Thursday, February 28, 2013

Shot of the Day

The old and the new:  The B727 once was a favorite short- to mid-range jetliner. Many of those routes are now flown with CRJs.


  1. The B727 also had a decent amount of seating space so you were able to be comfortable in it. Those crappy little jungle jets seating reminds me of back to school nights where you sit in your kids chairs and listen to how wonderful they are.

  2. That's the second private 727 you shot after
    the Peter Nygärd in the post about the two F-18s
    Both are registered in the Bahamas, but what attracts my attention is that both have outboard JT8D-200s. Yet, they both are short-bodied -100s versions. Their take-off performance must be impressive!

    1. We still see a few B727s at LAX, but not many. The ones we do get are almost exclusively charters or corporate, and there are several that pass through on a semi-regular basis. The last commercial B727 I can remember here was FedEx, but they're phasing out the B727s as they get their B757s online. The registration I believe is actually Bermuda, and I suspect it's a tax thing, as the aircraft is registered to Malibu Consulting and flies out of Van Nuys. Bermuda is a popular tax haven location for corporations. This particular aircraft started life with Pan Am.

      The Super 27 is a mod that swaps the outboard engines for engines from an MD80; several of the B727s we see have been modified this way. The center engine remains the same, as the larger MD80 engine won't fit in the tail without a prohibitive amount of re-engineering.

      The B727s are being driven out of service by a triumvirate of forces: Noise regulations, Fuel costs, and the requirement for a flight engineer. However, like the DC-3, I believe there will be a place for a few B727s to keep working for some time to come.

    2. You are correct on the register. I checked on the page
      and while I noticed the column title _Old prefix_, I did not think to check further down.
      Both 727s we are discussing also have winglets, I think that was a separate mod.
      There was another modification that did involve the removal of the center engine, for that one they used the Rolls Royce Tay.
      Quite shocking how 1800+ aircraft can disappear from use, but the real surprise to me is how the 737 Classic is allready going, too!
      What aircraft is the oldest regular visitor to LAX?

    3. I've heard of a mod that removes the center engine, but I've never seen one. And why bother anyway? There's already a twin-tail-mounted-engine airliner: it's called the DC-9/MD80 - and that aircraft family doesn't require a 3-man crew either. As far as I know, nobody's ever developed a mod for the B727 that eliminates the flight engineer, although FedEx did develop a similar mod for their DC-10s (and those airplanes, like the B727s, are heading for the boneyards - we had one leave LAX just a couple of weeks ago). There actually is one argument for the B727 over the DC-9: the Boeing's fuselage has a larger cross-section, and can handle standard cargo containers. I ran across this big PDF marketing the Super 27:

      The old B737s have disappeared even faster than the B727s. I can't recall the last "straight-pipe" to put in an appearance at LAX; it's been a couple of years. I imagine part of the problem for those aircraft is that there isn't as much room beneath the wings to mount larger (read quieter) engines, unlike the tail-mounted installation on the B727. The B737 Classic series (-300/-400/-500) are still around, though they're definitely being replaced by the newer B737 Next Generation series and A320-series Airbuses (and, in some markets, CRJ9s and E190s/E195s). As I write this, Southwest still brings in B733s and B735s, and Alaska still has B734s. We also see Classic-series B737s on the GA ramp, as they are used for corporate and charter work.

      The award for the oldest regular aircraft probably goes to the 1955 Convair 5800 that I showed in the Presidents Day post:

      Honorable mention for a visitor would probably go to John Travolta's B720, which appears here a few times a year.

    4. I forgot to mention that the last scheduled operator of straight-pipe B737s at LAX was the Mexican airline Aviacsa, who disappeared from LAX in (I think) 2007. Aviacsa had three 120-seat B737-200s, which (according to Wikipedia) replaced B727-200s.

  3. I think the Rolls Royce Tay re-engining was done in-house by UPS, I beleive the only operator of this version.
    The wikipedia article about the Rolls-Royce Tay mentions only one other (private) aircraft
    was converted.
    The main problem with this programme is that it only covered the 727-100. The Boeing 727-200 needed more thrust.
    A great discussion about this re-engining, including the problem of the center duct here:

    I thought there was a two-man cockpit mod for the Boeing 707 ... Actually, the military
    E-3 version flown by NATO out of Geilenkirchen ( GKE/ETNG ). The NATO unit there also operated a few ex-civilian Boeing 707-320 to keep pilots current doing circuits and bumps, without bringing out the billion dollar AWACS planes. I remember reading somewhere that these aircraft had been replaced with a Boeing 737NG, because the renewed cockpits of the AWACS were similar. My memory must be playing tricks, because I can't find anything about it.

    Googling around, however, I did find a new program called DRAGON.

    The Boeing 707 TCA aicraft were retired, however. See the comment here
    and others at that date

    Once, cockpit upgrades were a big industry, caused by ATC innovations like GPS, RVSM, FANS and RNP, and also seeking the savings of the elimination of the flight engineer position. However, my impression is that few of the proposed programmes came to fruition. The Fedex MD-10 programme is the only one of note. I believe there was also a two-man cockpit offered on the 747 Classic, with very low take-up ( a government/VVIP 747SP in the Gulf )

    Major military upgrades were the Pacer CRAG programme for the KC-135, and the AMP for the C-5. They were forced by the proclivity of the government of keeping 40+ year old aircraft in operation, and changes in the civilian ATC. These kept the flight engineer position.

    In the civilian world, most of the candidate aircraft also had other economic viability issues. When you then add the fact that major airliner manufacturers practically gave away aircraft ( remember the Michael O'Leary quote: "We raped them" ), it was cheaper to send the older planes to desert boneyards.

    The 737 Jurassic seems to soldier on in Mexico as a freighter.

    My posting seems to have become a lot longer than intended!

    All the best,


    1. Any discussion of long-on-the-tooth military aircraft would have to include the B-52, which has been around for longer than most of the crews now flying the type. There aren't that many left flying at this point, I believe less than a hundred, but they're expected to remain in service for some time to come. There have been several upgrade programs for the Buff, so by now they must be upgrading the upgrades.

      I have seen Jurassic B737s from Mexico on Ebay, offered for peanuts. Don't know where an old airplane goes after Mexico, but there are bound to still be a few places in the world that can provide a home for them.