Aircraft Wiki
A Delta 727-200 taxiing.

The 727's fuselage has an outer diameter that allows six-abreast seating (three per side) and a single central access walkway when coach-class (18 inch width) seats are installed.

The first Boeing 727 flew in 1963 and for over a decade it was the most produced commercial jet airliner in the world. A total of 1,831 727s were delivered. The 727's sales record for the most jet airliners ever sold was broken in the early 1990s by its younger stablemate, the Boeing 737. In August 2008, there were a total of 81 Boeing 727-100 aircraft and 419 727-200 aircraft in airline service.[1] These are constantly being replaced by more fuel-efficient Boeing 737s and Airbus A320-family aircraft.

Design and development[]


Cargo version of 727

The 727 design arose as a compromise between United Airlines, American Airlines, and Eastern Air Lines requirements over the configuration of a jet airliner to service smaller cities which often had shorter runways and correspondingly smaller passenger demand. United Airlines wanted a four-engined aircraft for its flights to high-altitude airports, especially its hub at Stapleton International Airport at Denver, Colorado. American, which was operating the four-engined Boeing 707 and 720, wanted a twin-engined aircraft for efficiency reasons. Eastern wanted a third engine for its overwater flights to the Caribbean, since at that time twin-engined commercial flights were limited by regulations to routes with 60-minute maximum flying time to an airport (see ETOPS/LROPS). Eventually, the three airlines agreed on a trijet, and thus the 727 was born. The third JT8D engine, which is located at the very rear of the fuselage (called engine 2), is supplied with air from an inlet at the front of the vertical fin through an S-shaped duct to the engine's inlet.[2] The 727 featured high-lift devices on its wing, thus being one of the first jets able to operate from relatively short runways. Later models of the 727 were stretched to accommodate more passengers and they ended up replacing earlier jet airliners, such as the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8, on domestic routes.

The 727 proved to be a reliable and versatile airliner so that came to form the core of many start-up airlines' fleets, it is sometimes described as the "DC-3 of the Jet Age".[verification needed] The 727 was successful with airlines worldwide partly because of its capability to use smaller runways while still flying medium range routes. This effectively allowed airlines to attract passengers from cities with large populations but smaller airports to worldwide tourist destinations. One of the features that gave the 727 its ability to land on shorter runways was its unique wing design. Due to the absence of wing-mounted engines, leading-edge lift enhancement equipment (Krueger, or hinged, flaps on the inner portion of the leading edge, and extendable leading-edge slats on the remainder of the leading edge), and trailing-edge lift enhancement equipment (triple-slotted[3], aft-moving flaps) could be used on the entire wing. The combination of these high-lift devices produced a maximum wing lift coefficient of 3.6 (based on the flap-retracted wing area). Thus the 727 could fly with great stability at very low speeds compared to other early jets. The 727 also had nosegear brakes fitted in the beginning to further decrease braking distance upon landing. However, these were soon removed from service, as they provided little useful reduction in braking distances, while adding weight and increasing maintenance requirements.

The 727 was designed to be used at smaller, regional airports, so independence from ground facilities was an important requirement. This gave rise to one of the 727's most distinctive features: the built-in airstair that opens from the rear underbelly of the fuselage. D. B. Cooper, the hijacker, parachuted from the back of a 727 as it was flying over the Pacific Northwest. Boeing subsequently modified the design with the Cooper vane so that the airstair could not be lowered in flight. Another innovation was the inclusion of an APU (auxiliary power unit), which allowed electrical and air-conditioning systems to run independent of a ground-based power supply, without having to start one of the main engines. The 727 can also back itself up, thus not requiring the push tractor needed for most other jet airliners to leave an airport gate. The 727 is equipped with a retractable tail skid which is designed to protect the aircraft in the event of an over-rotation on takeoff.


