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B727 & Tu-154: What Made Them So Successful?  
User currently offlineLVZXV From Gabon, joined Mar 2004, 2041 posts, RR: 37
Posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 4354 times:

Just a thought: If the L-1011, DC-10 and MD-11 only sold a combined total 836* examples, what made the B727 and Tu-154--especially as trijets--so successful (such that the -154 is still in production!), with combined sales nearing 3,000? Fluke or engineering genius?

*not counting KC-10s.

XV




How do you say "12 months" in Estonian?
20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 957 posts, RR: 51
Reply 1, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 4287 times:

The L1011 was plagued with engine trouble with the RB211, this slowed production down and ruined potential orders. Otherwise it was a fine aircraft. The DC10 was a fine aircraft, but the MD11 was a poor update that never lived up to its performance expectations, especially in the face of the all-new A340 and 777.

The 727 was sucessful because it opened up jet-travel to markets that were too big for the DC8/707. It was economical enough to replace prop aircraft, was reliable, carried a great payload, had good range, and was an all around amazing aircraft for its time. If it was not for 9/11 and noise restrctions, many would still fly today.


User currently onlineMSYtristar From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 6515 posts, RR: 51
Reply 2, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 4277 times:

The B727 was an extremely versatile airplane. It could handle both short hops and longer hauls effectively. It was cheaper to operate then the B707 and could operate from fields where the 707 would have trouble flying to/from thanks to its advanced flap system. The 727 was a tough plane that could take pretty much anything that was thrown at it so to speak. An old workhorse to be certain. Rugged and reilable. I sure miss them.


Steve/MSY


User currently offlineDeskPilot From Australia, joined Apr 2004, 767 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 4255 times:

Wasn't this the same market that the BAC 111 One Eleven was competing for ? Why did this type fail ?


By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?
User currently offlineLVZXV From Gabon, joined Mar 2004, 2041 posts, RR: 37
Reply 4, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 4242 times:

And why did the Trident?

XV




How do you say "12 months" in Estonian?
User currently offlineAeroflot777 From Russia, joined Mar 2004, 2999 posts, RR: 27
Reply 5, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 4224 times:

Design. Interior. Flying distance. Fuel consumption.

User currently offlineQantasA332 From Australia, joined Dec 2003, 1500 posts, RR: 26
Reply 6, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 4201 times:

Keep in mind that the 727 (and probably the Tu-154, though I don't no anything about it) was considered quite a technologically advanced (and as a consequence, well-performing) jet for its time, and that would have contributed at least partially to its relative success...


Cheers,
QantasA332


User currently offlineLVZXV From Gabon, joined Mar 2004, 2041 posts, RR: 37
Reply 7, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 4170 times:

QantasA332:

So was the 707, though in its 28 years on the production line, it failed to outsell the 727, which was produced for just 19 years. I'm not saying the 707 was unsuccessful in anyway, and to many, it is more famous than the 727. "Technologically advanced" doesn't always mean "well-performing" either: take the CV-880/990, Concorde, Starship, Tu-144--radical designs have a tendency to backfire.

XV




How do you say "12 months" in Estonian?
User currently offlineQantasA332 From Australia, joined Dec 2003, 1500 posts, RR: 26
Reply 8, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 4122 times:

I didn't mean technologically advanced in a radical, Concorde/Starship/Tu-144-esque sort of way. I just meant a sound and economic yet relatively ahead of its time design...

Cheers,
QantasA332


User currently offlineLVZXV From Gabon, joined Mar 2004, 2041 posts, RR: 37
Reply 9, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 4094 times:

QantasA332:

Point taken, but what staggers me too is how the Tu-154 became Russia's bestselling jet airliner (...hold on, does anyone have Tu-134 production figures?). Both the 727 and 154 seem to invert the "2 or 4 engines are better than 3" argument, while every other trijet has failed in that sense.

XV




How do you say "12 months" in Estonian?
User currently offlineNewSwissair From Switzerland, joined Nov 2001, 282 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 4014 times:

Totally 853 Tu-134 were built from 1963 until 1984, when the production closed.

1030 Tu-154 were built, and production will be opened again in the near future. There are at least 10 unfinished airframes left.


User currently offlineVirginFlyer From New Zealand, joined Sep 2000, 4537 posts, RR: 42
Reply 11, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 4001 times:

LVZXV - don't forget that the DC-10, L1011 and MD-11 are all significantly larger aircraft in a different market. It is only logical that the 727 would sell more than these aircraft.

