Developing the Boeing 727

With the first commercial jet to smash the 1,000 - unit milestone about to celebrate 60 years since its initial roll-out, Sergio Goncalves explores the pioneering development that led to the Boeing trijet

Boeing began technical studies of its 727 in the trijet form at the end of 1959. One of the goals of the new aircraft was better and safer performance at airports, enabling it to operate in many locations around the world and taking passengers to places previously served by older piston-powered types. This required the jet to be equipped with new technologies, devices and systems that could guarantee a high rate of climb and descent, enabling several short or medium stages to be completed efficiently and economically.

A United Airlines Boeing 727-200 banks into a turn over snow-capped mountains
MUSEUM OF FLIGHT/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES

The Boeing 727, as intended by project leader Jack Steiner’s team (see panel), would use the same front fuselage and cabin section as the Boeing 707, but since it was designed for use at smaller airports, it would have an entirely different structure from wing to tail.

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