fightforlove
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Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:13 pm

American Airlines always had a close relationship with Douglas in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. AA worked with Douglas to develop airplanes and launched the DC-3, DC-6, and the DC-7. So, why did American break for the 707 over the DC-8? They also did not buy the DC-9, opting for the British BAC-111 instead. American would come back to Douglas in a big way with the DC-10 and MD-80 series, but was there something that soured the AA-Douglas relations during the 1960s? Or, was the 707 truly the better airplane for AA's needs?
 
SFOThinker
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:21 pm

I recall AA advertising its New York -LA flights as the first domestic jet flights, so I suspect earlier delivery had a lot to do with it.
 
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longhauler
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:50 pm

Boeing was able to offer the 707 about a year earlier than the DC-8. I suspect that was huge at the time.

It is hard to imagine today that a year would make a difference, but recall in the 1950s, advances in airframes came a year apart. Airlines bought airplanes knowing they might only have an edge for a short time ... or might suffer having an "inferior" aircraft for a year!

Look at the DC-7C. The last one was newly delivered when the DC-8 was already flying! Why would any airline buy a piston transport airliner when jet's were so close? Because, that one year advantage was important in the era.

It was likely the same thing with the BAC 111 over the DC-9. Initially, the BAC 111 was to be in service about 18 months ahead of the DC-9. (It was the deep stall accident of the BAC 111 that delayed delivery).
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SEPilot
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Thu Nov 01, 2018 5:42 pm

The 707 caught Douglas completely flat footed. They had committed to the DC-7 before they knew about the 707, and so had to hurry the DC-8 proposal, and were a year behind getting it to market. Boeing had put a couple of years into development before revealing it, research that Douglas was unable to replicate. The one advantage Douglas had was that, by coming second, they were able to “one-up” Boeing by making theirs 6 abreast (the 707 was originally 5 abreast) which won orders from a couple of major airlines, one of them United. Boeing had been there before, with the 247, and did not want a repeat. There was powerful disincentive to change the fuselage as they were already making KC-135s and couldn’t change them and hence would need two sets of tooling where they had planned on only one. But at a Bill Allen’s insistence they went ahead and made the 707 6 abreast. But on top of that, Boeing had extensive experience with large jets with the B-47 and B-52, and Douglas did not, and Boeing had their own high speed wind tunnel, which Douglas did not. The result was the high altitude high speed performance of the 707 was always better than the DC-8. It is notable that Pan Am, which is one of the few airlines to buy both planes did not keep their DC-8s long but ordered boatloads of 707s.
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Thu Nov 01, 2018 6:35 pm

longhauler wrote:
Boeing was able to offer the 707 about a year earlier than the DC-8. I suspect that was huge at the time.

It is hard to imagine today that a year would make a difference, but recall in the 1950s, advances in airframes came a year apart. Airlines bought airplanes knowing they might only have an edge for a short time ... or might suffer having an "inferior" aircraft for a year!

Look at the DC-7C. The last one was newly delivered when the DC-8 was already flying! Why would any airline buy a piston transport airliner when jet's were so close? Because, that one year advantage was important in the era.

It was likely the same thing with the BAC 111 over the DC-9. Initially, the BAC 111 was to be in service about 18 months ahead of the DC-9. (It was the deep stall accident of the BAC 111 that delayed delivery).


Well when you consider that a 707 could fly a transcon twice as fast as a DC-7, a year's lead was huge.

A several year's delay on a replacement of a 767 by the 787 isn't really noticeable by consumers. Airlines were able to extend the lives of their 767's or even order more new build 767's to replace their oldest ones.

The 707 made it possible to fly coast to coast in under 6 hours which was a both a qualitative and quantitative change. The 707 made it possible to fly from the east coast in the morning and have a morning business meeting on the west coast. An airline that could get a year's lead time over its competitors with that kind of qualitative change, could steal lots of business.
 
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 3:27 am

Here's something else; the smallest Boeing 707, originally designated the 707-020, was re-designated as the Boeing 720. The 720 took on a life of its own in the USA and abroad. American had the Boeing 720 in its fleet, along with the larger Boeing 707. My question is, did American (and other carriers) order the first Boeing 720s separately, or were the 720 orders made with the early Boeing 707s?
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 3:48 am

SkyVoice wrote:
Here's something else; the smallest Boeing 707, originally designated the 707-020, was re-designated as the Boeing 720. The 720 took on a life of its own in the USA and abroad. American had the Boeing 720 in its fleet, along with the larger Boeing 707. My question is, did American (and other carriers) order the first Boeing 720s separately, or were the 720 orders made with the early Boeing 707s?


