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CFM56 – History And Future Of The Go-Anywhere Engine
What do some airliners, two bombers, a spy plane, some fighter jets and a supersonic business jet have in common? They all use engines that have a strong family connection. The CFM56 is part of this rich and somewhat unlikely history. This engine is the most common turbofan engine in the world today. And this is amazing, considering that the partnership that made it happen, almost failed immediately!
CFM is the result of a collaboration between two companies: General Electric (GE) and Safran. Back when this collaboration started, Safran was called Snecma. Snecma had a lot of engine experience, but it was mostly military. GE had commercial experience, but not in the so-called “ten-ton” engine market. Legend has it that the bosses of the two companies got to chatting in the 1971 Paris Air Show. And thus, the history of the CFM56 began.
The two companies got together, because they shared a problem. The name of that problem is “Pratt & Whitney.” Trying to unseat P&W from its dominant commercial position was a common goal. But the partners needed a starting point. The history of the CFM56 almost began with the CF6. This was a successful family of engines, that powered many jets including the 747, DC-10 and Airbus A300. But it was getting a bit old, at that time.
Timeline: 50 Years of Economic Change and Manufacturing Progress
To celebrate ASSEMBLY magazine's golden anniversary, here's a year-by-year look at how things have changed, evolved and stayed the same over the last 50 years. The timeline focuses on engineering achievements, business trends and manufacturing milestones.
A tiny device that enables today’s readers to peruse the contents of ASSEMBLY via a laptop computer while flying at 40,000 feet, the integrated circuit, had just been invented by an obscure engineer in Texas.
Speaking of flying, jet aircraft were a relatively new phenomenon. Fifty years ago, most people still traveled by train in the U.S. they traveled by ocean liner when crossing the Atlantic or Pacific. But, history was made on Oct. 26, 1958, when Pan Am flew a new Boeing 707 jetliner from New York to Paris. The transatlantic flight only took a little more than 6 hours, which was two-thirds as long as the same trip via a traditional piston-powered plane. A new phrase, “the jet set,” was coined.
In 1958, only 8 percent of all cars sold in the United States were imports. But, that year, a small Japanese automaker sold its first vehicle in California. Toyota was virtually unknown outside the Far East. Although it had only been making cars for 20 years, the company subscribed to a unique production philosophy that emphasized continuous improvement and waste elimination.
The upstart company sold 288 Toyopet sedans to American consumers in 1958. By comparison, General Motors produced 2.1 million cars in the U.S. that year, which accounted for 51 percent of the entire market. By 1980, Japanese automakers would command 30 percent of the U.S. market. This year, Toyota is on track to pass GM and become the world’s No. 1 automaker.
Here’s a year-by-year look at how things have changed, evolved and even stayed the same over the last 50 years. It focuses on engineering achievements, business trends and manufacturing milestones. Because of space restrictions, it does not include references to sporting events, natural disasters and some other events normally associated with historical timelines.
*”Assembly & Fastener Engineering” magazine debuts with 104 pages.
*The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is created.
*Jack Kilby, an engineer at Texas Instruments, demonstrates the world’s first integrated circuit.
*The Hula Hoop, made from a new-fangled material called polyethylene, is introduced and quickly becomes a nationwide craze.
*Ford and General Motors unveil rocket-styled concept cars.
*Forrest Bird begins mass-producing the world’s first respirator.
*The first optical laser is invented.
*Bank America unveils the BankAmericard (known today as Visa).
*The “Hawaiian Merchant” leaves San Francisco bound for Honolulu with 75 shipping containers on her deck, a new concept that would soon revolutionize global trade.
*The Mackinac Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge, opens in northern Michigan.
*Brussels, Belgium, hosts a world’s fair that celebrates the atom and the nuclear age.
*Alaska becomes the 49th state.
*Hawaii becomes the 50th state.
*New York City considers becoming the 51st state.
*The first “Barbie” doll is mass-produced by Mattel.
*The St. Lawrence Seaway opens, allowing ocean-going ships to reach the Midwest.
*The first cylindrical robot, “Versatran,” is marketed for industrial applications.
*Pentel introduces the felt-tip pen.
*A U.S. patent is issued for ultrasonic metal welding.
*The Big 3 begin selling small cars, such as the Chevrolet Corvair, the Ford Falcon and the Plymouth Valiant.
*The last mainline steam locomotive in the U.S. pulls a freight train on the Norfolk & Western Railway.
*The world’s first fully automatic production line for transistors is designed by IBM engineers in Poughkeepsie, NY. It produces and tests 1,800 individual transistors an hour.
*The first industrial robot application takes place at a General Motors plant in New Jersey.
*Becton Dickinson unveils the first plastic disposable syringe.
*Through-hole technology is introduced in the electronics industry.
*East Germany erects the Berlin Wall.
*The first “Assembly & Fastener Directory” buyers guide is published.
*John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth.
*The “Telstar” satellite transmits the first TV picture from Europe to the United States.
*President John F. Kennedy promises that America will land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.
*Ultrasonic plastic welding is invented.
*NASA engineers develop battery-powered screwdrivers and impact wrenches for use during space walks.
*The global positioning satellite (GPS) concept is first discussed.
*Caterpillar and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries form a joint-venture.
*The balloon catheter revolutionizes surgical embolectomy procedures.
*The first machine vision patent is issued.
*Ideal Toy Co. becomes the first manufacturer to use ultrasonic plastic welding.
*Touch-tone telephones and cassette tape recorders debut.
*John Deere surpasses International Harvester to become the world’s largest manufacturer of agricultural and industrial equipment.
*Civil rights protests rock the South.
*The U.S. mourns the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
*”Assembly & Fastener Engineering” changes its name to “Assembly Engineering.”
*Ford unveils the Mustang at the New York World’s Fair.
*The Beatles “invade” America.
*Japan begins operating high-speed bullet trains.
*Studebaker-Packard Corp., the last independent automaker in the U.S., goes out of business.
*The first James Bond movie, “Goldfinger,” is released.
*Ralph Nader’s “Unsafe at Any Speed” book attacks the U.S. auto industry.
*8-track cartridges start to appear on car dashboards.
*The Gateway Arch opens in St. Louis.
*Skateboarding becomes popular.
*Chrysler opens a state-of-the-art plant in Belvidere, IL.
*Congress passes the Highway Safety Act, which makes the installation of seat belts in vehicles mandatory.
*Xerox unveils the first fax machine.
*Amana introduces the first compact microwave oven.
*The world’s first ATM is installed in London.
*McDonald’s unveils the Big Mac.
*The first computer mouse is demonstrated.
*Police clash with anti-war protestors in Chicago.
*A major oilfield is discovered in northern Alaska.
*The United Auto Workers (UAW) union pulls out of the AFL-CIO union, citing strategic differences on domestic and foreign policy.
*A futuristic movie called “2001 A Space Odyssey” is released.
*The first PLC is introduced.
*The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stuns the nation.
*Charles Sorensen passes away. The former Ford Motor Co. production chief created the world’s first moving assembly line in 1913.
*Neil Armstrong steps on the moon.
*Boeing unveils the 747 jumbo jet.
*The Anglo-French supersonic “Concorde” airliner takes its maiden flight.
*Congress passes the Child Protection and Toy Safety Act, which calls for more strenuous testing of toys for flammability, toxicity, and electrical and mechanical defects.
*A 4-day music festival is held on a dairy farm in Woodstock, NY.
*General Motors opens a controversial, automated assembly plant in Lordstown, OH.
*The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is created.
*The first Earth Day observation is held.
*DisneyWorld opens in Florida.
*The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) begins conducting random checks on manufacturers.
*Congress passes the Consumer Product Safety Act, which establishes the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
*Texas Instruments unveils the world’s first pocket calculator.
*Phillips unveils the first VCR for home use.
*Chicago’s Sears Tower becomes the world’s tallest building.
*Skylab, the first U.S space station, is launched.
*An oil crisis cripples the U.S. transportation industry.
*The ABACUS II, designed and built by Texas Instruments, becomes the first practical automated production machine for the assembly of integrated circuits.
*”Assembly Engineering” and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers cosponsor the first Assemblex trade show in Arlington Heights, IL.
*The CAT-scan machine is invented.
*The Robotic Industries Association is formed.
*Post-it notes are accidentally invented by a 3M engineer.
*Engineers at AB Volvo implement the world’s first application of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) at the Kalmar, Sweden, plant. The AGVs tilt car bodies 90 degrees to allow operators to ergonomically assemble vehicles.
*Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft link up in space.
*The laser printer is unveiled by IBM for use with mainframe computers.
*Bicentennial fever sweeps across the United States.
*The first laser welding application occurs at a General Motors plant in Dayton, OH.
*Solectron pioneers contract manufacturing.
*American manufacturers begin converting to metric-based mechanical fasteners.
*”Star Wars” is a big hit in movie theatres.
*Unimation creates the PUMA (Programmable Universal Machine for Assembly) robot.
*Volkswagen opens the first foreign auto plant on U.S. soil in New Stanton, PA.
*The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) unveils a six-point Revitalization Agenda designed to combat inflation and reinvigorate U.S. manufacturing.
*Electrolux enters the U.S. appliance market when it acquires Tappan.
*Militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran, and hold 52 people hostage for 444 days.
*Pope John Paul II visits the U.S.
*Renault buys American Motors.
*”Assembly Engineering” inaugurates the annual Assembly Technology Expo in Rosemont, IL.
*The Pac-Man video game is introduced.
*Sony demonstrates the first consumer video camera.
*IBM unveils the first personal computer.
*Lockheed Corp. begins assembling the world’s first mass-produced stealth aircraft, the F117-A Nighthawk. However, the U.S. Air Force does not confirm its existence until 1988.
*The world’s first “portable computer,” the Osborne 1, weighs only 24 pounds.
*The Sony Walkman is designed for ease of assembly using a flexible system.
*NASA launches the first space shuttle mission.
*Honda opens the first Japanese auto plant on U.S. soil in Marysville, OH.
*The first successful artificial heart transplant is performed.
*General Electric invests more than $2 billion in a massive factory automation program aimed at reducing costs and improving quality.
*General Motors and Toyota open a join-venture plant in California called NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.).
*The first commercial cell phone service in the U.S. begins in Chicago.
*Chrysler unveils the first minivan.
*The first expandable stent made out of nitinol is invented.
*Schwinn closes its bicycle factory in Chicago.
*Chrysler opens the auto industry’s first in-line, sequenced assembly line in Windsor, ON.
*AT&T is split up into 7 “Baby Bells.”
*The auto industry celebrates its centennial.
*A gas leak at a chemical plant in Bhopal, India, kills more than 3,000 people.
*The Edison Welding Institute (EWI) is created.
*Canon demonstrates the first commercial digital camera.
*Dell begins assembling made-to-order computers.
