The Boeing 727 is a mid-size, narrow-body, three-engine, T-tailed commercial jet airliner. The 727's fuselage has an outer diameter of 148 inches (3.8 m). This allows six-abreast seating (three per side) and a single central access walkway when 18 inches (46 cm) wide coach-class 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 stable mate, the Boeing 737. In August 2008, there were a total of 81 Boeing 727-100 aircraft and 419 727-200 aircraft in airline service.
Design and development
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. In other words, a bus stop jet service, providing a service in short hops which would appeal to a large commercial passenger market.
United Airlines wanted a four-engine aircraft for its flights to high-altitude airports, especially its hub at Stapleton International Airport in Denver, Colorado. American, which was operating the four-engine Boeing 707 and 720, wanted a twin-engine aircraft for efficiency reasons. Eastern wanted a third engine for its overwater flights to the Caribbean, since at that time twin-engine commercial flights were limited by regulations to routes with 60-minute maximum flying time to an airport.
Known as (ETOPS) extended twin engine operations, otherwise known amongst the aviation fraternity as Engines Turning Or People Swim, this regulation was a limiting factor in many operations at that time. 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. 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 such a reliable and versatile airliner that it came to form the core of many start-up airlines' fleets. 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 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 nose gear 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 air stair that opens from the rear underbelly of the fuselage. D. B. Cooper, a 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 air stair 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. In fact, starting one engine from the bleed air supply from the APU meant that the other two could be started off the first engine if required, making the aircraft totally self sufficient and independent of any ground support equipment at all.
The 727 can also back itself up, thus not requiring the push-back tractor needed for most other jet airliners to leave an airport gate. This practice proved extremely hazardous at times, and I took part in trials of this procedure in the 1970’s but flying particles of ice and other debris stirred up by using reverse thrust from the departure gate did a lot of damage if not careful, and it was abandoned by my airline employer as too dangerous. The 727 is also equipped with a retractable tail skid which is designed to protect the aircraft in the event of an over-rotation on takeoff.
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:
QC stands for Quick Change. This is similar to the Convertible version with a roller-bearing floor for palletized 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.
The stretched version of the 727-100. The -200 is 20 feet (6.1 m) longer (153 feet, 2 inches, 46.7 m) than the -100 (133 feet, 2 inches, 40.6 m). A ten foot (3 m) 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 (33 m) and 34 feet (10 m), respectively). The gross weight was increased from 169,000 to 209,500 pounds (77,000 to 95,000 kg).
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.
MTOW and range increased. Also, Cabin improvements
All freight version of the 727-200.
Speed increased by 50 mph (80 km/h), 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.
Installation and Documentation
Installation is as easy as downloading from www.captainsim.com and paying the appropriate fee. The amount of material and aircraft variations you get is outstanding, and in my opinion worth every penny. Note that the whole process of obtaining the 727 Captain series is by download via the internet, and no CD is provided. Euros will produce the same numbers (£1 = 1 Euro) and Dollars, either Australian or US can be quickly calculated, but you will get value for money in any currency.
The Documentation comes in three fairly hefty tomes that can be downloaded from the aforementioned Captainsim site, and then printed, but make for lengthy and very interesting reading, crammed with detail on the basic loading detail, then a complete volume on the aircraft and its systems, obviously built from the Boeing Manual, and then a third manual on the operations of the aircraft.
An operators dream, and complete with printable check lists and “Captain-Co-pilot” response lists, the realism is as good as it gets, and that’s even before climbing into the spacious cockpit complete with Flight Engineers panels.
There is no point in me detailing any of the instruments or their operation, the manual is very clear on the function and understanding of each item, suffice to say that if you are familiar with Boeing aircraft then this aircraft follows the normal pattern, with innovations that applied in the days of the 727, and if you are not familiar then you are in for a very good read, and will become very knowledgeable at the end of it all, and will be able to operate this aircraft all over the computer world provided by FSX with very satisfying results.
