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35 years of 727 operations ending at FedEx

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posted on Jun, 4 2013 @ 07:02 PM
The last flights of the Boeing 727 with FedEx will take place July 1st. Tentatively scheduled on the flights are N469FE and N482FE, both built in 1978. FedEx took the last 15 727s built, and the only ones built as freighters. Unfortunately, they sold N217FE (the last 727 to come off the line) in 2012 so it can't make the final flight. Their last 727 was acquired in 1993, and they had 167 in inventory at that time.

Aviation Week has learned that FedEx plans to end 727 operations on July 1, 2013, ending 35 years of operation by the carrier.

FedEx acquired its first 727 in 1978 and has flown the type continuously since then. FedEx acquired its last 727 in 1993 and operated 167 of the type at its peak that year.
Aviation Week has also learned that two 727s (N469FE and N482FE, both 1978 models) are tentatively scheduled to be flying the last flights.

FedEx had the distinction of receiving the last 15 727s off the production line, which were also the only pure-freighter 727s that Boeing built. The last 727 off the production line, N217FE, was sold by FedEx in late 2012 and unfortunately isn't a candidate for the all-too-fitting last flight honors.


The 727 was, and still is an amazing aircraft. I got to fly on one when I was younger, and it was actually a pretty nice flight. It was an extremely difficult aircraft for pilots to learn because it was so fast on landing, which led to several fatal crashes, but all in all it was an extremely reliable aircraft, that after it was gotten used to, had a pretty good safety record.

posted on Jun, 4 2013 @ 07:11 PM
reply to post by Zaphod58

I always loved the 727. Flew a few times as a PX on it. But just the "looks" of it made me fall in love with it. The 727 and the old "Caravelle" are in my eyes the most beautiful PX jets ever built, with the Comet ranking 3rd.

posted on Jun, 4 2013 @ 07:27 PM
reply to post by Guenter

I actually got to go on one of the early Comets. They were preparing to retire it to a museum, and the RAF was flying it on an around the world farewell tour. It was an amazing aircraft, but seeing the cockpit of that, and the B-57 really made me realize just how spoiled pilots are now. They weren't even basic compared to today's cockpits.

posted on Jun, 4 2013 @ 07:34 PM
reply to post by Zaphod58

LOL - re; Spoiled
Well one had to fly with brains back then.

Not to forget the VC-10 / IL-64 as "classic" lines.
edit on 4-6-2013 by Guenter because: forgot to add ...

posted on Jun, 8 2013 @ 08:47 AM
Is that it for the 727 completely now, or are there still others flying with other operators? I was shocked to learn that BA was retiring the 757 a few months ago, you may remember it was developed as the '727 replacement' in the early 1980's and it still feels new to me, lol.

Here is an old thread of mine which gives an alternative perspective of both models. Glad us brits could invent them for you

Joking of course, asa hopefully a read of that old post should make clear

posted on Jun, 8 2013 @ 10:11 AM
I helped put the cargo door in three of Fed Ex's 727s in 1989. It was interesting how it was done. We had to build the internal structure piece by piece in order to maintain the aircraft's structural integrity. The last part was to cut through the skin with a Ketts saw.

posted on Jun, 8 2013 @ 10:26 AM
reply to post by JIMC5499

I guess that was to keep everything aligned? Interesting technique, my dad once did something similar on our shed when he wanted an extra door

posted on Jun, 8 2013 @ 10:38 AM
reply to post by waynos

There are still a handful in use, some in South America, a few still with cargo carriers, but I believe less than 50 are left flying.

posted on Jun, 8 2013 @ 02:44 PM
I recall many years ago, a 747 pilot rode the "guest seat' in a 737 up in British Columbia where there's a few rather difficult approaches to the regional airports. He apparently, was squirming in his seat as he was used to 747s and the eyes widened at normal state of affairs these "hot-rods" seemed to operate.

Didn't they have a great T/W ratio and actually capable of some aerobatic moves?

posted on Jun, 12 2013 @ 08:26 PM
reply to post by nwtrucker

Duh, I hate getting old. 727s not 737s. need some brain food....

posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 01:07 AM
reply to post by nwtrucker

Sorry to take awhile to answer your previous question, life hadn't kicked me in the head lately, so it took care of that for me.

Yes, the thrust to weight ratio for the 727 was pretty high. It also had a high landing speed that directly led to several accidents in the early days of the program. It took quite awhile for the crews to get used to the higher speeds, and higher performance of the aircraft, over prior aircraft.

posted on Jun, 13 2013 @ 09:32 AM
The early issues with the 727 were related to unstabilized approaches, slow engine spool up speeds, and large amounts of drag when using flaps 40. This was due to the engines used at the time, pilot training, and because the flaps (triple slot) were particularly draggy to keep the approach speed low despite a very swept wing. Some airlines even prevented flaps 40 from being used, partially due to this issue.

Modern aircraft have similar approach speeds, but typically with far less wing sweep, far less complex flaps, leading to less drag. Training is also much better. Actually plenty of airlines and airliners have monitoring equipment enabled, designed to catch pilots who repeatedly break standard operating procedure, by for example, detecting unstabilized approaches. Typical parameters might be when during landing, the aircraft isn't in landing configuration, the engines aren't spooled up, or excess vertical speed.
edit on 13/6/13 by C0bzz because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 23 2013 @ 08:20 AM
Used to love the 727s. Flew on more than my fair share of them in my time. Back in the mid 80s my father used to fly them for many a wealthy Arab. Spent most of my early years onboard those big old beasts. Shame to see FedEx putting them to bed.

posted on Jun, 23 2013 @ 09:09 AM
Dang....Their goners....we had a nickname for the three hole smut butt....nasty pilots back then....

To my recolection...the 727's disappeared too quickly....

posted on Jun, 23 2013 @ 10:28 AM
The Things With Wings blog over on Aviation Week had pictures of the final flight arrival.


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