*The “Titanic” is found 73 years after it sank in the North Atlantic.
*General Motors opens its groundbreaking Saturn plant in Spring Hill, TN.
*Singer stops manufacturing sewing machines.
*The first Toyota car, a Corolla sedan, is assembled in the U.S.
*The “Challenger” space shuttle explodes.
*A nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Russia, explodes, sending radioactive fallout throughout Europe.
*A movie called “Gung Ho” depicts what happens when a fictional Japanese automaker buys an American factory.
*Motorola develops the Six Sigma process to improve quality and reduce costs.
*General Motors begins assembling front-wheel-drive axles at its Vanguard plant in Saginaw, MI. The controversial “factory of the future” features advanced automation, such as robots and automated guided vehicles. The initial goal is to develop a lights-out factory, but the trendsetting plant closed quietly in 1992.
*Chrysler purchases American Motors.
*The Black Monday stock market crash creates widespread panic on Wall Street.
*Hewlett-Packard begins recycling old computers.
*Caterpillar launches a $1.8 billion plant modernization program to streamline its production processes.
*The International Organization for Standardization enacts ISO 9000 quality standards.
*The first Shingo Prize for manufacturing excellence is awarded.
*Toyota opens its first independent plant in the U.S. in Georgetown, KY, to assemble Camry sedans.
*The Berlin Wall is ripped down.
*Pro-democracy Chinese students protest in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square before military troops move in and slaughter hundreds.
*”Assembly Engineering” changes its name to ASSEMBLY.
*Microsoft launches Windows 3.0 software.
*Nelson Mandela is released after spending 27 years in a South African prison.
*”The Machine That Changed the World” is published and the term “lean manufacturing” is coined.
*Friction stir welding is invented.
*U.S. military forces liberate Kuwait from Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.
*The interstate highway system is completed, 35 years after construction began.
*The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is signed by Canada, Mexico and the United States.
*A brutal civil war rips apart Bosnia.
*ASSEMBLY is acquired by Chilton Publishing Co.
*The first voice-activated TV remote control is unveiled.
*Boeing launches the 777, the first airliner to be developed and preassembled entirely on computers.
*The Netscape Navigator Web browser is launched. It helps popularize the Internet.
*Lockheed Corp. merges with Martin Marietta to create Lockheed Martin.
*Domestic terrorists bomb a federal office building in Oklahoma City.
*The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) celebrates its centennial.
*ASSEMBLY magazine publishes its first Capital Spending study and its first State of the Profession report.
*The “Dilbert” cartoon strip starts to focus on office politics and workplace issues.
*NASA scientists reveal that microscopic structures found on a rock from Mars may have been formed by living creatures.
*ASSEMBLY launches its Web site.
*Boeing acquires McDonnell-Douglas.
*ASSEMBLY is acquired by Cahners Business Information.
*Daimler-Benz and Chrysler merge to form DaimlerChrysler.
*ASSEMBLY publishes a series of forward-looking articles entitled “Assembly 2000.”
*General Motors opens its first joint-venture plant in China.
*The Y2K computer threat creates widespread panic.
*OSHA enacts a comprehensive ergonomics standard.
*Honda unveils the ASIMO humanoid robot.
*The first crew arrives at the International Space Station.
*Toyota unveils the Prius hybrid.
*The closest presidential election in U.S. history ends in controversy.
*American manufacturers begin using "lean" production techniques pioneered in the auto industry.
*ASSEMBLY is acquired by Business News Publishing (known today as BNP Media).
*Lionel closes its last manufacturing plant in the U.S. and outsources toy train assembly to China and Korea.
*Terrorist attacks cripple the United States.
*China officially joins the World Trade Organization (WTO).
*Boeing Commercial Airplanes begins using a moving assembly line in Long Beach, CA, to build the 717 jetliner.
*ASSEMBLY unveils a new logo and new design in its September issue.
*General Motors unveils the first fuel cell, by-wire car.
*Euro banknotes and coins begin circulating in Europe.
*General Motors opens what is hailed as “the most significant auto industry plant in the last 25 years” in Lansing, MI.
*Human cloning becomes a widely debated topic.
*The “Columbia” space shuttle explodes.
*Ford celebrates its centennial and ASSEMBLY publishes a special 32-page supplement to mark the occasion.
*The “Hubble” space telescope discovers the oldest-known planet.
*The U.S. aerospace industry celebrates the centennial of the Wright brother’s first flight.
*ASSEMBLY inaugurates the Assembly Plant of the Year award and the first recipient is Kenworth Truck Co.
*John Deere engineers develop an autonomous tractor prototype.
*Ford’s reborn Rouge plant features the auto industry’s most flexible and environmentally friendly assembly line.
*ASSEMBLY sponsors a session on “Offshore Assembly Challenges and Opportunities” at the 25th annual Assembly Technology Expo in Rosemont, IL.
*Interest in nanotechnology begins to heat up in numerous industries.
*ASSEMBLY stops printing reader service “bingo” cards in each issue.
*Cancer replaces heart disease as the No. 1 cause of death in the United States.
*The Society of Automobile Engineers celebrates its centennial.
*The largest container ship in the world, the “Colombo Express,” is launched. It can carry 8,750 containers.
*Humanoid robots take center stage at the world’s fair in Nagoya, Japan.
*ASSEMBLY publishes its first Chinese edition.
*The first Assembly Technology Expo China is held in Shenzhen.
*A lead-free solder ban takes effect in the electronics industry.
*ASSEMBLY launches its first digital edition and sponsors its first webinar.
*Maytag acquires Whirlpool.
*ASSEMBLY editors start blogging with the AssemblyBlog.
*Toyota passes General Motors to become the No. 1 automaker.
*Boeing unveils the 787 Dreamliner.
*DaimlerChrysler dissolves and both automakers go their separate ways less than 10 years after merging.
*The United Nations reports that telephone service has quadrupled in the past decade to 4 billion lines worldwide.
*General Motors and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union reach a landmark labor settlement. The cost-cutting contract helps narrow the huge competitive gap between domestic automakers and their foreign competitors.
*Flextronics acquires Solectron.
*Construction workers begin to widen the Panama Canal.
*Automakers in China and India begin developing super-low-cost cars aimed at emerging markets.
*"Green" manufacturing becomes popular as companies begin to address sustainability and tackle environmental issues on the plant floor.
Boeing Wind Tunnel Blows Strong for Nearly 70 Years
On Dec. 17, 1947, the 44th anniversary of the Wright brothers' historic first flight of a powered aircraft at Kitty Hawk, N.C., another flight took place at Seattle's Boeing Field that ranks as one of the most important in aviation. Boeing's B-47 Stratojet bomber flew for the first time that day -- and changed the shape of jet aircraft.
The B-47 was America's, and arguably the world's, first large swept-wing jet. Seemingly forgotten in history, the Stratojet's revolutionary design was the first to pair swept wings with jet engines suspended from the wings in podded nacelles. Discovered in the Boeing High Speed Wind Tunnel in 1945, this basic design is still the model for all jets built today by Boeing, Airbus and others. For Boeing, the journey to become the pioneer of large swept-wing jets began in April 1939 when the company hired famed test pilot Edmund T. "Eddie" Allen to head its new Flight and Research organization. A respected scientist, Allen was accorded the freedom to do whatever was necessary to advance Boeing's flight research efforts -- and that included building a private wind tunnel. At the time aircraft manufacturers did not have their own wind tunnels and the fierce competition to use the few operated by NACA (forerunner of NASA) and a handful of universities resulted in Boeing falling behind the competition. Allen championed the idea of a company-owned wind tunnel, capable of near-transonic (approaching the speed of sound) speeds. The estimated cost of $1 million represented a huge risk for Boeing at the time. But it also was a great opportunity, and in August 1941 Boeing President, Phil Johnson authorized construction of a high-speed wind tunnel capable of speeds of Mach .9 (625 mph, or 1,000 kilometers per hour).
The B-47 was the first full design tested in the new wind tunnel. The swept-wing concept had first come to Boeing in May 1945 by way of a letter sent from Germany by the company's leading aerodynamicist, George Schairer, who was serving on Air Force Gen. "Hap" Arnold's Scientific Advisory Group. That group was tasked with securing German aircraft and rocket research. Boeing engineers subsequently saw dramatic results during wind tunnel tests of Schairer's swept-wing data, but they also discovered that the wings had to remain "clean" to achieve the high-speed benefits. And this presented a problem since the standard design for multi-engine airplanes at the time was to mount the engines on the wings. As he puzzled over the problem during a train ride back from Wright Field, Ohio (today known as Wright-Patterson AFB), Boeing Chief Engineer Ed Wells came up with the idea of engine pods mounted off the wings. The concept was tested in the Boeing wind tunnel by mounting model engine nacelles on the end of a pole (the "broomstick" test) and moving the nacelles around the wing until the optimal position was discovered -- forward and below the wing.
These discoveries all came together in the Boeing wind tunnel as the optimal design for a subsonic jet -- and resulted in the revolutionary XB-47 that rolled out of Boeing Plant 2 in September 1947 -- only two years after Schairer sent his note from Germany.
Just as building their own low-speed wind tunnel was critical to the success of the Wright brothers, so too was the wind tunnel key to success for Boeing and the B-47. Improved over the years, the now-transonic wind tunnel has tested some of the best-known airplanes in aviation history and continues its work today with jets such as the 737 MAX. Boeing was fortunate that a leader arrived at the right time to set a course for success by not only pioneering the organization that continues today as Boeing Test & Evaluation but also insisting the company build its own wind tunnel. The Edmund T. Allen Memorial Aeronautical Laboratories are named in his honor.
Boeing Iconic 707
Added by Keith Bradshaw on 18 May 2020
An Air France 707 powers off runway 28R at Heathrow. Photo: Richard Vandervoord
707&hellipthe start of a dynasty
Early days: great Atlantic crossing rivals. An RAF Comet C2 and a Pan Am Boeing 707 share the apron at Heathrow. Photo: RuthAs
The de Havilland Comet was the world&rsquos first jet airliner. The de Havilland Comet 4 was also the world&rsquos first jet airliner to carry fare-paying passengers across the Atlantic. But the de Havilland Comet was not the world&rsquos first jet airliner to become a commercial success. That was the Boeing 707 with 856 being built against 114 Comets. This is the Boeing&rsquos story.
With the Comet first flying in 1949, and with both the Sud Aviation Caravelle and the Tupolev Tu-104 taking to the air in 1955, the USA was being left behind in the jet airliner stakes. In fact Boeing&rsquos last entry into the new airliner market had been the piston-powered Stratocruiser in1947. The company was, however, making jets. It had first flown the B-47 Stratojet, the first jet bomber for the USAF, at the end of 1947. This new military jet would keep Boeing busy until the production of 2,032 aeroplanes finished in 1956. To keep these new bombers constantly in the air, remember this was at the height of the cold war, they needed inflight refuelling, The USAF needed to replace their old B-29-based refuelling tankers with something more modern and Boeing offered them the KC-97 based on the piston engine Stratocruiser airliner.