The Exterior Model 727-100
The exterior model of all four versions is superb, with every detail of the real thing superbly replicated, and this is demonstrated by these views of the “100” series 727.
Exterior of 727-200
Exterior of 727-Freighter
Interior of 727-Freighter
The cockpit or Flight Deck is superbly detailed, and is a very accurate reproduction of any well worn, much used Boeing 727 Aircraft. A full instrument suite is laid out exactly as the 727 would be, and the Flight Engineers panel is a very worthy addition and is also constructed in every respect in line with the real thing.
The Engines, which are basically Pratt and Whitney designed P&W JT8D-7, -17R&S are well engineered by the sound team to sound realistic, and noisy, which of course they still are, unless re-engineered as United Parcel Services are, with a fresh installation of Rolls Royce Tay engines, but the JT8D is well noted for its noisy and smoky operation, and the 727 does well to demonstrate this to great effect.
Starting up the JT8D is as per the manual, and no nasty surprises, typically Pratt and Whitney from throttle to engine, so follow the procedure and each engine will start easily and consistently, without big flames leaping out of the back end, and will run up to ground idle very smartly.
Winding up the engines to take off power is also straightforward, with no vices, and the thrust will pick up quite nicely to provide a nice V1 airspeed for rotation well within limits, the only considerations as always being wind, weather overall and aircraft weight for the actual airfield length, as well as correct take-off configuration, but all that will come with using the simulation, and what a good simulation it is.
And so finally we get to climb the air stairs, turn left at the front door, and walk into the Boeing 727 flight deck. We know what it looks like, and we know how to get things moving, so let’s get everyone on board, file the flight plan, call up ATC and go flying.
What do you mean; this is a freighter, so no passengers. Oh, OK, well so long as someone can feed me and give me coffee, I will have my crew for company. Oh, Stewardess, could I have a flat white coffee before the cockpit door gets locked, and we will be on our way. Thank you.
Running up the engines is good, and taxiing out feels great, brakes are responsive, flying controls feel and look good, flaps operate exactly as the book says, and lining up with everything in the right position feels right. Steering on the ground is easy, so now we get to fly..........
Taking off is very smooth, gear up after safety speed is reached is also normal, and climbing out and settling onto a course for transit to cruise is also very nicely executed, if not a bit busy, but it is a three engine tri jet after all, and the instruments need to be checked carefully, although the warnings are very good.
Stalling the aircraft is pretty much on the button, clean or dirty, and being as all the engine weight is at the back end, trimming the aircraft is essential but not tricky, and approach feels really good, a bit nose up compared to other aircraft but not uncomfortable, in fact Boeing did well with the design here, and the 727 is an all rounder in performance given its age.
Flying this aircraft on any route at altitude is comfortable, bearing in mind there is no auto throttle, so power settings are a matter of monitoring the thrust levers, and descent is no problem at all. In fact this aircraft is really nice to fly, in every respect, and external views give nice clean lines, the T-tail design gives good response in pitch, and roll is well catered for at low or high speeds.
Nice sturdy undercarriage with a steering control on the ground rounds off the Boeing 727 very well, and the provision of a hydraulically operated tail skid on the 200’s just in case of over-rotation is a nice protection thought, and will crush up to protect the aft fuselage and pressure dome area if the pilot gets too exuberant during the rotation cycle.
Summary / Closing Remarks
Easy to download, a huge choice of liveries (300) Wow! and plenty of examples of 100 series, 200 series and Freighters for everyone, makes this a must have for Boeing classic passenger transport enthusiasts, and anyone else who appreciates a sturdy and popular Boeing product of the late 1960’s, a follow on from the Boeing 707 and a worthy hangar mate to any airliner transport fleet.
Reviewer’s personal note - I have been out of the loop for a bit whilst transitioning from a French way of life to re-establishing a home in the UK, and if anyone missed my reviews then I am very pleased to announce I am back. My next Review will be with my new computer system, and hopefully will be as good as all my others, if not better.
What I Like About The 727 Captain
What I Don't Like About The 727 Captain
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