A medium-range trijet airliner produced by Boeing from 1962 until 1984.
The Boeing 727 is a medium-range narrowbodied jetliner formerly produced by boeing; when production started in 1962, it became Boeing's third-ever jetliner (after the boeing-707 and boeing-720), making its first flight in February 1963 and entering commercial airline service just under a year later, on 1 February 1964 with Eastern Air Lines. The last 727 rolled off the assembly line in 1984, 22 years and 1,832 aircraft after the start of production.
The 727, unlike the 707 and 720, had all of its engines mounted on or in the tail of the aircraft (a first for a Boeing jetliner), necessitating the use of a t-tail to make room for those engines (another Boeing first), of which it had only three, rather than four (yet another design element unprecedented in the Boeing jetliner department). Of those three Pratt & Whitney JT8D turbofans (the 727 was the first-ever aircraft to make use of same), two occupied pods on the sides of the aft fuselage, while the third was mounted in the tailcone itself and fed via an s-duct. The placement of all those engines at the tail, rather than under (or in) the wings, freed up the entire length of said wings for the extensive system of flaps and slats which gave the 727 unprecedented (at the time) takeoff performance for a jetliner and allowed it to operate from smaller airports which had previously been off-limits to jets, opening up far more of the United States, and the world, to jet service. The 727's high-mounted engines (greatly reducing the risk of foreign-object-damage when operating from rough, unpaved runways), along with its ability to carry passengers and cargo simultaneously in what is known as a "combi" (short for "combination") arrangment, also made it invaluable to airlines serving remote regions (such as large areas of northern canada), where it served as a lifeline linking these communities to the world at large.
The 727 came in two main families:
- The original 727 (retroactively designated the "727-100" family) was the shorter of the two, of which 572 were produced from 1962 to 1972; 571 were delivered to various customers, while Boeing kept a single 727-100 for themselves. 407 of the delivered 727s were the vanilla passenger version, while the remainder were convertible aircraft which could operate in one of three ways: in a pure passenger configuration, in a pure cargo configuration, or as a "combi" aircraft carrying both passengers and freight.
- The remaining 1,260 727s belonged to the longer 727-200 series, which first flew in 1967 and entered service later that year. The first 310 of these, built between 1965 and 1972, were built to the vanilla 727-200 standard, which then gave way to the 727-200 Advanced, whose more powerful engines and greater fuel capacity increased its range by almost a third compared with the vanilla 727-200 without sacrificing any passenger or cargo capacity. The first Advanced was laid down in 1970 and delivered two years later; a total of 935 were built up until the final passenger 727 rolled off the assembly line in 1981. The last fifteen 727-200s fell under the 727-200F Advanced classification, a dedicated freighter variant built especially for FedEx; they were built in 1981 and 1982, after which the 727 production line fell silent forever.
Although still a mainstay of passenger air travel at the beginning of the 21st century, the high noise production and fuel consumption of the 727's JT8D engines had already caused many airlines to phase it out of their fleets, and rising fuel and aircraft-maintenance costs, coupled with yet-stricter noise caps around busy airports, have since driven it to near-extinction. The last two 727s used for scheduled passenger service, a pair of -200s in Iran (where old aircraft tend to hang on in service for much longer than elsewhere, as crippling economic sanctions on the country make it very difficult to acquire new planes), were retired in January 2019, while a motley 42 (two 727-100s and 40 727-200s) continue to haul cargo for various operators around the globe.
See Wikipedia for more information about the 727.