A retired Boeing B-47 Stratojet at March AFB museum in California. It was this type of aeroplane that gave Strategic Air Command (SAC) its first jet nuclear bomber. Photo: Keith Bradshaw
811 of these new tankers would be delivered before production ceased in 1956, but by that time the B-47 replacement had also flown - the mighty Boeing B-52. It was abundantly clear that the USAF would need to replace their piston engine refuelling fleet with jet power. A pair of small jet engines had been added under the wings of the KC-97s to try and make them faster, to reduce the massive speed differential between the piston tanker and the jet bombers but this was far from ideal.
KC-97 tanker complete with auxiliary jets under its wings. Now at the Museum of the USAF at Dayton Ohio. Photo: Museum of USAF
Boeing had begun studies into a new jet aeroplane to act as a tanker/freighter for the USAF, but there was still no great interest in a jet airliner from the US airlines. The tanker project produced the Boeing 367-80 known as the Dash 80 which first flew in 1954. The design team learned a lot about structures from the investigations of the Comet crashes, so the Dash 80 airframe was very strongly built. The following year the Dash 80 had been asked to fly over a major boat race in Seattle and Boeing had agreed. What they had not agreed however was for test pilot Tex Johnson to perform two barrel rolls with their new jet plane! Just like Roly Falk after rolling the Vulcan at Farnborough he was told not to do it again but it is generally conceded that many a delivery pilot also had a go at a barrel roll! Still officially known as the Dash 80, the new plane was unofficially known throughout the company as the Boeing 707.
The proof of concept Boeing 367-80 soon became known as the Boeing 707. This aeroplane is now displayed at the Smithsonian museum adjacent to Dulles Airport in Washington DC. Photo: Boeing dreamscape
To the uninitiated the new plane looks like the iconic Boeing 707. However it was always only going to be a proof of concept prototype and differed greatly from what was to become Boeing&rsquos first jet airliner. The USAF liked what they saw and in 1955 placed an order for the production version that would be known as the C-135 in its transport role and the KC-135 as the tanker version. The first KC-135 tanker flew in 1956 and Boeing eventually built 803 of them. Today over 60 years later there are still about 550 in service.
The USAF were impressed with the 367-80 and placed an order for the production version to be made as a transport (C-135) and a tanker (KC-135). It&rsquos a version of the latter that is seen here at McDill AFB Florida. Photo: Keith Bradshaw
By the mid to late 1950s US airlines were beginning to think more seriously about jets having seen European jet airliners entering service. Both Douglas and Boeing were developing aeroplanes, Douglas the DC-8 and a year or so ahead of them Boeing with their 367-80. There was however one big advantage for the airlines in ordering the DC-8, it was wider than the Boeing offering and could take six abreast seating whereas the Boeing could only manage five. American and United Airlines both pushed Boeing into making a wider fuselage for their new jet transport and when Pan American also joined the argument Boeing relented and took on a redesign of their proof of concept aeroplane. This new design was to be the start of the Boeing jetliner dynasty we know today and was now officially named the Boeing 707. With its fuselage wider and longer than the Dash 80 it could now claim to have the largest airliner cabin in the world. A claim Boeing used again in 1969 when the 747 Jumbo first flew. The first flight of this new transcontinental airliner took place in December 1957 with the first deliveries going to Pan Am and American Airlines in September 1958, one month before BOAC made the first Atlantic crossing by jet airliner carrying fare paying passengers with its Comet 4s.
One of the first customers for the 707 was American Airlines who continued to operate their fleet around the US and Canada for many years. This example was seen at Toronto in 1973. Photo: Keith Bradshaw
Both the military C-135/KC-135 versions and the early Boeing 707s were powered by the Pratt and Whitney JT-3C Turbojet or the later more powerful JT-4A which were early generation engines - noisy, thirsty and not overly powerful. To overcome the lack of power they were fitted with water injection systems for use at take off. This produced the great plumes of black smoke so typical of airliners from the late fifties early sixties. When BOAC managed to convince the British Government they needed to order the Boeing to stay competitive on the trans-Atlantic route they specified Rolls Royce Conway engines be fitted. Not only was this a nod towards the &lsquoBuy British&rsquo campaign but the Conway was also the world&rsquos first production turbofan engine. What&rsquos the difference between a turbojet and a turbofan? On a turbojet engine all the air entering the front of the engine travels through the core of the engine before rushing out of the jet pipe as thrust. On a turbofan there is an element of &lsquobypass-air&rsquo which means some of the air (a very small amount on the early turbofans) passes around the engine mixing at the jet pipe with the rest of the air that went through the core to produce the thrust.
BOAC were the first airline to specify the Rolls Royce Conway engines for their Boeing 707 Intercontinentals. After BOAC replaced their 707s with Boeing 747s they were passed on to BEA Airtours who operated them on holiday flights out of Gatwick. Following the BEA/BOAC merger in 1974 to form British Airways, they were rebranded British Airtours. Photo: Keith Bradshaw
This bypass air has a cooling effect on the air around the core, allowing the engine to operate at higher power settings without overheating. The bypass air contributes significantly to the engine&rsquos total thrust and if the percentage of bypass air is great enough it acts as a sound barrier and the engine is quieter. Large modern turbofan engines such as the Rolls Royce Trent have taken this principle to the extreme but back when the Conway was designed fan blade technology was not as advanced as it is today and only 25 per cent of air was bypassed around the outside of the core engine compared with 80 per cent for the Trent. Pratt and Whitney responded to the Rolls Royce threat by adding a fan section to the front of their original JT-3C engine and re naming it the JT-3D. This would become the engine of choice to power most of the long range Boeing 707-320 Intercontinentals. A longer aircraft with a new wing now capable of flying the Atlantic non- stop.
Plumes of smoke at take off were commonplace on early generation jet engines using water injection for extra power. Photo: Public domain
Originally built with the JT-3C or JT-4D turbojets, these older aircraft could quite easily be re-engined with the new turbofan. In fact by the early 1980s when a large number of 707s were being scrapped, those with low time JT-3D turbofans were bought by the USAF and the engines used to re engined the USAF KC-135s that still had the old JT-3C turbojets fitted. With the Boeing now selling well around the world it became the symbol of the &lsquoJet-set&rsquo especially with Pan American. They operated two iconic flights PA001 and PA002 both circumnavigating the world but in opposite directions. The big white and blue Boeings could be found in all the world&rsquos major cities and many exotic far-flung places. Juan Tripp the owner of Pan Am continued the tradition of naming Pan Am planes after sailing ships so all the 707s had a name beginning &lsquoClipper&rsquo. With the cabin crew in elegant blue uniforms and the on-board first class lounge, the service on the new Boeing was akin to that of a luxury ocean liner.
Pan American 707 first class lounge in 1959, even the tea trolley oozed style! Photo: Flikr/ James Vaughan
The first of an endless list of operators outside the US was Australian airline Qantas who ordered 13 of a special variant of the original 707-100. This had an even shorter fuselage so reducing weight and making the aeroplane very powerful. This extra power was required for the popular Qantas route to Fiji which at the time had a short runway. When the runway was lengthened in the mid sixties Qantas traded in its hot rod specials for standard 707s and some of their earlier machines found their way to the UK operating with Laker and British Eagle. Others were sold to Braniff International airlines for flights to South America.
The original Qantas short fuselage 707-138, the first 707 delivered outside the USA. Seen here in 2006 during its ferry flight back to Australia after restoration at Southend where it had sat for six years in open storage. Photo: YSSY
Another jet left Qantas for service in Canada and later as a VIP aircraft. Finally after use by the Saudi Government it ended up parked at Southend airport in 1999. This was in fact the first ever Boeing 707 delivered to Qantas and after restoration it left Southend in 2006 for the flight back to Australia and the Qantas museum at Longreach, Queensland. One of the other short body Qantas machines became the personal jet of actor John Travolta who in a deal with Qantas had it repainted in their original colours and he flew it around the world promoting the airline. Due to corrosion this aeroplane is now in store but the HARS museum in Australia are keen to add it to their collection of aircraft so it may fly again one day.
Braniff Airlines also took on some of the ex-Qantas aircraft for use on its flights to South America. They also bought new standard aircraft from Boeing. It is one of these we see at Honolulu in 1971. This aeroplane was sold on to Varig Brazilian airlines and was lost in a crash at Rio de Janeiro in 1973. Photo: RuthAs
With the success of the long haul 707 under their belt Boeing had also been looking at a version for short haul routes. Thus they went back to the shorter original version of the 707 and carried out some major changes which reduced the weight considerably and this version became known as the Boeing 720. First flying at the tail end of 1959 production continued until 1962. 154 had been built when its place in the Boeing line up was taken by the new Boeing 727. Over this side of the Atlantic the 720 was operated by a number of airlines such as Lufthansa, Air Malta, Monarch, Conair, Middle East Airlines, Saudi Arabian and others. So happy were Boeing with the nose and fuselage design of the 707 they used it again on the Boeing 727 and Boeing 737, even today&rsquos 737-MAX can trace the fuselage design directly back to the 707.
Boeing 720 of Columbian airline Aerocondor was leased from American airlines from 1972 until they repossessed it in 1980. It was scrapped the following year. Photo: RuthAs
The mid 1960s were the zenith for production of the 707 with Boeing rolling two aeroplanes a week out of its factory at Renton, Seattle. However things were soon to change. In 1969 at the Boeing plant further up the road in Everett the Boeing 747 took to the air and the reign of the 707 as Queen of the skies ended. As airlines around the world started to take delivery of the new jumbo jet the 707 was pushed down on to lesser routes or sold on to secondary airlines. The early turbojet versions had very little value and were soon being scrapped along with any other high time airframes. Pan Am&rsquos large fleet had eventually all gone by 1981, some to UK airlines such as Donaldson and British Midland.
UK cargo company Anglo Cargo operated Boeing 707s for a number of years even taking time out for a flypast at a Biggin Hill Air Fair. Ordered new by Qantas this plane also flew with British Caledonian before coming to Anglo. In 1998 it joined the USAF as an E-8 JSTARS command post aircraft Photo: Keith Bradshaw,
Others were converted into freighters and flew on for some years to come, but unlike the DC-8s which were also being withdrawn and converted for cargo use the 707 design could not be stretched so its load capacity was not as good. Other ex-major airline aeroplanes found themselves working for a number of smaller airlines in South America or Africa. Some of these wore very colourful paint schemes.