As for the 2 is better than 4, thats not entirely true. Certainly, the 727 offered significant advantages over the 707, by having a lighter structure, and one less engine. Back in its day, there were not suitable engines to make an aircraft the size of the 727 a twin. The best option was the tri-jet...

V/F



"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." - Bahá'u'lláh
User currently offlineCanberra From Denmark, joined Apr 2004, 310 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3964 times:

Because they where some very good looking girls  Big thumbs up


It takes courage to push things forward . . (Mo Mowlam)
User currently offlineAlessandro From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 3888 times:

I think the TU-154 sold well because the Soviet goverment liked the design,
also sold it to socialist countries at a low price.


User currently offlineAviadvigatel From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2004, 39 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 3839 times:

The reputation of the Tu-154 is very good - an outstanding safety record (only two hull losses due to mechanical failure) and it met the operating needs of Aeroflot very well. However, it has to be remembered that in the command economy of the former USSR there was no competition, other than that between the design bureaus initially. In terms of numbers the Tu-154 was always going to be a success. However, I think that it is more attractive design than the 727.

If anyone has a chance to read 'Tupolev - The Man and his Aircraft' by Paul Duffy and Andrei Kandalov, there is an interesting story about the wings of the first hundred of these aircraft. Apparently they all had to return to the factory for new wings. A redesign took place when it was realised that the wings were in no way going to meet their design life. If Tupolev were not a state industry and been bailed out, it is highly likely that the company would have failed.

NewSwissair - where did you hear that production is being reopened? I would be pleased, but it seems highly unlikely on the face of it, given the age of the design and its now uncompetitive operating costs (fuel burn, weight etc). Also would it not interfere with the Tu-204 family


User currently offlineLVZXV From Gabon, joined Mar 2004, 2041 posts, RR: 37
Reply 15, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3727 times:

True, the USSR was a command economy and internally not very competitive, but no amount of state-backing was able to transform the Il-62 or Il-86 into the legendary success that became the 154. As in the USA, some aircraft were destined to sell better than others. The laws of physics are universal.
Out of curiosity, does the 154 have the range to fly Moscow-New York, and would I be right in thinking it flies the trans-Siberian Moscow-Vladivostok route too? What penalties would the 727 have had to pay if Boeing had stretched its range to rival that of the 154?

VirginFlyer:

Size is not responsible for the relative failure of the L-1011 and DC-10 (in fact, they had the advantage of greater flexibilty over the 747); the larger 747 has sold around 1,100. The MD-11, as we all know, lost to its twin (777/A330) and 4-engined rivals (A340). Food for thought about the 727 requiring 3 engines:

-on the 727's 1st flight in 1963, the centre engine surged on take-off. Air flow to the #2 engine is very turbulent.
-one of the 727's successors, the MD-80, was also powered by JT-8Ds, but only required 2 of them to carry only slightly fewer passengers. The JT-8D is -60s technology. The 727 could just have well flown on 2, especially the -100.

In spite of the success of the 727 and the 154, neither McDonnell Douglas in the US, Airbus in Europe, nor Ilyushin in the USSR opted to challenge the trijet designs directly. It just mystifies me how Boeing and Tupolev were so lucky with a design few others had much faith in.

The last Tu-154 was completed in 2001 I think, but yes, their are 10 airframes (and 3 orders) which, Roubles permitting, will be finished in the not too distant future. Aircraft production in the Russian Federation is a joke at present: only 10 Il-96s, 4 Il-114s and 18 Tu-204/214s have been produced in the last decade, with outstanding orders for 20 Il-96s, 13 Il-114s, 21 Tu-204/214s and 24 Tu-334s. A Moscovite snail could reach Vladivostok in the time it takes to complete an airliner in Russia these days!

XV




How do you say "12 months" in Estonian?
User currently offlinePhollingsworth From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 825 posts, RR: 5
Reply 16, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3685 times:

-on the 727's 1st flight in 1963, the centre engine surged on take-off. Air flow to the #2 engine is very turbulent.
-one of the 727's successors, the MD-80, was also powered by JT-8Ds, but only required 2 of them to carry only slightly fewer passengers.


