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The 727 was designed to service smaller airports with shorter runways than those used by the 707s. Of all the early Boeing jets, the 727 had the most distinctive appearance, with its rakish T-shaped tail and its trio of rear-mounted engines. It carried billions of passengers on everything from short hops to cross-country flights.

The 727 was the first Boeing jetliner to undergo rigorous fatigue testing, the first to have completely powered flight controls, the first to use triple-slotted flaps and the first to have an auxiliary power unit (APU). The APU was a small gas turbine engine that eliminated the need for ground power or starting equipment in the more primitive airports of developing countries.

The first 727 rolled out Nov. 27, 1962, bearing the same lemon-yellow and copper-brown color scheme as the Dash 80. However, by the time of its first flight, orders were still below the estimated break-even point of 200. To help spur sales, Boeing sent a 727 on a 76,000-mile tour of 26 countries.

Originally, Boeing planned to build 250 of the planes. However, after being shown to the world, they proved so popular (especially after the larger 727-200 model, which carried up to 189 passengers, was introduced) that a total of 1,832 were produced at the Renton, Wash., plant. Variants included a convertible passenger-cargo model with a Quick Change (QC) option -- seats and galleys attached to removable pallets.


First flight:

Feb. 9, 1963

Model number:



Commercial transport


108 feet


133 feet 2 inches

Gross weight:

170,000 pounds

Top speed:

632 mph

Cruising speed:

570 mph


3,110 miles


36,100 feet


Three 14,000-pound-thrust P&W engines


131 passengers