Boeing 727 Completes Its Last Ever Commercial Flight

After a long career in the aviation industry, the last B727 in commercial service has retired. Operating for Iran Aseman Airlines, the aircraft was manufactured almost 39 years ago in April 1980. This flight marked the end of the B727 program which made it’s first flight 56 years ago. Unlike the failed tri-jet B747, the B727 was the most widely sold jet when production was halted in 1984. When production of the jet was wrapped up, 1,831 jets had been built by American aerospace giant Boeing.

The B727 had three engines, with one embedded in the vertical stabiliser. Photo: Iberia

Rear Airstairs

The B727 was well known for its rear stairs. These were used to give access to the aircraft while on the ground. On November 24th 1971 a B727 was hijacked between Portland and Seattle. After extorting a ransom of $200,000 the suspect, known by his alias of Dan Cooper, is said to have parachuted out of the rear exit. This wasn’t the only B727 hijacking to use this escape method. However, following this particular incident, modifications were undertaken to stop the airstairs being lowered during flight. These were called Cooper Vanes after Dan Cooper.

B727 Cooper Vane
The Cooper Vane was installed on B727s to stop the airstairs opening during flight.

Final B727 Passenger Flight

The final B727 passenger flight was operated by Iran Aseman Airlines. The flight operated from Zahedan to Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran. The domestic flight lasted for around 2 hours on Sunday 13th of January. The news comes at a time when many airlines such as British Airways and Hawaiian Airlines are retiring their B767s. The B767 is only as old as the B727 which was retired last week.

Despite there being no more scheduled B727 passenger services, the aircraft could still be seen here and there. A few freight and charter operators still operate the aircraft here and there. It’s quite common for aircraft to be converted to freighters when they are retired from service. However, due to the age of the B727, this particular aircraft will likely be taken to a scrap yard.

Is 39 Years Old For An Aircraft?

Quite simply, for a passenger aircraft, 39 years is quite old. KLM recently retired the world’s oldest operating B747 which was 30 years old. Passenger aircraft are usually retired by major operators after around 20-25 years in service. This is certainly the case with British Airways and their plans to retire the B747 from the fleet. After this, passenger aircraft can be converted to freighters.

B727 Retires
Singapore Airlines has already retired their first A380. Photo: Airbus.

However, some aircraft aren’t so lucky. Earlier this month, Simple Flying reported that the first A380s were already being sent to be scrapped. After 11 years in service with Singapore Airlines, the A380 was retired and sent to an Aviation Graveyard. This is despite the aircraft being designed with the life span of 25 years in mind.

Did you fly on a B727? Share your B727 stories with us in the comments down below!