One of many colourful South American operators Ecuatoriana of Ecuador operated 707s into Miami where this example is seen in 1988. From 1969-1981 it had operated with Pan Am as Clipper Norseman. Photo: Keith Bradshaw
Although the 747 Jumbo jet was now in full production Boeing kept the 707 line open to fulfil a steady trickle of orders for new aeroplanes, mainly cargo versions or one-off VIP aircraft for governments and the military including in 1972 a new Air Force One for the US President. This was not the first 707, or in military terms VC-37C, to fly the President around. The first had been delivered back in 1959 when President Eisenhower gave up his previous piston engine Constellation to join the jet age. Many other heads of state would end up using a new or revamped 707 for their personal transport.
The museum at Pima Arizona has one of the 707s used by the US government for VIP duties. It was this type of aircraft that became the first jet powered Air Force One. Photo: Keith Bradshaw
A major fillip to the dwindling 707 production line came when the USAF ordered a new battle field surveillance platform based on the 707 to be known as the AWACS. First flying in 1975 this distinctive aircraft with a huge rotating scanner would be the final Boeing 707-based aircraft to be built at Renton when the production line finally closed in 1992. Ten years earlier Boeing had produced the last civil 707 which initially was retained by them as a sales demo aircraft trial fitted with the large CFM56 fan engines. However, with their own Boeing 757 coming into production the company did not push sales of the old airframe and the demonstrator was eventually re-engined back to the Pratt and Whitney JT-3D and sold to the Moroccan Government as a VIP aircraft, thus ending a production run of 856 civil airframes over a period of 28 years. The production line would finally close with another 84 AWACS and E-6 command post aircraft being built for the military, plus hundreds of C135/KC-135s based on the original Dash 80. A grand total of 1803 aeroplanes.
As well as the USAF other customers for the E-3 Sentry AWACS were NATO, France, RAF and the Saudi Airforce. This NATO aircraft is at the Royal International Air Show in 1999 in a special paint scheme to celebrate 50 years of NATO. The USAF and NATO aeroplanes were powered by the P&W JT-3D whereas the later models delivered to the RAF, France and Saudi had the CFM-56 fan engine. Photo : Keith Bradshaw
The Boeing 707 has been around for many years but we now consider it a rare aeroplane should one pass through our local airport. The last airline to use passenger configured 707s was SAHA of Iran, finally retiring the type from service in 2013. Boeing 707s still fly on in Iran but only with the military. Many smaller countries whose airlines once flew the mighty Boeing have also taken them on after airline retirement and converted them for use by their military or heads of state. For instance both Israel and South Africa took over airframes from the state airlines and converted them into intelligence gathering aircraft.
At the Fairford Air Tattoo in 2018 the RC-135W is not the prettiest of the Boeing 707 derivatives. As can be seen the RAF aircraft were delivered with the big CFM-56 fan engines.
Photo : Keith Bradshaw
No new aircraft based on the C-135/KC-135 airframe had been built for many years, so where were the three planes ordered for the RAF to come from? Out of the storage yards in the desert three KC-135 tankers built back in the early 1960s were taken into a workshop and emerged a couple of years later as the RAF&rsquos &lsquonew&rsquo RC-135W and were delivered to RAF Waddington in 2013. At this time the airframes were already almost 50 years old. The extraordinary thing is the RAF intends to operate them until 2045 at which time they will be 80 years old! Who says Boeing don&rsquot build aeroplanes to last!
From these rows of stored C-135/KC-135 in the Arizona desert came the three RC-135W airframes for the RAF. Photo: Keith Bradshaw
What started out as a military aeroplane also ended production as such, but in the middle was an iconic jet airliner which became the stylish jet of the 1960s so let&rsquos finish with a picture of where it all started: the 1958 production line ramp at Renton, Seattle and those early Pan American machines.
Don&rsquot forget while we are being restricted by Covid-19 we will be posting two articles a month here on the website. Look out for the next one in two weeks time! There are also two posts a week on our Facebook page - The British Airliner Collection.
Nearest to the camera is N711PA &lsquoClipper America&rsquo which first flew in September 1958. After being sold by Pan Am in 1974 she went on to fly with the Turkish Airline THY and Bouraq Indonesian Airlines before eventually being broken up in Taipei in 1984. Photo: Public domain
If It Ain’t Boeing – I Ain’t Going. The Iconic Boeing 707 Story
If it ain’t Boeing – I ain’t going is quite a bold statement. However, consider the context at the time. This was the beginning of the jet age – with the de Havilland Comet becoming a synonym for “mid-air explosion”, the Boeing 707 came at the right time. Douglas and SUD were lagging behind and introduced their DC-8 and Caravelle jet aircraft a year later than the 707. The Tupolev Tu-104 was behind the iron curtain. Because of this, it had no chance to impact anything culturally outside the Soviet sphere of influence. Thus, this allowed the Boeing 707 to become an icon and symbol of a new and revolutionary way of travel.
Culturally, October 17 th , 1958 was the day that the jet age began in the minds of everyone. Or maybe restarted?
Anyhow, let’s roll back a bit and conceptualize what are the reasons why the 707 become such an icon.
A Jet Engine.
The first reason was that the Boeing 707 was a jetliner. At the time, the only commercial jets were flying behind the Iron Curtain. The de Havilland Comet was grounded after a series of crashes. That is why, when Boeing 707 introduced a reliable and safe jet-powered aircraft, it certainly did change the way we travel.
As I have previously already talked about the jet engines and the reasons why they will definitely replace piston jets in the Tupolev Tu-104 story, I won’t go too much into detail. To summarize, there were three reasons:
- Piston-powered engines were coming to their maximum as to how much power they can produce. To squeeze more, engineers made them more complex and that is the reason why maintenance costs shot up. Fuel consumption to engine power ratio was not ideal either
- Passenger comfort. Piston engines are loud, they vibrate a lot (especially on a plane like the Constellation with 4 piston engines) and generally make passengers uncomfortable. With the price tag at the time for a ticket, they certainly did not provide a luxurious experience
- The demand for trans-Atlantic flights has risen significantly. While Piston props could theoretically do trans-Atlantic flights, they usually had to stop to refuel. Their cruising speed was slow, so the flights took much longer than with jet engines.
Pratt & Whitney JT3D Boeing 707 Jet Engines
Laying Down The Foundations
One of the most important facts to know is that Boeing risked everything with the new 707. It was literally a make it or break it situation. The current Boeing company president at the time, William Allen, committed $16 million to develop 367-80. The money was everything that the company had earned after the war. So, if the 367 was a bust – the company would go bust as well. Subsequently, the public nicknamed it the “Dash 80“. The 367 was an early Boeing 707 and Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker prototype.
Boeing’s strategy was simple – change the general perception that jet aircraft were unsafe. So, they developed and built the 367-80 to go on a tour around the United States to prove to the public and CEOs of Airlines alike that a jet-powered aircraft can be safe while showcasing a flying example. You got to hand it to Boeing – if the aircraft were to fail during these demonstration flights, the company was gone. However, they did a brilliant job of designing and building it and it encountered no issues after preliminary taxi and flight tests. After engineers completed the early designs in 1952, Boeing decision-makers approved it. Just two years later, in July of 1954, the 367-80 commenced its first flight.
Boeing, like all others, had an advantage – they knew the structural problems of the de Havilland Comet. Nevertheless, you mustn’t forget that Boeing also built military aircraft. Like the Russians with the Tu-104, Boeing also used their experience from the B-47 Stratojet to build the new 367-80.
Do A Barrel Roll
August 6 th , 1955 was a huge day for Boeing. In Seafair, an event held in Seattle, William Allen invited AIA and IATA members to show them the new jet.
This was crucial for the future success of the 707. If those 2 associations approve it, then there was nothing to stop the new Boeing jet from entering commercial service. As the company already secured orders for the KC 135 Stratotankers, it was crucial to do so for the 707 as well.
And one man made sure that the members of AIA and IATA would approve it. While doing a casual fly over, test pilot Alvin Johnston performed two barrel rolls. It might not have been the smartest decision to do so, the pilot later said he was just "selling airplanes". While you cannot certainly say that the barrel roll sold the aircraft to customers, but it definitely made an impact.
Boeing 367-80 NASA Picture
While the Comet was the first commercial jet that started service, people wanted to forget about it. As quickly as possible. So when Boeing, a well-known manufacturer in the United States, kicked the door open with it‘s 707, it instantly became a hit. Not only commercially for Boeing, but notably, it became an American cultural icon.
Even so much so, that Frank Sinatra bought his own 707. His “Come Fly With Me” album cover showed an aircraft, albeit a Lockheed Constellation. However, whenever someone heard the “Come Fly With Me” song, they imagined a Boeing 707 in front of their eyes. What is even crazier, that Jantzen, a swimwear company, used the Boeing 707 to advertise their newest swimwear collection in 1957.
Pan American Airways released a short-movie about the new jet and called it "The Wonderful Jet World of Pan-American."
Boeing 707 – a commercial success
It became a cultural icon for a good reason – airlines also loved it. In total, Boeing built 856 Seven O’ Seven jets. Airlines bought 725, while Air Force units used the rest of the 707s.
Pan American Airways introduced the Boeing 707 on October 17 th , 1958. Pan Am held a christening event, which the current president of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower, attended. A special inaugural flight from Baltimore to Paris followed. Friends of Juan Trippe, the founder of Pan Am, occupied the seats onboard the flight. 9 days later, on October 26 th , Pan Am started passenger operations from New York to Paris, with a fuel stop in Newfoundland.
The jet was not popular only inside the American market. Qantas started flying the 707 in 1959 and was the first international airline to do so. Many more followed Qantas and bought their first jets. El Al, BOAC, Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY) , Air France, Aer Lingus and Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) were amongst the long list of 707 customers.
As I mentioned above, the Air Force used the 707s in various military specifications. Even today, 61 years after its launch, the Boeing 707 military units use it as a transport or a reconnaissance aircraft.
Regarding its safety record, aviation experts regard the 707 as a safe aircraft. Although accidents destroyed 173 Boeing 707 aircraft completely, pilots never complained about the difficulty of flying the jet. Nor it had any major structural issues like the de Havilland Comet did.
Too Good For Its Own Good
As public confidence grew, so did the passenger numbers for airlines operating the 707. Airlines could not keep up with the demand and Boeing had to come up with new variants to satisfy their customer needs. Qantas received a long-range model, while Braniff International got special 707s to fly in the high altitudes of South America.
As a result of trying to satisfy everyone’s needs, Boeing did not make a lot of profit off of the 707. Although it was commercially successful amongst airlines, the constant modifications made the program costly. However, the 707 laid the foundations for the further success of the company. As I said that airlines could not cope with the demand, the 707 eventually developed into the Queen of the Skies. So, while indirectly, the 707 still brought a profit to Boeing when the aircraft convinced airlines that Boeing built great jets.
And the Boeing 707 was good. In fact so good, that John Travolta even bought one. Qantas previously used the airline for regular service, when John Travolta purchased it. A few years ago he donated it to Historical Aircraft Restoration Society in Australia.