The 727 is a stage II aircraft, making it one of the world's loudest commercial jetliners (the US Noise Control Act of 1972, 42USC 4901-4918, mandated the gradual introduction of quieter stages of aircraft, with the first introduction to be called Stage 3 airplanes. Aircraft which did not meet the ground-perceived noise levels specified for Stage 3 would be called Stage 2). The 727's JT8D jet engines use older low-bypass turbofan technology while Stage 3 aircraft utilize the more efficient and quieter high-bypass turbofan design. When the Stage 3 requirement was being proposed, Boeing engineers analyzed the possibility of incorporating quieter engines on the 727. They determined that the JT8D-200 engine could be used on the two side-mounted pylons, but the structural work required to fit the larger-diameter engine (49.2 inch fan diameter in the JT8D-200 vs. 39.9 inches in the JT8D-7) into the fuselage structure at the engine 2 location would be too great to be justifiable. Since the quieter engine could not be used in all three sites, the 727 could not be made into a Stage 3 aircraft.[verification needed]

At the turn of the 21st century, the 727 was still in service with a few airline fleets. However, because in the meantime the U.S. FAA and the ICAO had changed their requirements for overwater operations, most major airlines had already begun to switch to twinjets, aircraft with only two engines, which are more fuel-efficient and quieter than the three-engined 727. Also, the 727 was one of the last airliners in service to have a three-person flight crew, including a flight engineer, a crew member whose job is performed by computerized systems on newer planes.

If a 727 is used in commercial service at present, it must be retrofitted with hush kits to reduce engine noise to Stage 3 level. One such hushkit is offered by Fedex,[4] and this kit has been purchased by over 50 customers.[5] After market winglets have been installed on many 727s as a means of noise reduction as part of so called "Quiet Wing" Kits and for added fuel economy. Kelowna Flightcraft's maintenance division in Canada has installed winglets on Donald Trump's private 727-100. He owns one example of the aircraft.

Operational history[]

In addition to domestic flights of medium range, the 727 was popular with international passenger airlines. The range of flights it could cover (and the additional safety added by the third engine) meant that the 727 proved efficient for short to medium range international flights in areas around the world. Prior to its introduction, four-engined jets or propeller-driven airliners were required for transoceanic service.

The 727 also proved popular with cargo airlines and charter airlines. FedEx introduced 727s in 1978. 727s were the backbone of its fleet until recently, but FedEx is now phasing them out in favor of the Boeing 757. Many cargo airlines worldwide now employ the 727 as a workhorse, since as it is being phased out of U.S. domestic service due to noise regulations, it becomes available to overseas users in areas where such noise regulations have not yet been instituted. Charter airlines Sun Country, Champion Air, and Ryan International Airlines were all started with 727 aircraft.

Other companies use the 727 as a way to transport passengers to their resorts or cruise ships. Such was the example of Carnival Cruise Lines, which used both the 727 and 737 to fly both regular flights and flights to transport their passengers to cities that harbored their ships. Carnival used the jets on its airline division, Carnival Air Lines.

Faced with higher fuel costs (although all major United States airlines phased them out immediately prior to the oil price increases since 2003), lower passenger volumes due to the post-9/11 economic climate, increasing restrictions on airport noise, and the extra expenses of maintaining older planes and paying flight engineers' salaries, most major airlines have phased 727s out of their fleets. Delta Air Lines, the last major U.S. carrier to do so, retired its last 727 in March,2003. However, the 727 is still flying for smaller start-up airlines, cargo airlines, and charter airlines, and it is also sometimes used as a private means of transportation. The official replacement for the 727 in Boeing's lineup was the Boeing 757. However, the smallest 757 variant, the 757-200, is significantly larger than the 727-200, so many airlines replaced their 727s with either the 737-800 or EADS' Airbus A320, both of which are closer in size to the 727-200.


There are two variants of the 727. The 727-100 was launched in 1960 and placed into service in February 1964. The 727-200 was launched in 1965 and placed into service in December 1967.


The first production model.


Convertible passenger cargo version. Additional freight door and strengthened floor and floor beams. Three alternate fits:

  • 94 mixed-class passengers
  • 52 mixed class passengers and four cargo pallets (22,700lb (10297kg))
  • Eight cargo pallets (38,000lb (17237kg))

QC stands for Quick Change. This is similar to the Convertible version with a roller-bearing floor for palletised galley and seating and/or cargo to allow much faster changeover time (30 minutes).


QF stands for Quiet Freighter. A cargo conversion for United Parcel Service, re-engined with Stage III-compliant Rolls-Royce Tay turbofans.