I believe separately. The 720 was meant for a different mission. Also a few airlines such as EA and UA ordered the 720, but did not otherwise fly 707s.
 
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:47 am

BoeingGuy wrote:
I believe separately. The 720 was meant for a different mission. Also a few airlines such as EA and UA ordered the 720, but did not otherwise fly 707s.

That is correct ... the large American carriers made their "large" choice first as it became available, namely the DC-8 and 707. Then in following rounds chose their "not as large" choice. As you note, even DC-8 carries like UA and EA chose the 720 for their smaller aircraft.

What I find curious is that airlines like TW and AA, with their 707s chose both the 720 and the Convair jets (880 for TW and 990 for AA), when in reality they were fulfilling the same mission as the next smaller jet.
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slcguy
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:18 am

Interesting Delta never bought the 707 or 720 but were early if not first operators of the DC-8. CV880 and DC-9. Don't think Delta ever operated a Boeing aircraft until the early 70's with the 727 and 747. Of course Delta went on to be a large Boeing customer with the 727, 737, 747, 757, 767 and 777. Also interesting is Delta despite being a loyal Douglas/.MD customer as well (DC-3 thru MD-90) passed on the DC-10 going with Lockheed and the L-1011. Yes I know Delta did operate of few DC-10s in the 70's as a stop gap while waiting for the L-1011s to be delivered and again in the late 80's when they inherited the ones from Western. But the DC-10 was never part of their fleet strategy.
 
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:01 pm

slcguy wrote:
Interesting Delta never bought the 707 or 720 but were early if not first operators of the DC-8. CV880 and DC-9. Don't think Delta ever operated a Boeing aircraft until the early 70's with the 727 and 747. Of course Delta went on to be a large Boeing customer with the 727, 737, 747, 757, 767 and 777. Also interesting is Delta despite being a loyal Douglas/.MD customer as well (DC-3 thru MD-90) passed on the DC-10 going with Lockheed and the L-1011. Yes I know Delta did operate of few DC-10s in the 70's as a stop gap while waiting for the L-1011s to be delivered and again in the late 80's when they inherited the ones from Western. But the DC-10 was never part of their fleet strategy.

Delta also got into the 727 only through the Northeastern merger. They later bought many more but the first airframes were NE aircraft. The 747 was the first new purchase Boeing I think.
 
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:22 pm

Dalmd88 wrote:
slcguy wrote:
Interesting Delta never bought the 707 or 720 but were early if not first operators of the DC-8. CV880 and DC-9. Don't think Delta ever operated a Boeing aircraft until the early 70's with the 727 and 747. Of course Delta went on to be a large Boeing customer with the 727, 737, 747, 757, 767 and 777. Also interesting is Delta despite being a loyal Douglas/.MD customer as well (DC-3 thru MD-90) passed on the DC-10 going with Lockheed and the L-1011. Yes I know Delta did operate of few DC-10s in the 70's as a stop gap while waiting for the L-1011s to be delivered and again in the late 80's when they inherited the ones from Western. But the DC-10 was never part of their fleet strategy.

Delta also got into the 727 only through the Northeastern merger. They later bought many more but the first airframes were NE aircraft. The 747 was the first new purchase Boeing I think.


Yes, that is right. The 747s were new from Boeing in 1971. The first 727s were from Northeast in 1972. Then they bought a lot more new 727s, more came from from Western and Pan Am and they became the largest 727 operator in the world by the late 80's early 90s. Think they were near 200 in the fleet at it's peak.
Last edited by slcguy on Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:44 pm, edited 4 times in total.
 
nikeherc
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:26 pm

Douglas actually did not want to do the DC-7. They were talked into it by C. R. Smith, the chairman of American. Everybody knew that jets were on the way, but American wanted that one last, best prop airplane. Douglas accomodated American and lost their ass on both planes.
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EBJ68
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:49 pm

Douglas built 336 DC-7s and for that time period that's not a bad production run. Profits probably weren't huge but I suspect they didn't loose their butts on it.
 
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:50 pm

longhauler wrote:
BoeingGuy wrote:
I believe separately. The 720 was meant for a different mission. Also a few airlines such as EA and UA ordered the 720, but did not otherwise fly 707s.

