[ Back ] [ Up ] [ Next ]
The Boeing 707 is a four engined commercial passenger jet
aircraft developed by Boeing in the early 1950s. Although it
was not the first commercial jet airliner in service (that distinction
belongs to the De Havilland Comet), it was the first to be commercially
successful, and is credited by many as ushering in the "Jet Age", as well as
being the first of Boeing's 7x7 range of airliners.
BOAC 707 at Heathrow Airport London in 1964
The 707 was based on a prototype Boeing aircraft known as the Boeing
367-80. The "Dash 80," as it was called within Boeing, cost $16 million to
develop and took less than two years from project launch in 1952 to rollout on
May 14, 1954. The prototype was the basis for both the KC-135, an air
tanker used by the United States Air Force, and the 707. To enable the
fitting of six-abreast seats, the 707's fuselage was widened by 6 inches (150
mm) compared to the original 367-80.
On August 6th, 1955, Boeing test pilot Tex Johnston performed a "Barrel roll"
in the Dash-80 at 500 feet (he gained altitude to 1500 feet during the roll) not
once, but twice (this story apears on a video called 'Frontiers of Flight - The
Jet Airliner', produced by the National Air and Space Museum in association with
the Smithsonian Institution in 1992). To date Tex is the only pilot to have
performed this in a four engine jet transport (of course, other big four engine
jet aircraft have done barrel rolls. The Vulcan XA890 was rolled by Roly Falk on
the first day of the '55 Farnborough Airshow, but it was a subsonic bomber).
Pan Am was the first airline to operate the 707; the aircraft's first
commercial flight was from New York to Paris on October 26, 1958. American
Airlines operated the first transcontinental 707 flight on January 25, 1959.
Many other airlines followed, and the 707 quickly became the most popular
jetliner of its time, edging out its main competitor, the Douglas DC-8.
As the 1960s drew to a close, the exponential growth in air travel led to the
707 being a victim of its own success. It had become obvious that the 707 was
now too small to handle the passenger densities on the routes for which it was
designed. Stretching the fuselage was not a viable option because the 707's
limited ground clearance made the installation of a larger undercarriage almost
impossible. Boeing's answer to the problem was the first twin aisle airliner -
the 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 (the 767 acted as its
partial replacement). In total, 1,010 707s were built for civil use. The
military versions remained in production until 1991.
Traces of the 707 are still in many of Boeing's current products, most
notably the 737, which uses a modified version of the 707's fuselage. In
fact, if the 707 were still in production it would have probably evolved into
what is now the 737-900, which is arguably a modernized 707 with two Turbofan
high bypass ratio engines replacing the original four Turbojet engines.
Interestingly the Chinese government sponsored development of the Shanghai
Y-10 during the 1970s, which was a near carbon-copy of the 707.
A KC-135 Stratotanker refuels a F/A-22 Raptor
Although 707s are no longer employed by major US airlines, many can still be
found in service with smaller non-US airlines, charter services and air cargo
The first two aircraft built to serve as Air Force One were
custom-built Boeing 707s; these were also used by high-ranking federal officials
on official trips. Many other countries use the 707 as a VIP transport,
including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, the Republic of
Congo, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Italy,
Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Venezuela.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) operated a number of 707's that
were specially modified for VIP use before replacing them with modified 737's.
The U.S. and other NATO-aligned countries, as well as South Africa
and Israel, have used the 707 platform for aerial refueling (KC-135) and
AWACS (E-3 Sentry), although many of these aircraft are now being phased out.
The Royal Australian Air force (RAAF) operates 707's as refuellers for
Australia's FA/18 Hornets; these are soon to be replaced by Airbus A330 MRTT's.
The 707 is also the platform for the United States Air Force's Joint STARS
project, and the United States Navy's E-6 Mercury.
|Max. takeoff weight
||257,000 lb (116,570 kg)
||333,600 lb (151,320 kg)
||122,533 lb (55,580 kg)
||146,400 lb (66,406 kg)
|Operating range (Max Payload)
||3,680 nautical miles (6,820 km)
||3,735 nautical miles (6,920 km)
||540 kt (1000 km/h)
||525 kt (972 km/h)
||144 ft 6 in (44.07 m)
||152 ft 11 in (46.61 m)
||130 ft 10 in (39.90 m)
||145 ft 9 in (44.42 m)
||42 ft 5 in (12.93 m)
||Four 75.6 kN (17,000 lbf) Pratt & Whitney JT3D-1 turbofans.
||Four 80 kN (18,000 lbf) JT3D-3s or four 84.4 kN (19,000 lbf) JT3D-7s.
[ Boeing 767 ] [ Boeing 707 ] [ E-3 AWACS ] [ E-2 Hawkeye ] [ E-10 MC2A ]