Stretched version of the 727-100. The -200 is 20 ft (m {{{4}}}) longer (153 feet, 2 inches) than the -100 (133 feet, 2 inches). A ten foot fuselage section was added in front of the wings and another ten foot fuselage section was added behind them. The wing span and height remain the same on both the -100 and -200 (108 feet and 34 ft (m {{{4}}}), respectively). The gross weight was increased from 169,000 to 209,500 pounds.

The dorsal intake of the number 2 engine was also redesigned to be round in shape, as opposed to oval as it was on the 100 series.

Advanced 727-200

MTOW and range increased. Also, Cabin improvements

Advanced 727-200F

All freight version of the 727-200.

Super 27

Speed increased by 50 mi/h (km/h {{{4}}}), due to replacement of the two side engines with the JT8D-217, which are also found on many MD-80s, and addition of hush kits to the center engine. These aftermarket modifications were performed by companies independent of Boeing, such as Valsan and Dee Howard.


Major airlines that have flown the jet include Aerocontinente, AeroGal, AeroSur, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Aerolíneas Internacionales, Aeroperu, Air Algerie, Air Canada, Air France, Air Jamaica, Air Panama, ANA, Air Vanuatu, Alaska Airlines, Alitalia, American, Ansett, ASTAR, ATA Airlines, Avensa, Avianca, Aviacsa, Braniff International, China Airlines, Continental Airlines, Continental Micronesia, Copa, CP Air, Dan-Air Services, Delta Air Lines, Dominicana, Eastern Air Lines, FedEx, First Air, Iberia, Iran Air, Japan Airlines, JAT, Kam Air, Kiwi International Air Lines, Korean Air, Lloyd Aereo Boliviano, Lufthansa, Mexicana, LACSA, LaNica Nicaraguan Airlines, Northeast Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Olympic Airways, Pacific Southwest Airlines, Paramountjet, Pan Am, People Express, Philippine Airlines, Pride Air, Republic Airlines (1979-1986), Royal Air Maroc, Sabena,Sabre, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways,Sterling, TAA,TAP Portugal Transbrasil, Tunisair, United Airlines,UPS, US Airways, Varig, VASP, Viasa, and Western Airlines. Also the 727 has been operated by charter airlines such as Carnival Air Lines, Tame and Hapag-Lloyd.

In August 2008, a total of 500 Boeing 727 aircraft (all variants) were in airline service. Operators with more than nine aircraft are: FedEx (86), Astar Air Cargo (25), Champion Air (16), Kitty Hawk Aircargo (16), Capital Cargo International Airlines (13), Cargojet Airways (12), Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter (13), Libyan Arab Airlines (10), and Transmile Air Services (5).[1]

Zero-Gravity Corporation uses a modified Boeing 727 to give paying customers a brief experience of weightlessness, similar to NASA's Vomit Comet that is used to train astronauts.

The 727 carries the distinction of being one of the two planes to be operated by all six US legacy carriers, the other being the Boeing 757.

Accidents and incidents[]

As of 2007, a total of 282 incidents involving 727s had occurred, including 106 hull-loss accidents[6] resulting in a total of 3,703 fatalities. The 727 has also been in 178 hijackings involving 256 fatalities.[7]

Notable accidents[]