That is correct ... the large American carriers made their "large" choice first as it became available, namely the DC-8 and 707. Then in following rounds chose their "not as large" choice. As you note, even DC-8 carries like UA and EA chose the 720 for their smaller aircraft.

What I find curious is that airlines like TW and AA, with their 707s chose both the 720 and the Convair jets (880 for TW and 990 for AA), when in reality they were fulfilling the same mission as the next smaller jet.


TW did not order or operate 720's.

As for AA...they were seduced by Convair's high-speed promises for the 990 and if memory serves (I could be wrong about this), their intended mission for them was dedicated trans-con ops to beat UA & TW with faster flights, thus a different mission than the 720's which were intended for ops into airports with shorter runways that the 707 couldn't do. Of course the 990 turned into a big disappointment for AA...that high speed came at a horrendous fuel-burn price which caused a range deficiency...apparently they operated 990's for a short time on trans-con's eastbound only which I never knew...somebody pointed that out in a different thread. I think this is the story, but feel free to correct me!
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EBJ68
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:54 pm

As I recall the Convair 880 and 990 were both very maintenance intensive and that didn't help.
 
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:56 pm

nikeherc wrote:
Douglas actually did not want to do the DC-7. They were talked into it by C. R. Smith, the chairman of American. Everybody knew that jets were on the way, but American wanted that one last, best prop airplane. Douglas accomodated American and lost their ass on both planes.


Quite true. It was that competitive-edge-thing again; C.R. wanted the DC-7 to one-up TW with their Connie's, and being launch-customer get them before UA could get any so as to beat them too...primarily on trans-con's as usual. And all for such a short while, what with the Electra and the pure-jets coming. Amazing how things worked back then.
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:02 pm

EBJ68 wrote:
As I recall the Convair 880 and 990 were both very maintenance intensive and that didn't help.


I can't speak to that at all, but if true, yeah, that would have been another nail in the coffin for the 990 with AA.

I believe that the 990 eventually did achieve greater range after Convair did some (what we call today) PIP's...hence the 990A designator, but I think that AA simply didn't want to sink any more money into them...a big case of "buyer's remorse".
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slcguy
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:16 pm

EBJ68 wrote:
Douglas built 336 DC-7s and for that time period that's not a bad production run. Profits probably weren't huge but I suspect they didn't loose their butts on it.


The DC-7 was basically was a slightly larger version of the DC-6 with new engines, I'm sure at 336 built Douglas made money on the aircraft. Where it hurt Douglas was while they were building DC-7s, Boeing had developed the Dash 80 prototype and won the Air Force contract for the KC-135 which led to the larger civilian 707. This gave Boeing a lead in introducing the 707 before the DC-8. Boeing must have done something right with 707, the nose, cockpit shape and upper lobe width fuselage section live on to this day with the 737 Max!
Last edited by slcguy on Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:37 pm

cathay747 wrote:
longhauler wrote:
BoeingGuy wrote:
I believe separately. The 720 was meant for a different mission. Also a few airlines such as EA and UA ordered the 720, but did not otherwise fly 707s.

That is correct ... the large American carriers made their "large" choice first as it became available, namely the DC-8 and 707. Then in following rounds chose their "not as large" choice. As you note, even DC-8 carries like UA and EA chose the 720 for their smaller aircraft.

What I find curious is that airlines like TW and AA, with their 707s chose both the 720 and the Convair jets (880 for TW and 990 for AA), when in reality they were fulfilling the same mission as the next smaller jet.


TW did not order or operate 720's.

As for AA...they were seduced by Convair's high-speed promises for the 990 and if memory serves (I could be wrong about this), their intended mission for them was dedicated trans-con ops to beat UA & TW with faster flights, thus a different mission than the 720's which were intended for ops into airports with shorter runways that the 707 couldn't do. Of course the 990 turned into a big disappointment for AA...that high speed came at a horrendous fuel-burn price which caused a range deficiency...apparently they operated 990's for a short time on trans-con's eastbound only which I never knew...somebody pointed that out in a different thread. I think this is the story, but feel free to correct me!


