In what will probably go down as arson, an ex-Mexicana Boeing 727-200 was set ablaze on Sunday, practically destroying the entire aircraft. The incident occurred at around 20:00 in Laguna del Carpintero in the heart of Tampico, a city in the southeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas.
Firefighters from the Tampico fire department arrived on the scene with three fire engines, only to see the former Mexicana aircraft consumed in flames. With thick black smoke billowing out of the cabin, the fire was visible to residents of adjacent neighborhoods, some of whom appeared to take photos to share around.
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Vandalism is to blame for the fire
After the fire was eventually extinguished, Civil Protection members on the scene confirmed that they found no evidence of an accelerant (gasoline). However, they still believed vandals had deliberately started the fire as a prank.
Asi terminó sus días el último @Boeing 727 en volar para @mexicana_com luego de ser incendiado en #Tampico sin que el municipio a cargo de @ChuchoNader o el @gobtam resguardar esta pieza histórica de la aviación @SCT_mx @tampico pic.twitter.com/30F6tvfUUk
— Aviation Mex (@Aviationmex) July 19, 2020
The aircraft in question was a 41-year-old Boeing 727-200 registration number XA-MEB which made its maiden flight in 1979. Named “Zacatecas”, after a state in north-central Mexico, the aircraft was donated to Tampico in 2005, where it was supposed to be a central attraction in a new eco-park. Sadly the project never came to fruition, and the plane just sat, abandoned.
About the Boeing 727
In its day, the Boeing 727 was a revolutionary aircraft designed to operate out of smaller airports that had runways not long enough to handle Boeing 707s. Boeing needed to create a plane that could descend quickly into airports while at the same time avoiding structures close to the runway. The engineers at Boeing came up with a unique flap system that would provide extra lift at low speeds allowing the 727 to land at airports planes of a similar size could not.
In 1965 the triple-engine jet suffered three crashes yet was never grounded despite calls to do so. Investigators looking into the crashes determined that they were all down to pilot error due to a lack of understanding of how the new flap system worked. Pilots not accustomed to the extra lift at low speeds were landing too fast. Boeing made the appropriate changes to the flight manual, explaining what needed to be done on the final approach.
In another first for the triple-engine narrow-body jet, Boeing installed an auxiliary power unit (APU) that eliminated the need for a ground power supply to start the engines. This proved to be a huge selling point with airlines that operated out of remote locations. By the time production ended in 1984, Boeing had sold 1,831 727s making it their best-ever selling aircraft until it was surpassed by the Boeing 737 in the early 1990s.
Founded July 12, 1921, Compañía Mexicana de Aviación (Mexicana) was Mexico’s oldest airline and the first commercial airline in North America. As Mexico’s flagship airline, Mexicana operated out of its central hub at Mexico City International Airport (MEX) and from other bases at Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Guadalajara International Airport(GDL) and Cancún International Airport(CUN).
Competing against rival Aeromexico, even though they both codeshared on some flights, Mexicana’s debts grew until the airline finally had to declare Concurso Mercantil (Mexican law equivalent to US Chapter 11) and US Chapter 15 on August 3, 2010. The filing followed numerous labor disputes and a debt reported at being $125 million.
The Boeing 727 could have been a great tourist attraction
It is such a shame that vandals decided to set fire to what could have been a great tourist attraction and is a lesson to other entities looking to acquire retired aircraft.
What do you think about the Boeing 727 fire? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.