  • On November 11 1965 a United Airlines Boeing 727-100 departed New York-LaGuardia for a flight to San Francisco via Cleveland, Chicago, Denver, and Salt Lake City. Flight 227 crashed on landing at Salt Lake International Airport, causing the deaths of 43 of the 91 people on board.
  • In 1971, an Alaska Airlines Boeing 727-100 operating as flight 1866 crashed into a mountain while on approach to Juneau, Alaska. The cause included the crew's receiving misleading navigational information. All seven crew members and 104 passengers were killed.
  • In 1971, passenger D. B. Cooper hijacked Northwest Airlines Flight 305 while it was en route from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington. After receiving a payment of $200,000 and 4 parachutes when he was in Seattle, he told the pilots to fly to Mexico, and jumped out of the aircraft from the aft airstairs over Washington or Oregon. Many think he didn't survive the jump but former FBI agent Russell Calame and Bernie Rhodes, a former federal probation officer, have written a book making a case that Cooper was really Richard Floyd McCoy Jr., who was caught after hijacking a plane in April, 1972.
  • In 1972, during an attempted coup d'état, jets from the Royal Moroccan Air Force fired upon the Boeing 727 of King Hassan II of Morocco while he was traveling to Rabat. After the aircraft survived the attack, the king awarded the plane a medal of honor.[verification needed]
  • In 1973, on February 21, a Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 Boeing 727-200 flying over the Sinai Desert was shot by Israeli air forces that suspected it of being an enemy military plane. Of 113 people on board, 108 died.
  • In 1975, Eastern Air Lines Flight 66 crashed on approach for John F. Kennedy International Airport. 112 people died.It was the worst air disaster in the United States at the time.The cause was a microburst.
  • On December 1, 1974, a TWA Boeing 727-200 (registration N54328), operating as Flight 514, crashed on Mount Weather while flying from Indianapolis, Indiana, and Columbus, Ohio, to Washington Dulles International Airport in turbulent weather. All 85 passengers and 7 crewmembers aboard were killed.
  • On September 25, 1978, PSA Flight 182, a Pacific Southwest Airlines Boeing 727, crashed after colliding with a Cessna 172 aircraft in San Diego, killing 144 people.
  • In 1980, a Dan-Air Boeing 727-46 crashed in Tenerife. All on board were killed when the aircraft hit terrain while circling.[8]
  • In 1982, VASP Flight 168, a Boeing 727-200A, a scheduled passenger flight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Fortaleza crashed into a hillside on final approach to Fortaleza, killing all 137 people on board.
  • In 1985, an Iberia Boeing 727 crashed after striking a television antenna while landing in Bilbao, killing 148 people.[verification needed]
  • In 1996, 143 people were killed when an ADC Boeing 727 went down near Ejirin, Nigeria, losing control after taking evasive action to avoid a midair collision.[verification needed]
  • On May 25, 2003, a 727 registration number N844AA, formerly used by American Airlines, was stolen from Luanda's international airport in Angola.[verification needed] The mechanic who was on the plane, Ben Charles Padilla, has never been heard from again.[verification needed]
  • Los aviones Boeing-727, llevan un tercer piloto, el Ingeniero de Vuelo, quien tiene a su cargo la operación de los sistemas y fuel management durante el vuelo, es importante reconocerlo porque aliva las tareas de los pilotos en un gran porcentaje del trabajo dentro del cockpit. Es un tripulante técnico en cuya responsabilidad recae la de ser un gran conocedor de todos los sistemas del avión y motores (podría haber sido un mecánico FAA A/P) y, como muchos operadores lo tienen como copiloto calificado.


Measurement 727-100 727-200
Max seating capacity 149 189
Cockpit crew Three
Length 133 ft 2 in (40.6 m) 153 ft 2 in (46.7 m)
Span 108 ft (32.9 m)
Height 34 ft (10.3 m)
Zero fuel weight 100,000 lb (45,360 kg)
Maximum take-off weight 169,000 lb (76,818 kg) 209,500 lb (95,028 kg)
Maximum landing weight 137,500 lb (62,400 kg) 161,000 lb (73,100 kg)
Take-off runway length
(at 148,000 lb)
5,800 ft (1,768 m)
Landing runway length
(at max landing wt)
4,800 ft (1,463 m) 5,080 ft (1,585 m)
Cruising speed .81 Mach
Maximum speed .90 Mach
Range fully loaded 2700 NM (5000 km) 2400 NM (4450 km)
Max. fuel capacity 8,186 US gal (31,000 L) 9,806 US gal (37,020 L)
Engines (3x) P&W JT8D-7, -17R&S

Sources: Boeing 727 Specifications,[9] Boeing 727 Airport report[10]

Orders and deliveries[]

File:B727 Orders Deliveries.jpg

 1983   1982   1981   1980   1979   1978   1977   1976   1975   1974   1973   1972 
1 11 38 68 98 125 133 113 50 88 92 119
 1971   1970   1969   1968   1967   1966   1965   1964   1963   1962   1961   1960 
26 48 64 66 125 149 187 83 20 10 37 80
 1984   1983   1982   1981   1980   1979   1978   1977   1976   1975   1974   1973 
8 11 26 94 131 136 118 67 61 91 91 92
 1972   1971   1970   1969   1968   1967   1966   1965   1964   1963   1962   1961 
41 33 55 114 160 155 135 111 95 6 0 0

External links[]