Boeing 707

The Boeing 707 was the United States' first production jet airliner, and the aircraft with which the US first gained the lead in commercial jet manufacture.

It has remained in continuous production since the mid-1950s until 1977. It was not the first US transport aircraft to be jet-powered; that distinction belonged to the experimental military XC-123A powered assault glider.

A TWA Boeing 707-331B ready to taxi

From the start the 707 had accommodation for approximately four times as many passengers as the original British de Havilland Comet I, as well as a considerably higher maximum speed. This, combined with a temporary setback to the British aircraft, helped establish the 707 in World-Wide service. The developed Comet 4 was first to open a transatlantic passenger jet service, on October 4,1958, but the 707s of Pan American followed from October 26,1958 and went on to inaugurate the first round the world jet passenger service on October 10,1959.

The prototype first (Boeing Model 367-80) flew on 15 July 1954, and the initial aircraft off the production line were military KC-135A flight refuelling tanker/transports.

Only a short time elapsed before commercial versions were built, a flood of orders from airlines all over the world being sparked off by a large contract placed by Pan American. Production cantered on two major series, the 707-120 medium-range versions for up to 181 passengers, and 707-320 long-range versions for 189 to more than 200 passengers. By the spring of 1977 total sales of the 707 stood at 920, operating in every continent of the world.

This original Boeing 707 was followed by a whole family of 707 passenger and cargo variants, with different lengths and weights, and turbofan power. The passenger carrying 707-320B and passenger/cargo 707-320C models were still in production in 1977. Also developed was the short-to-medium-range version known as the Boeing 720 or, with turbofans, 720B. By the end of October 1976, 920 Boeing 707s and 720s of all models had been ordered, and they had flown more than 30 million hours and carried just under 522 million passengers.

The first production airplane of the Boeing 707 commercial jet series made its maiden flight December 20, 1957, with Pan American World Airways putting the airplane into transoceanic service October 26, 1958, and American Airlines following with transcontinental service January 25, 1959.

The prototype jet airliner, built as a private venture by Boeing at a cost of more than $16,000,000, amassed more than 1000 hours in its four years of flight testing, while the first three of the production airplanes used for Civil Aeronautics Administration certification testing raised the overall total to more than 1650 hours. In addition, the new jet transports benefited by the thousands of hours of flight time logged by their military counterpart, the Boeing KC-135 jet multipurpose tanker-transports which went into service in 1957.

Including the prototype, there are eight Boeing jet airliners; the others are the 707-120, the 707-120B, the 707-220, the 707-320, the 707-420, the 720 and the 720B. Weighing in at 248,000 pounds as compared with the prototype's 190,000, the 120 is principally intended for continental use. The 220 is identical in airframe and body size to the 120, but is powered by Pratt & Whitney JT4 turbojet engines, larger and of greater thrust than the JT3. The "B" airplanes use Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofan engines.

SPECIFICATIONS (120): Span 130 ft. 10 in.; Height 42 ft.; Length 144 ft. 6 in.; Engines Four Pratt & Whitney JT3C-6 turbojet, more than 10,000 lb. thrust; Gear tricycle, main undercarriage units, four-wheel trucks, dual nose wheels.

PERFORMANCE: Cruise Speed 591 mph; Cruising Altitude 25,000 to 40,000 ft.The 320 and the 420 are the Intercontinental 707s, which partially fulfil the growth potential Boeing designed into the basic 707 series. Weighing more than 295,000 pounds, they are 8 feet, 5 inches longer overall than the 120, 220, and 720, have 11 feet 7 inches more wingspan, and 500 square feet of additional wing area. Fuselage diameter, 148 inches, is the same in all models. Only difference between the 320 and 420 is the engines, the former using Pratt & Whitney JT4s and the latter Rolls-Royce "Conways."

SPECIFICATIONS INTERCONTINENTAL: Span 142 ft. 5 in.; Height 42 ft.; Length 152 ft. 11 in.; Engines Four Pratt & Whitney JT4 or Rolls Royce Conway turbojets, more than 10,000 Lb, thrust; Gear tricycle, main undercarriage units, four-wheel trucks, dual nose wheels.

PERFORMANCE: Cruise Speed 591 mph; Cruising Altitude 25,000 to 40,000 ft.

Designed to operate profitably in the medium range area, the Boeing 720 combines low cost with excellent operational flexibility. Associated with its capability to operate over existing route segments is the ability of the 720 to utilize present runways and terminal facilities throughout the entire airline system. The 720 offers a high level of safety, ease of maintenance and inspection, long life, minimum structural weight and reliability based on experience and extensive test programs. The seats are mounted on continuous tracks recessed in the floor, allowing use of four, five and six-abreast seating. In less than ten minutes each row of seats and its accompanying overhead service unit can be repositioned or replaced. Windows are spaced at 20-inch intervals to insure an unobstructed view regardless of seat spacing. This flexibility permits a choice of seating combinations ranging from the luxurious four-abreast interior to the six-abreast, 149-passenger tourist arrangement.

SPECIFICATIONS: Span 130 ft. 10 in; Length 136ft. 2 in.; Height 41 ft. 6.5 in.; Empty Weight 103,145 Lb.; Engines Four Pratt & Whitney JT3C-7; Fuel Capacity 11,500 gal.; Wing Area 2433 sq. ft.

PERFORMANCE: Maximum Speed more than 600 mph; Maximum Range 3300 mi.; Cruising Altitude 15,000 to 40,000 ft.