Furthermore, numerous countries still use the 707s in their Air Force, while the last commercial 707 crashed just two weeks ago.
To sum up, what the 707 did for aviation would be difficult and would require me a lot of additional words. But in an effort to keep it as short as possible, I will say this – the 707 was a huge risk that paid off for Boeing. And not only it did push the company forward, but it also pushed every other aircraft manufacturer forward to innovate, strive for greatness and be daring. The Boeing 707 brought revived the dream of jet aviation.
Hamburg Airport’s Boeing 707 About to be Scrapped
The Boeing 707 was a game changer when it rolled out of the factory. At this time, Douglas und Lockheed were dominating the long-haul market with their advanced propeller-driven airliners. However, the 707 dramatically increased the level of comfort in air travel overall and was an important milestone on the road to air travel as we know it today. The aircraft increased capacity while decreasing travel times, helping to open up air travel to the masses. Even though the 707 wasn’t a top seller, Boeing still delivered 865 aircraft of the type.
A few 707s found their home base in Germany for Lufthansa. After the carrier retired its 707 fleet in 1984, only one aircraft has survived to today. The Boeing aircraft with the regristration D-ABOD went to Hamburg to be used as a training object for new hires.
In 1999, the 707 was bought by Hamburg Airport for a symbolic price of 1 euro. From then on, it was used as a training device for the local airport fire department. Additionally, it was also used at airport festivals and could be visited by aviation enthusiats. The aircraft was also used in various movies as a film set.
More recently, however, the COVID-19 crisis has found another aviation-related victim. On the February 3, Hamburg Airport announced the likely end of its 707. The current plan is now to scrap the aircraft into parts which will be auctioned off.
Even though the stated reason of the Hamburg Airport seems understandable, a few movements have sprung up with the goal of saving the historic plane. Those resisting the demolition of the old airframe have managed to catch the eye of local media outlets, giving hope to the decades-old plane.
Personally, I was lucky enought to experience aviation history, having visited the aircraft multiple times. That makes it even more sad for me to see such old aircraft getting scrapped. I personally find it sad that the aircraft hasn’t been able to find its way into a museum in the past months and years.
Boeing, the oldest major aircraft manufacturer, entered the jet airliner business third, after the British and Russians. Success long eluded Boeing in the art and science of building and selling airliners (non-military airplanes for commercial air travel) at a profit. Beginning in 1928 with the model 80 trimotor airliner (a biplane with fabric covering), Boeing labored hard at producing a handful of innovative airliner designs in small, unrewarding quantities. In 1958, Boeing’s first jet airliner, the 707, proved to be the vehicle that finally changed the commercial side of the ledger from red to black ink. The 707, based on the prototype Dash-80 (1954), was the first truly successful jet airliner in service that was built in large numbers (almost twice that of the runner up Douglas DC-8) and which returned a profit to its maker.
The 707 overcame its late start with the best combination of technology, capability, and economics to out distance all of the first generation jet airliner builders, including those that followed Boeing’s design lead.
The British Were First
Britain and Germany pioneered the development of the jet-propelled airplane, and were the only nations whose jet airplanes engaged in combat during World War II. The British had long been major players in the airliner business, which appeared to them to be becoming an American dominated industry with the end of the war. Piston engine airliners being built by Douglas, Lockheed, and Boeing were far in advance in capability of their European competitors. Those West Coast manufacturers of long-range airliners were then joined by Convair and Martin covering the short haul segment.
Pondering the need the need to support its aviation industry, the British government decided to fund the development of several gas turbine (turbojet, turbofan, turboprop) engined airliners. The idea was to create a market niche for the newest technology, high-speed turbojet and turboprop-powered airliners, while the Americans were concentrating on profiting from obsolescent piston engine airliners. (The turbojet engine is the basic engine of the jet age. It works by compressing air, forcing it into a combuster, which sprays fuel on it and ignites it. The air burns continuously like a blow torch, through the turbine, which extracts energy to work the compressor, and out the back to thrust the aircraft forward.)
Aircraft and engine manufacturer de Havilland’s Comet began as a design study during mid-1941, early into World War II. By the time the DH.106 Comet flew in 1949, it had evolved into a sweptback wing, small capacity, medium range airliner with an attractive, aerodynamically clean appearance. Its four de Havilland centrifugal flow turbojet engines were positioned inside the wing, adjacent to the fuselage (the body of the aircraft). Entering service with the British Overseas Airline Corp. (BOAC) in 1952, the Comet was an immediate hit with passengers, and it quickly attracted orders from many airlines. Pan American Airlines (PAA), the trailblazer among the long distance airlines, felt compelled to order an advanced Comet variant, as there was no U.S. competitor in being or even on the horizon.
The Comet had a short-lived triumph as it tragically experienced a series of fatal accidents, which resulted in grounding in 1954 after less than two years. Careful analysis of the accidents revealed a cabin structural design flaw. Repeated pressurization cycles caused the cabin to fail, leading to explosive decompression. Other accidents were attributed to pilot error in mastering the new techniques required to fly swept wing, turbojet airliners.
A revised, much larger Comet 4 entered service in 1958, several weeks before PAA flew the first 707 across the Atlantic. It was too late and too small to compete with the faster, larger, and longer-ranged Boeing. Fewer than 125 Comet airliners were built. The Comet survives in 2002 in the form of a maritime reconnaissance variant named the Nimrod, operated by the British Royal Air Force.
Next The Russians
The Soviet aircraft industry was ordered by dictator Joseph Stalin to produce a jet airliner to match the Comet for prestige reasons and to reduce travel times across the immense 11-time-zone country. In short order, Tupolev produced a straightforward airliner adaptation of its new Tu-16 Badger twin jet bomber. The resulting Tu-104 was an attractive, rather unrefined airliner with a passenger-carrying fuselage mated to the bomber’s wings, tail, engines, and landing gear. Flying in 1955, a year after the 707 prototype, it beat the 707 into service by two years, beginning in 1956. That same year it became the first jet airliner to transport a head of state (Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev).
With the Comet grounded, the larger, faster (600+ mph) Tu-104 was the only turbojet airliner in service for more than two years until the Comet 4 and 707 joined it in 1958. As the first successful turbojet airliner, the Tupolev was untroubled by pressurization problems, and it introduced the axial flow turbojet engine to airline service. Its Mikulin engines produced twice the thrust of any Western engine at the time, and it took more than five years for U.S. and British companies to equal its power. The Tu-104 series served Soviet Bloc airlines well for nearly 20 years. Just over 200 airliners were built.
The Dash-80 Begins a Dynasty
Having lost out to Douglas and Lockheed with the disappointing sales of its highly regarded, but comparatively expensive 377 Stratocruiser, and with the Comet in service, Boeing decided to compete anew with a jet airliner. The plan was to satisfy the Air Force need for a jet powered air-refueling tanker and to provide the airlines with a large jet airliner, using essentially the same airframe. Boeings’ concept was to use Air Force development funding to help defray costs, and to economize by building both types on the same assembly line.
When the mid-1952 decision was made to build a company-funded jet propelled prototype to the tune of $16 million, Boeing was well positioned to succeed. At the time it had built thousands of pressurized aircraft and was the only maker of large, 600 mph jet aircraft. The B-47 Stratojet bomber was in production, and the recently flown YB-52 Stratofortress bomber was well received by the Air Force. Boeing’s development of the successful Flying Boom air refueling system, in use aboard KB-29 and KC-97 propeller-driven tankers, made its jet tanker proposal extremely attractive to the Air Force.
Beginning in 1946, Boeing studied a series of turboprop and turbojet powered modifications of its C-97 Stratofreighter and Stratocruiser. Perhaps Boeing was influenced by an Air Force experiment wherein two pairs of B-47 inboard jet engines, complete with pylons, were hung on a straight-winged transport glider and successfully tested. The Chase XCG-20A was flown on April 20, 1951, thus becoming the first U.S. jet transport and the first transport to use axial flow jet engines. Ultimately, however, a fresh approach incorporating B-47 and B-52 design elements was selected. Designated as model 367-80 to disguise the new aircraft as a variant of the C-97 for competitive reasons, the prototype became known the Dash-80 or Dash Eighty.
Emerging in 1954 as a chocolate and yellow painted sweptback winged beauty with four under-slung engines, the Dash-80 owed little to any previous jet airliner. Indeed, the Dash-80 can be considered to this day to be the granddaddy of most of the following large jet airliners built in the U.S., Europe, Russia, and even China, as they adopted its general configuration for their own.
Flown on July 15, 1954, the Dash-80 proved to be an immediate winner in terms of flying qualities and technology. The real battle then began as Boeing tried to sell the Air Force and the airlines on its new product. Urgently needing a fast, jet powered tanker to refuel its speedy jet bombers and fighters, the Air Force stepped up to the plate first and ordered 29 KC-135 Stratotankers to replace its propeller-driven tankers. Assured of the soundness of its gamble by the September 1, 1954, tanker order for an enlarged Dash-80 development, Boeing prepared to produce it.
That Pivotal Inch
At this time Douglas and Lockheed essentially owned the world long-haul airliner market that Boeing wanted a big piece of. Douglas, in fact, had announced plans to build its own jet airliner, which would materialize in mid-1958 as the DC-8, a near twin of the 707. Airlines weren’t anxious to enter the jet age just yet. Piston engine airliners were profitable, the Comet saga indicated that more development was necessary, and the high cost of jet airliners and their required infrastructure all conspired against Boeing.
Meanwhile, the British were first again. The Vickers Viscount four-turboprop airliner entered into service in early 1953. Vickers turboprop would prove to be the first successful turbine-engine airliner in service that was built in large numbers (444). Several U.S. airlines placed orders for larger capacity variants.
In 1955, Boeing, with its Dash-80 flying prototype and its first jet tanker under construction, was locked in a sales battle with Douglas, which had never built a large jet airplane of its own design, and which was pitching an un-built airplane to the airlines, and winning. Douglas, with a solid reputation as an airliner manufacturer, was offering DC-8 models with more powerful engines, greater passenger capacity, and longer range than the proposed 707. PAA and American Airlines wanted six-across passenger seating, longer range, and more powerful engines.
The DC-8 was offered with an overall fuselage width of 147 inches, sufficient for six across seating, while Boeing wanted a common airliner and tanker fuselage width of 144 inches (to economize on tooling costs), which was too narrow for the airlines.
Boeing’s president Bill Allen made the costly decision to widen the 707 for six-across seating. At 148-inch fuselage width, the 707 design was now one inch wider than the DC-8, and PAA bought 20 of these, as well as 25 DC-8s. Boeing was behind. To secure additional orders, Boeing offered several fuselage lengths, larger wings for more range, and more powerful engines. By developing a family of 707 models, Boeing unknowingly set the stage for its great success in the jet airliner business.