Remember the MD-80 is a significantly lighter aircraft and uses the JT8D-200 series which is a significantly larger engine. The MD-80 series has a MTOW of between 140-160,000 lbs. The 727-100 an MTOW of 160-170,000 lbs. and the 727-200 an MTOW of 173-207 lbs. They both have similar max structural payloads and ranges. The 727-200 is a fair bit more voluminous than the MD-80s are.


User currently offlineLVZXV From Gabon, joined Mar 2004, 2041 posts, RR: 37
Reply 17, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 3626 times:

Phollingsworth:

Yes, but if the 727 had been re-engined (much later!), 2 IAE V-2500s could have done the job, although it would look too similar to the 717! And of course, we all know what became of the 727-300...


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XV



How do you say "12 months" in Estonian?
User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6374 posts, RR: 54
Reply 18, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 3571 times:

About the Tu-154 it is easy to tell: It had no competition. It was the only plane of that size and range capability made behind the iron curtain. The former communist east block countries could either take it or leave it.

The B-727 success is more complicated. It is in fact a "minimum change" successor to the B-707 and 720 range, and optimized for domestic US traffic like the first generation 707. The 707 - based on the KC-135 tanker - soon developed into a true intercontinental plane as more efficient turbofan engines were fitted on it.

The 727 was early and had a large home market. Compared to that the direct competitor the DH-121 Trident was an all new design which suffered from a wrong choice of engine - too small and with too limited growth potential.

In Europe the 727 started out less successfully. Because of the geography smaller and shorter ranged aircrafts were called for, which gave some success to planes like Caravelle and BAC 1-11, even if they pretty soon faced stiff competition from the DC-9. By then Europe had put all its eggs into the Concorde basket, and dropped it on the tarmac.

The only true domestic competitor to the B-727 was probably the CV-880. But Boeing was clever - or lucky - to choose the far superior engine supplier when they made P&W modify their military J-52 engine into the JT-8D-1. The CV-880 with its GE engines never became a match for the 727.

Convair and Boeing were the only US plane manufacturers who saw that huge numbers of DC-6Bs could be replaced with economic jet planes flying twice as fast. Boeing won that battle hands down mostly because Convair made such a clumsy start that it soon put them out of the airliner business.



Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs, Preben Norholm
User currently offlineRIX From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 1787 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 3544 times:

"does the 154 have the range to fly Moscow-New York, and would I be right in thinking it flies the trans-Siberian Moscow-Vladivostok route too" - no, it is a medium range airliner. Both these routes are typical for Il62 while Tu154 was/is flying either from Moscow or Leningrad to, say, Tbilisi non-stop, or on longer routes with one or two stops, like Riga - Gorky (Nizhny Novgorod) - Omsk - Krasnoyarsk or Prague - Larnaca - Kuwait - Abu-Dhabi.

As for "neither McDonnell Douglas in the US, Airbus in Europe, nor Ilyushin in the USSR opted to challenge the trijet designs directly" - well, Douglas and Ilyushin were not in that market (Douglas was busy with DC10 while simply upgrading DC9; Ilyushin just built Il62 and began to be involved in first Soviet widebody), while Airbus was there "too late" - when they designed their narrowbody, everything in this category was already to have two engines...


User currently offlineTrintocan From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2000, 3225 posts, RR: 4
Reply 20, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 3466 times:

The 727's flexibility was what won it the trijet market, by and large, of the Western world. Its ability to handle various sector lengths and operate effectively in various conditions (including hot and high, which made it popular in Latin America and Spain) was almost unrivalled - even now 727s operate from relatively rough surfaces in some places. In comparison, the Trident was a design too closely tailored to BEA's demands with the scrapping of the RR Medway engines (which would have made the type far more competitive) in favour of the smaller Spey being the death-knell of the type. That is the reason the stretched Trident 3 needed the 4th booster engine - perhaps it should have been called Quadrant! By the time HS was stretching the Trident 727s were attracting massive sales and the race was lost.

Any comparison with TU-154 is conditioned by the fact that since the type's operating economics were subsidized by Soviet Bloc Governments and their state airlines the fuel economy was less of an issue. That said the TU-154 proved a very sturdy plane, also able to handle wide-ranging conditions (this was virtually an aviation philosophy in the USSR) and served its respective airlines for many years. The limitation it now faces is in terms of its noise output - only the M version is Stage III compliant.

TrintoCan.



Hop to it, fly for life!
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