4/13/1973: Dan-Air Operates First Boeing 727

4/13/1973: Dan-Air Operates First Boeing 727

DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Dan-Air (DA) became the first British airline to operate the Boeing 727 in 1973. Its inaugural revenue flight departed Manchester (MAN) bound for Alicante (ALC).

Despite being the world’s best-selling airliner at the time, airlines in the UK had been slow to operate the trijet. 

In November 1972, DA purchased three former Japan Airlines (JL) 727-100s. The carrier wanted an aircraft to replace its fuel-hungry de Havilland Comets. G-BAFZ was the first aircraft to arrive, followed by G-BAEF and G-BAJW. 

An additional overwing exit was added to the -100 series to accommodate the increased seating capacity. (Photo: Tim Rees (GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html or GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html), via Wikimedia Commons)

Major Modifications

Before the type could be introduced into service, the 727s would need to be modified to be allowed to operate on the British civil aircraft register. 

This included introducing a stall warning system known as a “stick pusher.” The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had demanded that all aircraft with a T-tail have a stall protection system. This followed several deep stall incidents with this type of aircraft. This cost DA an estimated £100,000 per aircraft.

The passenger cabin was also reconfigured to accommodate 153 passengers. Engineers also installed an additional over-wing emergency exit to accommodate the increased number of seats. DA also required an extra fuel tank to allow the aircraft to fly from Berlin, where the airline was a major operator, to Tenerife non-stop and without restrictions. 

The 189-seat -200 series joined the fleet in March 1980. (Photo: G B_NZ, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Enter The -200 Advanced

In March 1980, DA welcomed the larger -200 series Advanced into its fleet. G-BHNE was purchased from Sterling Airways (NB). 

However, the trijets proved to be a financial burden for DA. The airline’s last Chairman, David James, said: “The Boeing 727s were a terrible burden. They were so expensive to fly. we were flying them just to pay to keep them flying.”

The last -100 series was retired on October 31, 1990. Seven -200s would survive until the airline was taken over by British Airways (BA) in 1992. DA’s final -200 flight took place on November 1, 1992, between London Gatwick (LGW) and Oslo Fornebu Airport (FBU). 

Featured image: G-BAFZ was the airline’s maiden Boeing 727. Photo: Piergiuliano Chesi, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

European Deputy Editor
Writer and aviation fanatic, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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