First 707 Service
The Comet 4 raced across the Atlantic carrying passengers on October 4, 1958, three weeks before PAA flew the first 707 passenger flight from New York City to Paris, on October 26, 1958. It was a hollow victory for the new Comet version as it lacked true trans-Atlantic capability, as evidenced by the need to refuel in Canada en route to New York. BOAC, a British national airline, was among the first to order 707s.
Domestic U.S. airline service began that year when National Airlines flew a leased PAA 707 from Miami to New York. The order flood gates opened, Boeing became the jet airliner manufacturer of choice, selling hundreds of 707s around the world. Within a short period, 707s were flying passengers and cargo throughout the Free World.
Some firsts. Boeings’ first turbine engine transport in service were two Air Force YC-97Js turboprop test aircraft flown in 1956 to gain operating experience. During July 1955 the first turbine engine airliner in U.S. service, a Vickers Viscount turboprop, carried passengers for Capital Airlines. On September 27, 1958, a Fairchild Friendship twin turboprop airliner (Dutch designed, U.S. built with British engines) flew revenue service for West Coast Airlines in California. Douglas flew its DC-8 on May 30, 1958 it entered service less than a year after the 707 on September 18, 1959. The first supersonic airliner was a Douglas DC-8-43 that dived past Mach one (a figure representing a very high rate of speed) during a test on August 21, 1961.
Early 707 turbojet engines lacked power, were noisy, prodigious fuel burners, and environmentally dirty. The British again stepped forward and introduced the turbofan engine. It differed from the turbojet by having an enclosed set of large compressor blades added, which moved volumes of cool air along the core engines’ exterior. The effect was near miraculous -- increased power, lower fuel consumption, less noise and pollution, for a slightly heavier, more expensive engine. All current production jet airliners use turbofan engines. British Rolls-Royce Conway turbofans powered a 707-420 into the air on May 20, 1959, but it was a Douglas DC-8-40 using similar engines that entered airline service first on April 1, 1960.
And yet again an American company seized the initiative, and wrested the turbofan market away. Pratt & Whitney, the turbojet supplier to both Boeing and Douglas, rapidly developed its superior JT3D turbofan engine, which became the most reliable airplane engine in history. The JT3D transformed the 707 into a stellar performer, and the orders poured in. Pratt & Whitney went on to furnish the vast majority of engines for the 707, 720, 727, 737 (first generation), 747, DC-8 and DC-9 airliners, and U.S. and foreign military transports.
Teddy Roosevelt was the first of our Presidents to fly aboard an airplane (and ride in an automobile), on October 1, 1910, years after he left office. Boeing had the distinction of carrying the first sitting President aloft on January 14, 1943, when its 314 Clipper flying boat flew Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Casablanca Conference in North Africa. In the following period, a series of propeller-driven airliners served the President. With the Soviet Premier flying in jet aircraft and the 707’s entry into service, the time was ripe for the Presidency to enter the jet age. The Air Force ordered three 707-120s, designated as VC-137As, for White House use, as well as for other VIPs. When the President is aboard a VC-137A, it is called Air Force One. President Eisenhower inaugurated White House jet travel in 1959.
A fourth jet, a turbofan 707-320B/VC-137C tail #62-6000 (now at the Air Force Museum, Dayton, Ohio) was ordered for the use of President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963). It figured tragically as the location where Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as President following Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963. A final jet, VC-137C tail #72-7000 served as the principal Air Force One until 1990. Boeing has a lock. The newest and current Air Force One is a 747-200, designated as VC-25A.
Medium Range 720
With the 707 solidly in service, two serious competitors appeared on the scene offering medium range jet airliners. By 1959, the Convair 880 (another 707 look-a-like) and the French twinjet Caravelle had flown. Boeing defended its market share by introducing the new 720 airliner. While appearing as a 707 variant, the 720 was a new design aerodynamically and structurally, optimized to cover the medium range segment of the market. The 720 entered service during 1960.
Boeing satisfied an Air Force requirement for a flying radar station and command post by modifying a 707-320B with an overhead rotating radar rotodome. The resulting production aircraft designated as E-3 Sentry AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System), was the final 707 airframe built. This occurred in 1991. The navy also procured modified 707-320Bs, designated as the E-6A Mercury, to function as a communication platform for land and sea based ballistic missile operations. Both of these special mission aircraft remain in front line service in 2002. Canada and Iran purchased 707s modified for the airborne refueling tanker role.
The 707 is no longer in first tier airline service, but several foreign airlines provide third tier and charter service. Private individuals operate 707s, including actor/pilot John Travolta. Dash-80 progeny include the manufacture of nearly 2,000 707s, 720s, and C-135s, all in Renton, Washington, truly mass production on a grand scale, greatly rewarding Boeing for its $16 million gamble.
Several 707 design elements survive today in the form of the similar appearing nose of the current production 737 Next Generation airliner, and in the identical fuselage width of the 737 and the contemporary 757 airliner. The Dash-80 presently resides in Boeing’s Plant 2, awaiting the completion of its new home at the National Air and Space Museum, located in Washington, DC. Boeing has delivered more than 10,000 jet airliners.
Pan American Airways Boeing 707 departs New York for first scheduled jet passenger flight to Paris, October 26, 1958.
Its name is most commonly spoken as "Seven Oh Seven". Boeing delivered a total of 1,010 Boeing 707s, which dominated passenger air transport in the 1960s and remained common through the 1970s. As of October 2006, 68 Boeing 707 aircraft (of any variant) were reported to be remaining in airline service, with just two airlines flying passengers, Saha Airlines of Iran and LADE Airlines of Argentina. Boeing also offered a smaller, faster version of the aircraft that was marketed as the Boeing 720.
Although it was not the first commercial jet in service (that distinction belongs to the De Havilland Comet), the 707 was the first to be commercially successful, and is credited as ushering in the Jet Age. It established Boeing as one of the largest makers of passenger aircraft, and led to the later series of aircraft with "7x7" designations.
The 707 was based on an aircraft known as the 367-80. The "Dash 80", as it was called within Boeing, took less than two years from project launch in 1952 to rollout on 14 May 1954. This was powered by the Pratt & Whitney JT3C engine which was the civilian version of the J57 used on many military aircraft of the day including the F-100, F-101, F-102, and the B-52.
The prototype was conceived for both military and civilian use: the United States Air Force was the first customer for the design, using in the KC-135 Stratotanker midair refueling platform. It was far from certain that the passenger 707 would be profitable. At the time, Boeing was making nearly all of its money from military contracts: its last passenger transport, the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, had netted the company a $15 million loss before it was purchased by the Air Force as the KC-97 Stratotanker.
The 132 inch fuselage of the Dash 80 was only wide enough to fit two-plus-two seating (in the manner of the Stratocruiser). Boeing soon realized that this would not provide a viable payload, so decided to widen the fuselage to 144 inches, the same as the KC-135 Stratotanker, which would allow six-abreast seating - and the shared use of the KC-135's tooling. However, Douglas had launched its DC-8 with a fuselage width of 147 inches. The airlines liked the extra space, and so Boeing was obliged to increase the 707's cabin width again, this time to 148 inches. This meant that little of the tooling that was made for the Dash 80 was usable for the 707. The extra cost meant the 707 did not become profitable until some years after it would have if these modifications were not necessary.
The first flight of the first production 707-120 took place on 20 December 1957, and FAA certification followed on 18 September 1958.
Boeing would later develop a smaller, faster version of the aircraft that was marketed as the Boeing 720. Between 1959 and 1967, there were 154 models built, hoping to fill the short to medium range commercial market. Other competing aircraft was also in this market with the Convair 880 and 990 aircraft.
The first commercial orders for the 707 came in 1955, when Pan Am committed to 20 707s and 25 Douglas DC-8s, a dramatic increase in passenger capacity over its existing fleet of propeller aircraft. The competition between the 707 and DC-8 was fierce. Several major airlines committed only to the DC-8, as Douglas Aircraft was a more established maker of passenger aircraft at the time. To stay competitive, Boeing made a late and costly decision to redesign and enlarge the 707's wing to help increase range and payload. The new version was numbered 707-320
Pan Am was the first airline to operate the 707 the aircraft's first commercial flight was from New York to Paris on 26 October 1958. American Airlines operated the first domestic 707 flight on 25 January 1959. Airlines which had only ordered the DC-8, such as United, Delta and Eastern, were left jetless for months and lost market share on transcontinental flights.
The 707 quickly became the most popular jetliner of its time. Its popularity led to rapid developments in airport terminals, runways, airline catering, baggage handling, reservations systems and other air transport infrastructure. The advent of the 707 also led to the upgrading of air traffic control systems to prevent interference with military jet operations. In order to become a new major player in the commercial airliner business, Boeing was quick to bend to customer's desires. While the 707-120 was the initial standard model with Pratt & Whitney JT3C engines, Qantas ordered a shorter body version called the 707-138 and Braniff ordered the higher-thrust version with Pratt & Whitney JT4A engines, the 707-220. The final major derivative was the 707-320 which featured an extended-span wing and JT4A engines, while the 707-420 was the same as the -320 but with Rolls-Royce Conway turbofan engines, making the aircraft more acceptable for the British market. British certification requirements relating to engine-out go-arounds also forced Boeing to increase the height of the tail fin on all 707 variants, as well as adding a ventral fin.
Eventually, the dominant engine for the Boeing 707 family was the Pratt & Whitney JT3D, a turbofan variant of the JT3C with even lower fuel consumption, as well as higher thrust. JT3D-engined 707s and 720s were denoted with a "B" suffix - while many 707-120Bs and 720Bs were conversions of existing JT3C-powered machines, 707-320Bs were only available as new-built aircraft as they had a stronger structure to support a maximum take-off weight increased by 19,000 lb, along with minor modifications to the wing.
The ultimate 707 variant was the 707-320C, (C for "Convertible") which was fitted with a large fuselage door for cargo applications. This aircraft also had a significantly revised wing featuring three-section leading-edge flaps. This provided an additional improvement to takeoff and landing performance, as well as allowing the ventral fin to be removed (although the taller fin was retained). 707-320Bs built after 1963 used the same wing as the -320C, and were known as 707-320B Advanced aircraft.
As the 1960s drew to a close, the exponential growth in air travel led to the 707 being a victim of its own success. The 707 was now too small to handle the increased passenger densities on the routes for which it was designed. Stretching the fuselage was not a viable option because the installation of larger, more powerful engines would in turn need a larger undercarriage, which was not feasible given the design's limited ground clearance. Boeing's answer to the problem was the first twin aisle airliner - the Boeing 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. In total, 1,010 707s were built for civil use, though many of these found their way to military service. Trans World Airlines flew the last scheduled 707 flight for passengers by a US carrier on 30 October 1983, although 707s remained in scheduled service by airlines from other nations for much longer. Middle East Airlines (MEA) of Lebanon flew 707s and 720s in front-line passenger service until the end of the 90s, and now only Saha Airlines of Iran and LADE of Argentina fly 707s in passenger service. Saha's domestic flights from Tehran to Mashhad, Kish Island and Shiraz are not listed in the July, 2007 OFFICIAL AIRLINE GUIDE, however, if still operating. However, LADE flights from El Palomar Air Force Base near Buenos Aires to Rio Gallegos and Comodoro Rivadavia are so listed. The purpose-built military variants remained in production until 1991.
