The Story Of Nagpur Airport’s Abandoned Boeing 720

For over 24 years, Nagpur Airport had an unwelcome guest near its runway: a Boeing 720. The plane landed at the airport due to an emergency in 1991 and was never flown back after. The 720 had an interesting history, flying for airlines globally before finally reaching private hands. Here’s a story of Nagpur Airport’s Boeing 720.

Conair Boeing 720
The Boeing 720 started its life in the US before moving to Europe and eventually into private hands. Photo: Eduard Marmet via Wikimedia Commons

Touch down

On 21st July 1991, a Boeing 720 landed at Nagpur Airport. The plane requested emergency permission to land due to engine issues, which was granted. At the time, the plane was flying as a private jet, registered to Continental Aviation Private Limited (CAPL) – no relation to airlines of the same name.

Usually, such a landing would be followed up by the deployment of a maintenance team to find and correct the engine issues. However, this does not seem to have happened. Instead, the 720 was left next to the runway of Nagpur Airport. The plane’s presence dragged on for months and then years, and until 2015 it had still not moved.

Lufthansa Boeing 720 Getty
The Boeing 720 was a derivative of the 707, and its lighter design allowed for operations from shorter runways. Photo: Getty Images

With the plane’s owner no longer interested in taking back his aging jet, the aircraft was stuck at Nagpur. Parking fees were quickly adding up too, but with CAPL not paying, the issue went before the Mumbai High Court.

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Operations

Caught in a legal battle, the Boeing 720 was stuck in Nagpur Airport. As flight traffic picking up in the coming decades, the position of the plane became a growing concern. In 1993, the plane was moved just 90 meters away from the runway, far closer than the 150 minimum set for obstructions near the runway. The distance is set to ensure that any plane deviating from the runway does not crash into a large object, a grave threat.

According to the Times of India, the private owners of Nagpur Airport refused to move the plane, despite repeated warnings from regulator DGCA. It took until July 2011, when the DGCA threatened to take away the airport operator’s license, to move the plane to a safe distance of 600 meters away from the runway.

Conair Boeing 720
The former Conair Boeing 720 did move out of harm’s way but remained trouble for the airport. Photo: Piergiuliano Chesi via Wikimedia Commons

However, only in 2015 did Nagpur Airport took the long-overdue step of removing the plane from its premises. According to Nagpur Today, the new airport director decided to finally move the plane and completed the project in just 30 minutes.

On 29th September, the 720 made its way from the airport to the Nagpur Flying Club. All it took was a set of fresh tires to tug the plane to its new home after 24 years of sitting on the ground and threatening airport operations.

History

According to Planelogger, the Boeing 720 started its life at Eastern Airlines in the US as N8705E in September 1961. Just under a decade later, the plane returned to Boeing for refurbishing and onward sale. Next, the plane arrived with Conair of Scandinavia, a Danish carrier, in January 1970 as OY-DSL. 11 years later, the plane returned to the US to fly for Atlanta Skylarks as N7229L. Finally, it was re-registered to VT-ERS with CAPL.

The Boeing 720 reached India in 1990, a full 30 years after its delivery to Eastern. Sadly, it flew only one year before becoming stuck in Nagpur Airport for the rest of its life.

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