlines such as Pan Am loved the 707 with it's long range and high passenger capacity. But airlines such as Eastern needed a jet they could fly on shorter routes with less passengers and with less fuel consumption. And it was Eastern Airlines that stepped forward with an order for 40 aircraft when Boeing showed them the plans for their new 727.

The three engine 727 was smaller, faster, and in the minds of many airline executives, better than its predecessors. It had a self-contained stairway which not only made it easier for boarding and unloading passengers at the airport, but in mid flight as well.

Boeing 727

HK-1803, an Avianca 727-21 seen in Colombia, March 1980. This 727 was destroyed on November 27 1989, while operating as flight AV203 from Bogotá to Cali, Columbia. A bomb put under a passenger seat over the wings exploded shortly after takeoff, destroying the plane and killing all 101 passengers and 6 crew members.

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at


Many folks in smaller cities remember the venerable 727 as the first jet they ever saw; its performance characteristics allowed it to fly to smaller airports than the DC-8 and 707. 

The last of the 1832 727s rolled off the assembly lines in 1983. At this point of time, it was the best selling jet of all time and the only one to sell over 1500. (The 737 soon shattered that record.) By the end of the millennium, there were still 1300 727s in service around the world.

Boeing 727

Image courtesy NASA/Dryden

The 727 was involved in the D.B. Cooper hijacking - only unsolved sky-jacking case in FBI history.

Boeing 727 at a Glance
Engines3 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-15 turbofans
Cruising Speed630
Passengers189 (145 standard)
Length153ft 2in
Final Production1983
Mesurements refer to 727-200


Share Your Memories!

What do you remember about the Boeing 727? Were you a member of the flight crew on one? Have you any interesting stories to share? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"My first trip on a plane might have been on an Air Canada Boeing 727 in 1979. However, the Canadian flag-carrier operated two single-isle, six-abreast jetliners during that time (the other was the Douglas Company DC-8). I was only 7 years old when I flew from Vancouver to Winnipeg, and since I had hardly any general knowlege of airliners, I am unsure which one I flew on. And so far, every flight I boarded on an American carrier (Delta) was on the 727.
Unfortunately, Air Canada retired its entire 727 fleet after only 18 years of service (other fleets usually last from 25-30 years). Replacing them, however, was the Airbus 320, which was originally designed to compete with the Boeing 737. However, the A320 is built with a cabin layout almost identical to the 727- and therefore ended up as a replacement for the retiring 727 fleets instead.
As impractical as it is for major airlines to continue operating the 727 today, I will always cherish the 727 as possibly the first plane I ever flew on - during a time when it became the most produced jetliner"


"Never in my life did I think I would ever see the day the old "Three Holer" would ever see the end of service life with the major carriers. When I was growing up in the 60`s and Super70s. You could not turn around in an airport without bumping into 10 or so. I flew on so many 727`s that I eventualy lost count. She was a fine airplane and will be missed with every passing day. My best memories of the 727 will be of my flights out of Burbank to visit relatives in Portland. Continental`s Golden Fanjet 727`s gave me memories to treasure for a lifetime!"

--Trijet Jim

"I remember the whine of the engines on takeoff and the springy ride and the flaps on the wing how they could come so far out and down. I truly miss them but I know they were past their time even by the late Awesome80s and am surprised that the major us carriers retired the last of them in 2002-3 - amazing.
What a beautiful aircraft - so much so I'm searching very hard to find a retired 727-200 to make my home."


"Do I remember reading, or is it a false memory, that during the late 1960s the U.S. Navy stripped a 727-100 down, beefed up its landing gear, tweaked its engines and landed it on a cleared-off carrier deck off the coast of California and later flew it back off?? A quickly abandoned idea about resupply.
I'll swear I read about it, either in Proceedings of the Naval Institute or in Aviation Week. Did I, or didn't I? [Editor's note: Not sure, but perhaps one of our readers can answer that.]"

--Rob Hobbs

"According to Robert Serling's book about the Boeing Company, three Boeing 727s were acquired by Air America, which was operated by the CIA. Indeed, the head of Air America inquired about how much cargo could be dropped down the rear stairs before Air America purchased its 727s.
The program faced a number of challenges in its birth--the design of an aircraft that could get into airports with short runways, yet be flexible to fly both short routes and long, stiff competition from other manufacturers and the struggles of a company coming out of its experience with the Boeing 707, among other things. Nonetheless, the Boeing 727 became established as a classic aircraft, up there with such transports as the Boeing 707, the 747, the DC-3, the Lockheed Constellation and the A-320 Airbus (which introduced fly-by-wire controls).
I have read Harold Mansfield's excellent account of the development of the Boeing 727 aircraft, BILLION DOLLAR BATTLE, and recommend it to anyone who is curious about the early history of the 727. Serling's book LEGEND AND LEGACY, which deals with the Boeing Company through the early 1990s is also good. A third book, WIDE BODY, by Clive Irving, which focuses on the Boeing 747, also has some fascinating details on the Boeing 727 and the head of the 727 project, Jack Steiner."




Image courtesy of Boeing

Model: 727

Manufacturer: Boeing

Country: US

First Flight: February 9, 1963

First Passenger Flight: February 1, 1964

Launch CustomerEastern

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