Boeing began working on a short to medium-range aircraft smaller than the Boeing 720 and with better economics in the 1950s. The design drew heavily on 707/720 equipment and components, most notably the upper fuselage structure, but the selection of a rear-mounted engine configuration necessitated the complete redesign both of the wing, which featured new triple-slotted trailing-edge flaps and retractable leading-edge slats, and the tail section. Boeing’s initial market forecast was for 250 727s, but over the 20 year production run the company went on to sell more than seven times that number. By the time production ended in 1984, the 727 had become the most successful jetliner ever built.
Although the number of active 727s continues to fall there are still more than 50 flying and the type is proving particularly tenacious in South America. Large numbers were donated by Fedex (and other carriers) for use as engineering trainers, but these too are approaching the ends of their useful lives with a small number having already been broken up.
First flight: 9 Feb 63 (c/n 18293, N7001U)
Production: 1,832, at Renton, WA.
First delivery: 29 Oct 63, to United Airlines (c/n 18296, N7004U)
Last delivery: 18 Sep 84, to Federal Express (c/n 22938, N217FE)
Variants: 727-100 - initial production version powered by 3 Pratt & Whitney JT8D-1 turbofans, with seating for up to 129 passengers (408 built) (the 727-100 designation was applied retrospectively, when the -200 was introduced);
727-100C - convertible cargo-passenger version of 727-100 with side cargo door and increased gross weight (164 built);
727-200 - stretched-fuselage version of 727-100 with accommodation for up to 189 passengers; engines were initially JT8D-9s, but JT8D-17s were fitted to later models marketed as Advanced 727-200 (1,245 built, first flight 27 Jul 67);
727-200F - all-cargo version with side cargo door for Federal Express (15 built).
Conversions. A number of conversion programmes have been offered to allow the 727 to meet US Stage 3 noise legislation, including: Super 27 (shown as S27 in the list of survivors) – conceived by Valsan and later marketed by Goodrich, the 2 outboard engines were replaced by high-bypass JT8D-217Cs, acoustic treatment added to third engine and thrust reversers deleted, giving improved take-off performance and longer range; 727 Quiet Wing System (QWS) – conceived by DuganAir Technologies, involving the installation of a new outer wing, winglets and other aerodynamic wing enhancements; Stage 3 Noise Reduction Kits – by Raisbeck Engineering (Rhk); 727-100QF – conceived by Dee Howard for UPS, all three engines were replaced by Rolls-Royce Tay 651-54s. Additional conversions have included many 727s to all-cargo configuration and the addition of winglets to increase performance.