Boeing’s famous trijet 727 makes last commercial flight

Boeing 727

(CNN) — Air travelers will no longer be able to enjoy the Boeing 727’s distinctive design after the jet made its last commercial passenger flight.

Flying a domestic Iranian route, a 38-year-old Boeing 727-200 owned by Iran Aseman Airlines entered the history books in mid-January after a journey documented by journalist Babak Taghvaee on Twitter.

With a raked T-shaped tail and three engines, the 727 drew plenty of attention when it launched in 1962.

The design also served a practical purpose, with the mid-size plane aimed at smaller cities where airports had smaller runways that couldn’t handle the larger 707 jet.

“Its three, rear-mounted engines made it versatile for operators able to take off and land on short runways but still have the range for transoceanic routes,” Murdo Morrison, head of strategic content at aviation intelligence specialist FlightGlobal, told CNN via email.

Boeing had initially planned to build 250 of the aircraft, according to the company website.

However, after a slow start, orders for the 727 went through the roof.

Before long the 727 became the first commercial jet design to sell over a thousand airplanes, and 1,832 were eventually built and sold, according to Boeing.

After starting life as a commercial airliner, the 727 has seen its role evolve over time.

“From the mid-1980s, when production ended, the 727 was seen as increasingly noisy and inefficient compared with some of its newer rivals, and many major airlines began phasing the type out from the 1990s,” said Morrison.

“However, it has enjoyed a long second life, with around 60 still operating as freighters, VIP transports or as research aircraft more than half a century after the type entered service.”

One 727 still in service is operated by a UK-based outfit called Oil Spill Response, which disperses oil slicks by dispensing petroleum-eating detergent why flying as low as 150 feet above the water.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Oil-Spill-Response-727.png
Oil Spill Response still operates a 727 to tackle oil slicks.

Known as three-holers, airplanes with a triple engine configuration have a huge following among aviation enthusiasts. Another, the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 is still serving in cargo fleets operated by FedEx and Lufthansa.

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