Italy - Air Force
The Boeing 707 is a four engined, commercial passenger jet aircraft developed
by Boeing in the early 1950s. Although it was not the first commercial jet
airliner in service (that distinction belongs to the De Havilland Comet),
it was the first to be commercially successful and is credited by many as
ushering in the "Jet Age" as well as being the first of Boeing's 7x7 range
The 707 was based on a prototype Boeing aircraft known as the Boeing 367-80.
The "Dash 80," as it was called within Boeing, cost $16 million to develop and
took less than two years from project launch in 1952, to rollout on May 14, 1954.
The prototype was the basis for both the KC-135 air tanker used by the
United States Air Force, and the 707. To enable the fitting of six abreast
seats, the 707's fuselage was widened by 6 inches (150 mm) compared to the
Pan Am was the first airline to operate the 707 and the aircraft's first commercial
flight was from New York to Paris on October 26, 1958. American Airlines
operated the first transcontinental 707 flight on January 25, 1959. Many other
airlines followed and the 707 quickly became the most popular jetliner of its
time, edging out its main competitor, the Douglas DC-8.
As the 1960s drew to a close the exponential growth in air travel led to the
707 being a victim of its own success. It had become obvious that the 707 was
now too small to handle the passenger densities on the routes for which it was
designed. Stretching the fuselage was not a viable option because the 707's
limited ground clearance made the installation of a larger undercarriage almost
impossible. Boeing's answer to the problem was the first twin aisle
airliner, the 747. The 707's first generation engine technology was also
rapidly becoming obsolete in the areas of noise and fuel economy.
Production of the passenger 707 ended in 1978, with the 767 acting as its partial
replacement. In total 1,010 707s were built for civil use. The military
versions remained in production until 1991.
Traces of the 707 are still in many of Boeing's current products, most notably
the 737, which uses a modified version of the 707 fuselage. In fact, if the
707 were still in production it would have probably evolved into what is now
the 737-900 which is arguably a modernized 707 with two turbofan, high bypass
ratio engines replacing the original four turbojet engines. Interestingly, the
Chinese government sponsored development of the Shanghai Y-10 during the 1970s
which was a near carbon copy of the 707.
The original 707, the 707-120, was designed for transcontinental routes and
often required a refuelling stop when used on the North Atlantic route. It
was originally fitted with four Pratt and Whitney JT3C turbojets, civilian
versions of the military J57 model. The later -120B version used JT3D turbofans
which were quieter, more powerful, and more fuel efficient.
The 707-220, also designated 707-227, was a 707-120 airframe fitted with more
powerful JT4A turbojets for hot and high operations on Braniff International's
South American routes. Only 5 of these were built due to extremely high fuel
consumption. This mark was rendered redundant by the arrival of the turbofan.
The later 707-320 and 707-420 models had larger wings, heavier weight, and more
fuel capacity to operate as true transoceanic aircraft. The original -320
version came equipped with JT4A turbojets, while the -320B version came with
JT3D turbofans. The -320C, also turbofan engined, had a large cargo door
allowing it to serve as a dual purpose transport aircraft. The -420 version,
produced originally for BOAC, was powered by Rolls-Royce Conway engines.
The 707-700 was a one off test aircraft used to study the feasibility of using
CFM International CFM56 powerplants on a 707 airframe and possibly retrofitting
them to existing aircraft. After testing in 1979, N707QT, the last commercial
707 airframe, was refitted to 707-320C configuration and delivered to the
Moroccan Air Force as a tanker aircraft. This purchase was considered a
civilian order and not a military one. Boeing abandoned the program since they
felt it would be a threat to the Boeing 757 program.
The information gathered in the test led to the eventual retrofitting program
of CFM-56 engines to the USAF C-135/KC-135R models. Ironically the Douglas DC-8
"Super 70" series by Cammacorp did develop commercially, extending the life
of DC-8 airframes in a stricter noise regulatory environment so there are today
more DC-8s in commercial service than 707s.
The Boeing 720, originally designated 707-020 but later changed for marketing
reasons, was a modification of the 707-120 designed for medium range operation
from shorter runways. It was lighter and faster than the Boeing 707 and had a
simplified wing design. This model had relatively few sales but was still
profitable due to the minimal R&D costs associated with modifying an existing
type. At one point in the promotion stage to airlines it was known as the 717.
It was used before the Boeing 727 replaced it in the market.
Although 707s are no longer employed by major US airlines, many can still be
found in service with smaller, non-US airlines, charter services, and air cargo
The first two aircraft built to serve as Air Force One were custom built
Boeing 707s. These were also used by high ranking federal officials on official
trips. Many other countries use the 707 as a VIP transport including Argentina,
Brazil, Chile, the Republic of Congo, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jordan,
Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Venezuela.
The U.S. and other NATO aligned countries, as well as South Africa and Israel,
have used the 707 platform for aerial refueling (KC-135) and AWACS (E-3 Sentry)
although many of these aircraft are now being phased out. The 707 is also the
platform for the United States Air Force's Joint STARS project and the United
States Navy's E-6 Mercury.
American actor John Travolta owns, and is qualified to fly, an ex-Qantas 707-138,
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Beoing 707".