Designed as a medium range, large capacity three engined airliner - the Boeing 727 was announced at the end of 1960. The aircraft first flew on February 9, 1963 (N7001U built for United Airlines). The initial -100 version powered by P&W JT8D engines seated up to 139 passengers. The fuselage cross-section was the same as the larger 707, and the wing had flaps and slots to allow shorter field access. A convertible cargo-passenger version, the 727C, was released in 1964, and a QC version in 1966. The -200 introduced in 1967 had a 6.15m (20ft) longer fuselage allowing a 189 passenger capacity, and uprated engines giving 4000km range (1280km over the -100). Further improvements (allowing 50% extra range) were introduced with the -200 Advanced (powered by P&W JT8D-15) which flew in 1972. A freight only version was also produced. Production ceased in August, 1984 (with N217FE built for Federal Express) with 1,831 aircraft completed, making the aircraft Boeings best-seller at that time (it has subsequently been overtaken by the 737). Subsequently some aircraft have been re-engined to improve efficiency and reduce noise levels.
In the late 1970's the New Zealand Government recognised the need to reduce the load on the RNZAF's C-130's. After considering various alternatives (including using Air New Zealand 737's), the purchase of three ex-United Airlines Boeing 727's was announced in 1981 (at a cost of NZ$15 million). The aircraft are 1968 vintage 727-22QC models. Two of the aircraft NZ7271 (c/n19892 ex N7435U) and NZ7272 (c/n19895, ex N7438U) joined No40 SQN, and the third, NZ7273 (c/n19893 ex N7436U), was placed in storage at RNZAF Woodbourne as a spares source. NZ7273 was subsequently written off and broken up in June 1984.
The 727 aircraft were primarily utilised for long range transport and in the VIP role. They had a combi freight door, strengthened floors, and quick change seating for up to 126 passengers providing flexibility. In its standard configuration the aircraft carried 108 passengers, although in passenger only mode this could be increased to 126, or reduced to 52 for VIP flights. Up to eight cargo pallets could be carried on a straight freight flight. The aircraft provided a regular shuttle to Singapore until New Zealand troops were withdrawn, and travelled all over the globe in New Zealand service. Later international operations include support for NZ forces in East Timor, and uplifting civilians from the Solomon Islands during the coup in June 2000. In the final years the aircraft suffered a number of breakdowns, some of which attracted considerable publicity due to high profile passengers (like the Prime Minister). Despite their age, the aircraft were popular with their crews. Air show participation allowed the pilots to display the aircraft's agility and performance.
The withdrawal of the type from RNZAF service commenced in early April 2003 with the arrival of the first of two 757-2K2 aircraft as replacements. NZ7272 was flown to Christchurch where work was undertaken by Air New Zealand Engineering services to seal the aircraft for storage. After a final flight on April 7, the aircraft was parked up on the Operation Deep Freeze apron. The final public display flight was flown by NZ7271 at Omaka for the Classic Fighters airshow on April 20, 2003. The aircraft then participated in ANZAC Day flypasts in company with a 40 Squadron C-130. On April 26 the aircraft made a farewell flypast of a number of localities (and this was not without incident, having to land at Ohakea after a birdstrike). NZ7271 was then withdrawn after the arrival of the second 757 and also flown to Christchurch. On July 11, 2003 it was also laid up on the Operation Deep Freeze apron. On August 25 NZ7272 was taken out of storage and flown to Woodbourne where the engines were removed, and the aircraft was redesignated for use as a training aid.
Last Text Update:- 12 August, 2004
Last Photo Update:- 28 June, 2000
The data is for the 727-200
© 1998-2004 Phillip Treweek, all rights reserved