Traces of the 707 are still found in the 737, which uses a modified version of the 707's fuselage, as well as essentially the same external nose and cockpit configuration as the 707. These were also used on the previous Boeing 727, while the Boeing 757 also used the 707 fuselage cross-section. The Chinese government sponsored development of the Shanghai Y-10 during the 1970s, which was a near carbon-copy of the 707, however this did not enter production.
In 1984, a Boeing 720 that was flown by remote control was intentionally crashed at Edwards AFB as a part of the FAA and NASA Controlled Impact Demonstration program. The test provided peak accelerations during a crash.
The 707's engines could not supply sufficient bleed air for pressurization without a serious loss of thrust, so the aircraft instead used engine-driven turbocompressors to supply high-pressure air for this purpose. On many commercial 707s the outer port (#1) engine mount is distinctly different from the other three, as this is the only engine not fitted with a turbocompressor. The Boeing 707 was the first commercially successful airliner to use podded engines.
The 707 wings are swept back at 35 degrees and, like all swept-wing aircraft, displayed an undesirable "Dutch roll" flying characteristic which manifested itself as an alternating yawing and rolling motion. Boeing already had considerable experience with this on the B-47 and B-52, and had developed the yaw damper system on the B-47 that would be applied to later swept wing configurations like the 707. However, many new 707 pilots had no experience with this phenomenon as they were transitioning from straight-wing propeller driven aircraft such as the Douglas DC-7 and Lockheed Constellation.
On one customer acceptance flight, where the yaw damper was turned off to familiarize the new pilots with flying techniques, a trainee pilot exacerbated the Dutch Roll motion causing a violent roll motion which tore two of the four engines off the wing. The plane, a brand new 707-227 N7071 destined for Braniff, crash landed on a river bed north of Seattle at Arlington, Washington, killing four of the eight occupants.
In his autobiography, test pilot Tex Johnston described a Dutch Roll incident he experienced as a passenger on an early commercial 707 flight. As the aircraft's movements gradually became more severe, he went to the cockpit and found the crew frantically attempting to resolve the situation. He introduced himself and relieved the ashen-faced captain who immediately left the cockpit feeling ill. Johnston quickly stabilized the plane and later, even landed it for the crew.
Upgrades and modifications
Pratt & Whitney, in a joint venture with Seven Q Seven (SQS) and Omega Air, has developed the JT8D-219 as a re-engine powerplant for Boeing 707-based aircraft, calling their modified configuration a 707RE. Northrop Grumman has selected the -219 to re-engine the United States Air Force&rsquos fleet of 19 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (E-8 Joint STARS) aircraft, which will allow the JSTARS more time on station due to the engine's greater fuel efficiency. NATO also plans to re-engine their fleet of E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft. The -219 is publicized as being half the cost of the competing 707 re-engine powerplant, the CFM-56, and is 40dB quieter than than JT3D engines that are being replaced.
British Caledonian Boeing 707 shown at Prestwick International Airport, South Ayrshire, Scotland, 1972.367-80 (Dash-80): The original prototype jet transport layout. Used to develop the 707, it was fitted with four Pratt & Whitney JT3C engines producing 10,000 lbf (44 kN) each. First flight was 15 July 1954.
707-120: 69 of the first production 707s were built, with a longer fuselage and greater wingspan than the original Dash-80. A full set of rectangular cabin windows was included for the interior, which was capable of a seating 179 passengers. The version was designed for transcontinental routes and often required a refuelling stop when used on the North Atlantic route. It was fitted with four Pratt and Whitney JT3C-6 turbojets, civilian versions of the military J57 model, which produced 12,500 lbf each, allowing a 257,000 lb TOGW. First flight was on 20 December 1954. Other major orders were the launch order for 20 707-121 aircraft by Pan American and an American Airlines order for 30 707-123 aircraft. Pan Am service began the 707 career on 26 October 1958.
707-138: Qantas has been assigned the Boeing customer number of 38. The 13 -138 were based on the -120 but had a 10 foot reduction to the rear fuselage and was capable of increased range.
707-220: Designed for hot and high operations with powerful Pratt & Whitney JT4A-3 turbojets, only five of these were ultimately produced. All were for Braniff International Airways and carried the model number 707-227. This version was made obsolete by the arrival of the turbofan powered 707-120B.
707-320 Intercontinental: A stretched version of the turbojet-powered original model, powered by JT4A-3 turbojets producing 15,800 lbst each. The interior allowed for up to 189 passengers due to a 100 inch stretch, while a longer wing carried more fuel increasing range by 1,600 miles allowing the aircraft to operate as true transoceanic aircraft. Take-off weight was increased to 316,000 lb. First flight was on 11 January 1958 and 69 turbojet -320s were produced.
707-120B: The first major upgrade to the design was a re-engining with JT3D-3 turbofans, which were quieter, more powerful, and more fuel efficient, producing 18,000 lbf each. The aircraft also received extra leading edge slats and the tailplane was enlarged. A totla of 72 of these were built, and many more were converted from 707-120 aircraft, including Qantas' aircraft, which became 707-138B aircraft upon conversion. The first flight of the -120B was on 22 June 1960.
707-320B: A re-engining of the stretched version was undertaken in parallel with the -120B, using the same JT3D-3 turbofans and incorporating many of the same airframe upgrades as well. Take off gross weight was increased to 335,000 lb. 175 of the 707-300B aircraft were produced, as well as upgrades from original -320 models. One of the final orders was by the Iranian Government for 14 707-3J9C aircraft capable of VIP transportation, communication, and inflight refuelling tasks.
707-320B Advanced: A minor improvement made available to -320B aircraft, adding three-section leading edge flaps. These reduced takeoff and landing speeds, and also altered the lift distribution of the wing allowing the ventral fin found on earlier 707s to be removed. The same wing was also used on the -320C.
707-320C: A convertible passenger/freight configuration which ultimately became the most widely produced variant of the 707, the -320C added a strengthened floor and a new cargo door to the -320B model. 335 of these variants were built, including a small number with uprated JT3D-7 engines and a takeoff gross weight of 336,000 lb. Despite the convertible option, a number of these were delivered as pure freighters.
707-420: A version of the 707-320 originally produced at specific request for BOAC and powered by Rolls-Royce Conway 508 turbofans, producing 17,500 lbf each. Although BOAC initiated the programme, Lufthansa was the launch customer and Air India was the first to receive a 707-420 on February 18 1960. A total of 37 were built to this configuration.
707-700: A test aircraft used to study the feasibility of using CFM International's CFM56 powerplants on a 707 airframe and possibly retrofitting them to existing aircraft. After a 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 CFM56 engines to the USAF C-135/KC-135R models, and some military versions of the 707 also used the CFM56. 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.
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 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, although this model designation remained unused until it was applied to the MD-95 following Boeing's merger with McDonnell Douglas. The 720 was used before the Boeing 727 replaced it in the market. First flight was on 23 November 1959 and 64 of the original version were built.
720B: The turbofan-powered version of the 720, with JT3D-1-MC6 turbofans producing 17,000 lbf each. Takeoff gross weight was increased to 235,000 lb. 88 of these were built in addition to conversions of existing 720 models.
RAAF 707-368C, Perth International airport, Australia.
USAF VC-137C SAM 27000
Air Force One, 1988.
USAF E-3 Sentry in flight.The militaries of the United States and other countries have used the civilian 707 aircraft in a variety of roles, and under different designations. (Note: This list does not include the U.S. Air Force's C-135 Stratolifter, as it is not a 707 variant, but rather was developed parallel to the 707 from the original Boeing 367-80.)
C-18: The US military designation for the 707-320C.
C-18A:Eight second-hand (former American Airlines) 707-323Cs bought as crew trainers for the EC-18Bs, four later converted to EC-18B, two converted to EC-18D, one to C-18B and one was not taken into service and used for spares.
C-18B: One C-18A modified with instrumentation and equipment to support the Military Strategic and Tactical Relay System (MILSTAR).
EC-18B: Four C-18As modified alongside the C-135 for Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft ARIA missions in support of the Apollo space program.
EC-18C:Original designation for two prototype J-STAR aircraft, later redesignated E-8A.
EC-18D: Two C-18As modified as a Cruise Missile Mission Control Aircraft (CMMCA).
TC-18E: Two second-hand (former Trans World Airlines) 707-331 aircraft modified for E-3 pilot and crew training.
TC-18F: Two second-hand (former TAP) 707-382 aircraft modified for E-6 pilot training.
C-137 Stratoliner: The USAF purchased a number of 707s under the C-137 series.
VC-137A:Three 707-153s with a 22-passenger VIP interior and provision for use as an airborne command post, re-designated VC-137B.
VC-137B:The three VC-137As re-engined with four JT3D-3 engines, operated by the 89th Military Airlift Wing, redesignated C-137B.
C-137B: The three VC-137Bs redesignated when downgraded from VIP role.
VC-137C: Two 707-353Bs were purchased by the USAF (one in 1961 and one in 1972) for service as a presidential transport with call signs SAM 26000 and SAM 27000, redesignated C-137C.
C-137C: The two VC-137Cs, 20043 and 20297 were redesignated when downgraded from presidential use. Two further C-137Cs were acquired by the USAF, one 707-396C a seized former arms smuggler acquired in 1985 and one 707-382B bought second hand in 1987.
EC-137D: Two aircraft built as Early Warning and Control System prototypes, later re-engined and re-designated E-3A. A further second-hand 707-355C aircraft was acquired and configured as an airborne special operations command post.
CC-137 Husky: Canadian Forces designation for the 707-347C.
KC-137: Aerial refueling tankers purchased by the Brazilian Air Force.
E-3 Sentry: Airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft that provides all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications, to the United States, NATO and other air defense forces. Based on the 707-320B, production ended in 1992 after 68 had been built.
Boeing Sentry AEW1: The Royal Air Force designation for seven E-3D AWACS aircraft.
KE-3A: The Royal Saudi Air Force purchased eight E-3 aircraft configured as aerial refueling tankers.
E-6 Mercury: A version of the 707-320, it operates as an airborne command post and communications center, relaying instructions from the National Command Authority. Its role in relaying to the fleet ballistic missile submarines gives it the suffix TACAMO ("Take Charge and Move Out"). Only one version of the E-6 currently exists, the E-6B. The E-6B is an upgraded version of the E-6A that now includes a battlestaff area for the USSTRATCOM Airborne Command Post
E-8 Joint STARS: The E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) is a USAF airborne battle management and command and control (C2) platform that conducts ground surveillance to develop an under standing of the enemy situation and to support attack operations and targeting that contributes to the delay, disruption and destruction of enemy forces.
