DALLAS – Today in Aviation, the American-built, three-engined Boeing 727 entered service with launch customer Eastern Air Lines in 1964.
The carrier introduced the type on the Philadelphia (PHL) to Miami (MIA) via Washington (DCA) route.
The Boeing 727 was conceived in the late 1950s after a request from United Airlines (UA), American Airlines (AA) and Eastern Airlines (EA). EA wanted a trijet design for its overwater flights o the Caribbean. At this time, twin-engined operations were limited to a 60-minute maximum flying time.
All three airlines significantly impacted the 727s final design and even engine choice. Initially, the jet was to be powered by Rolls Royce RB163 Spey engines. However, EA and UA pushed for the Pratt & Whitney JT8D power plant, which eventually became the standard engine type.
The airliner was officially launched on December 5, 1960, following an order for 40 examples from both EA and UA. However, initial sales of the -100 series were slow. Boeing decided to develop a stretched variant, the -200. This first flew in July 1967, and EA introduced the type into service in 1968. Eastern would go on to operate 75 -100s and 99 -200s, flying both until the carrier’s demise in 1991.
Dubbed the ‘Whisperjet’ in the EA fleet, its title was a far cry from the noise the aircraft made. Indeed the 727 was one of the noisiest commercial airliners in the world. Following the US Noise Pollution and Abatement Act of 1972, the aircraft was categorised as Stage 2.
The Boeing 727 was not the only airliner for which EA would be the launch customer. The iconic carrier launched the Boeing 757, Douglas DC-8-30, Lockheed Electra, and L-1011 Tristar.
Featured image: Shortly after the 727 joined the fleet, EA introduced its iconic ‘hockey stick’ livery. Boeing 727-25 N8125N of Eastern Airlines at New York JFK in 1970. Photo: RuthAS, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Check out our March 2022 issue where David H. Stringer takes a look at Eastern Air Lines in the 1960s, the decade when the Miami-based carrier was ‘Number One to the Sun.’