707T/T: The 707 Tanker/Transport. Italy purchased and converted four 707s, three to tankers and one to a straight freighter. Only two 707 tankers remain operational as of 2007. Also, Omega Air operates K707 tankers for lease.
Condor: Airborne Early Warning, Command and Control (AEWC&C) aircraft developed in conjunction with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) using a former Lan Chile aircraft.
Although 707s are no longer employed by major airlines 63 aircraft remain in commercial use, mainly with air cargo operators.
In the 1980s, the USAF acquired around 250 used 707s to provide parts for the KC-135E Stratotanker program.
As of August 2007 commercial operators of the Boeing 707 with more than one aircraft include: African Airlines International (4), Air Charter Express (2), Angola Air Charter (3), Azza Transport (2), Beta Cargo (4), Hewa Bora Airways (3), Interair (2), Iran Air (4), Iraqi Airways (2), Libyan Arab Airlines (4), Saha Airlines (4), Sky Aviation FZE (2), Skymaster Airlines (5), Sudan Airways (2), Sudanese States Aviation (2) and TMA (5). American actor John Travolta owns, and is qualified to fly as second in command, an ex-Qantas 707-138B, registration N707JT.
The list of customer codes used by Boeing to identify specific options and trim specified by customers was started with the 707, and has been maintained through all Boeing's models. Essentially the same system as used on the earlier Boeing 377, the code consisted of two digits affixed to the model number to identify the specific aircraft version. For example, Pan American Airlines was assigned code "21." Thus a 707-300B sold to Pan Am had the model number 707-321B. The number remained constant as further aircraft were purchased, thus when Pan American purchased the 747-100 it had the model number 747-121.
The following aircraft are on public display:
N70700 Model 367-80 (Prototype) previously at the Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA now at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Washington, DC.
58-6970 Model 707-153 USAF VC-137B "SAM 970", Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA.
58-6971 Model 707-153 USAF VC-137B Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, AZ.
N751TW Model 707-720, in storage, Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, AZ.
VH-XBA Model 707-138B (No. 29) one of the first 707s exported (sold to Australian airline Qantas in 1959) is on display at the Qantas Founders Outback Museum in Longreach, Queensland, Australia.
F-BLCD Model 707-328B (No. 471) is on display at the Musee de l'Air, Paris, France.
62-7000 Model 707-353B (VC-137C) Air Force One is on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
720 (707-020) 707-120B 707-320B
Passengers 140 110 (2 class)
179 (1 class) 147 (2 class)
202 (1 class)
Max. takeoff weight 222,000 lb (100,800 kg) 257,000 lb (116,570 kg) 333,600 lb (151,320 kg)
Empty weight 103,145 lb 122,533 lb (55,580 kg) 146,400 lb (66,406 kg)
Takeoff run at MTOW 8,300 ft (2,515 m) 11,000 ft (3,330 m) 10,840 ft (3,280 m)
Landing run 5,750 ft (1,740 m) 6,200 ft (1,875 m) 10,840 ft (3,280 m)
Operating range (Max Payload) 3,680 NM (6,800 km) 3,680 NM (6,820 km) 3,735 NM (6,920 km)
Cruising speed 540 kn (999 km/h) 540 kn (1000 km/h) 525 kn (972 km/h)
Length 136 ft 2 in (41.25 m) 144 ft 6 in (44.07 m) 152 ft 11 in (46.61 m)
Wingspan 130 ft 10 in (39.90 m) 145 ft 9 in (44.42 m)
Tail height 41 ft 7 in (12.65 m) 42 ft 5 in (12.93 m)
Fuselage width 12 ft 4 in (3.76 m) 12 ft 4 in (3.76 m) 12 ft 4 in (3.76 m)
Powerplants (4 x) Pratt & Whitney JT3C-7 - 12,000 lbf (53.3 kN) Pratt & Whitney JT3D-1 - 17,000 lbf (75.6 kN) PW JT3D-3 - 18,000 lbf (80 kN)
PW JT3D-7 - 19,000 lbf (84.4 kN)
As of May 2007, the 707 has been in a total of 166 hull-loss occurrences with 2,733 fatalities.
The 707 is mentioned in the songs "Jet Airliner" performed by The Steve Miller Band and written by Paul Pena "Early Morning Rain" by Gordon Lightfoot and "Leaving on a jetplane" performed by Peter Paul and Mary and written by John Denver.
The aircraft also has a major role in the Airport and Airplane films.
Boeing Unveils The 707 - History
Whenever Frank Sinatra sang “Come fly with me, let’s fly, let’s fly away,” the image of a Boeing 707, all etched-white vapour trails jetting across some deep blue transcontinental stratosphere, could never be far from mind. This song was from Sinatra’s album of the same name. It was released in January 1958, a month after the epochal, swept-wing jet airliner made its maiden flight. Before the year was out, the sleek 707 was in service with Pan-Am. It was to change the way we fly and see the world.
Curiously, the graphic designer working for Capitol Records appeared to have been behind the times. The artwork for Come Fly With Me shows a snappily dressed Sinatra taking the hand of a girl as he cocks his thumb towards a TWA Lockheed Constellation, the last of the great American piston-engine airliners. Constellations were to be pushed aside by the all-conquering 707, an aircraft synonymous with the new jet age and a design that led, step by rapid step, to the Boeing 747 ‘Jumbo Jet’ and the era of mass air-travel. The 707 might have been one of the most glamorous of all forms of transport when it entered service with Pan-Am, yet its very success led ultimately to the horrendous and heartbreakingly banal conditions the majority of us fly in today.
As for Sinatra, he so admired the new 707 – the aircraft that should have been on the sleeve of Come Fly With Me – that he bought his very own. This was an ex-Qantas 707, built in 1964, that, since 1998, has belonged to John Travolta, Hollywood star and pilot. Travolta’s estate in Florida has its own runway. Some people like to gaze at the curves of their prize classic car, or latest Ferrari: Travolta opts for the sight of a four-engine, 600mph jet.
Pan-Am introduced the Boeing 707 in 1957, inaugurating the jet age (Everett Collection Historical/Alamy)
The 707 began as a discussion and some sketches in 1949 when Boeing engineers Ed Wells, George Schairer and John Alexander began thinking about a swept-wing jet airliner. Boeing was an innovative company and its military aircraft were second to none. Ed Wells, for example, appointed Boeing’s chief engineer in 1943, had worked on the design of the famous B-17 Flying Fortress bomber of which 12,731 were built. Boeing’s subsequent B-29 Superfortress, B-47 Stratojet and B-52 Stratofortress bombers were all aviation milestones and commercially successful. In the field of civil aviation, however, Boeing played a very junior fiddle to its rivals Douglas, of DC-3 or ‘Dakota’ fame, and Lockheed, with its pre-war Electra and post-war Constellation. In fact, Boeing had lost money on virtually all its airliners including its latest, and last, piston-engine design, the 377 Stratocruiser of which just 46 were built for a deficit of $13.5m.
The British were first to build a jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet. It went into service with BOAC in 1952, but several fatal accidents caused by airframe failure led to its withdrawal. The French and the Russians were pushing ahead with jet designs, but the tussle for the global market was essentially between Douglas and Boeing.
Boeing was first into the air with its 367-80, or ‘Dash 80’, the prototype of the 707 which made its maiden flight in July 1954. Powered by a version of the same Pratt & Whitney turbojets fitted to USAF F-100 Super-Sabre fighter jets and B-52 Stratofortresses, the Dash 80 was very fast. No passenger aircraft had flown at 550mph in level flight before. It could handle, too. In August 1955, Tex Johnston, Boeing’s chief test pilot, barrel-rolled the precious aircraft over Lake Washington. While this is not something any of us would want our pilots to do while we toy with cocktails at 35,000ft over the Atlantic, potential buyers watching from the ground that summer day could hardly fail to have been impressed.
Boeing’s 367-80, or Dash 80, the prototype of the 707, made its maiden flight in July 1954. (Smithsonian Air and Space Museum)
The race was still on, though, between Douglas, which had yet to build its superficially identical DC-8, and Boeing. Pan-Am, the airline forever associated with the 707, ordered 20 707s and, at the very same time, 25 DC-8s. What was holding Boeing back was the fact that the 707 was narrower and slightly smaller than the DC-8. When William Allen, Boeing’s president offered American Airlines an extra half-inch in width over the DC-8, he won an order for fifty 707s. From that moment, the sales success of the Boeing was assured.
Boeing built 1,010 707s for commercial airlines between 1958 and 1978, and a further 800 for the military up until 1991, while Douglas assembled 556 DC-8s between 1958 and 1972. Allen had invested, or, as the media liked to say, gambled, $135m on the 707 programme, or more than the net worth of Boeing at the time. Although 707s were not particularly profitable – there were many variations and the company bent over backwards to please customers – the aircraft’s dominance of intercontinental flight in the 1960s led to profitable future airliners, including the Jumbo, and to a point when three-quarters of all civil airliners were Boeings.
A lyrical promotional film from 1959, The Wonderful Jet World of Pan-American, captures the magic of flying by 707 in an era when passengers dressed up to fly, when aircrews were seen as glamorous and when the age of ‘no frills’ budget airlines was all but inconceivable. What is fascinating is just how much attention Pan-Am devoted to its beloved airliners. Today, the millions of casually dressed passengers squeezed onto lookalike aircraft rarely glance at the machines that will wing them across continents. Airlines, meanwhile, sell themselves through cheap fares, in-flight entertainment and destinations rather than aircraft themselves. Boeing, though, has persevered, promoting its latest 787 as the ‘Dreamliner’, even when most flights are nightmares.
John Travolta owns a 707, which he keeps at his home in Anthony, Florida (Bruce Ackerman/Rex)
The Boeing 707 had, of course, been designed for a less crowded age. Even so, it was stretched over time with later models seating up to 189 passengers. The airlines it served from the beginning – Pan-Am, TWA – have long gone, while Saha Air, an airline based in Tehran, ceased active operations last year, and with it the world’s last 707s in regular passenger service.
Hugely popular in its heyday, and a symbol of a new, high-flying age powered by forward-looking technology and design, the 707 featured not just in films and songs, but in fashionable product launches like Jantzen’s 1957 ‘707’ swimwear. Films like Boeing, Boeing (1965), starring Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis are probably best forgotten – Come Fly With Me, a British effort from 1963 is far worse – but the aircraft itself remains a superb achievement, a magnificent commercial gamble and a truly great design. “If it ain’t Boeing”, went the cliche, “I’m not going”. The 707 was not perfect – by today’s standards it was a noisy gas guzzler, but for better or worse it changed the way we fly.
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