*** TWA did operate 4 leased B720-051B's in the early 60's ***
 
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:44 pm

Bear in mind that the DC-8 was a bigger aircraft than the original 707-120. Douglas chose to build a one size airframe for both domestic and intercontinental missions, Boeing had to stretch the 707 in both fuselage length and wingspan to produce the intercontinental 707-320, which was of broadly similar dimensions to the DC-8. The first DC-8 variant was the JT3C powered DC-8-10 which was hopelessly underpowered, they were all fairly quickly converted to JT4A or turbofan JT3D power, whereas many JT3C powered 707-120s operated satisfactorily with the original engines for their whole lives.
 
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 7:13 pm

cathay747 wrote:
TW did not order nor operate 720's.

You mean like this one? ;)

Image

TWA introduced the CV880 in 1961. During that time they also ordered 20 707-131Bs, 5 707-331Bs and 5 707-331Cs from Boeing. As an interim measure, they leased 4 720-051Bs, also from Boeing. Clearly, as they were 51s and not 31s, they were intended for Northwest, where they eventually ended up.

As I said above, they could have ordered more 880s, but didn't. Having flown both types, and ordered no more of either, it looks like they liked neither. But then ... the 727 was just around the corner.
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sat Nov 03, 2018 7:29 pm

cathay747 wrote:
EBJ68 wrote:
As I recall the Convair 880 and 990 were both very maintenance intensive and that didn't help.


I can't speak to that at all, but if true, yeah, that would have been another nail in the coffin for the 990 with AA.

I believe that the 990 eventually did achieve greater range after Convair did some (what we call today) PIP's...hence the 990A designator, but I think that AA simply didn't want to sink any more money into them...a big case of "buyer's remorse".



The Cv990 is impressive in that even pre oil crisis, it managed to be considered extremely inefficient. Read before that it burned something like 13000 pounds per hour. But in exchange, they managed to bring the prototypes up into the very high 0.9 mach ranges.

But as others have said. 1 year in aviation has become longer and longer. 1 year used to be a huge gap in innovation, and could really make or break an airline or manufacturers future. These days most airlines already have their in-flight amenities planned further in advance.
 
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:37 am

longhauler wrote:
You mean like this one? ;)

Image


Lets try this:

Image
This plane is built to withstand anything... except a bad pilot.
 
jm2it
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sun Nov 04, 2018 11:32 am

There was also an issue with United and how it originally touted the DC-8 versus the 707. When they finally recognized that the 707 was a better aircraft for them in certain markets, they couldn't turn around and buy the 707 - so Boeing agreed to "rename" the 707-020 as the "720", and face could be saved. That was the story I heard.
 
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:26 pm

longhauler wrote:
cathay747 wrote:
TW did not order nor operate 720's.

You mean like this one? ;)

Image

TWA introduced the CV880 in 1961. During that time they also ordered 20 707-131Bs, 5 707-331Bs and 5 707-331Cs from Boeing. As an interim measure, they leased 4 720-051Bs, also from Boeing. Clearly, as they were 51s and not 31s, they were intended for Northwest, where they eventually ended up.

As I said above, they could have ordered more 880s, but didn't. Having flown both types, and ordered no more of either, it looks like they liked neither. But then ... the 727 was just around the corner.


Well I'll be damned. OK...I stand at least partly corrected. I never knew this. In my defense I'll say that it's because it was an interim lease vs. outright order, and only for four. One presumes NWA must have been in some situation where they wanted to defer delivery of these 4 ships? Was it a short lease? Have never seen a pic of a TWA 720 like the one above!

As to the lack of re-orders, I believe, if I'm remembering Bob Serling's great book "Howard Hughes' Airline" correctly, it was because TW was in such a financial mess at the time that they simply didn't have the financial ability to order more 880's even if they liked them....they had terrible trouble financing that 707 order...if memory serves, there were deferrals due to lack of finance.
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cathay747
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:32 pm

jm2it wrote:
There was also an issue with United and how it originally touted the DC-8 versus the 707. When they finally recognized that the 707 was a better aircraft for them in certain markets, they couldn't turn around and buy the 707 - so Boeing agreed to "rename" the 707-020 as the "720", and face could be saved. That was the story I heard.


Yep...that's the exact story. Although I think it was that the 707-020/720 had a shorter-field-capability than the DC-8 & full-size-707, and that's why UA wanted them...so they could get jet service into smaller airports with no Douglas equivalent and pre-727.
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:14 pm

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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:32 pm

SEPilot wrote:
The 707 caught Douglas completely flat footed. They had committed to the DC-7 before they knew about the 707, and so had to hurry the DC-8 proposal, and were a year behind getting it to market. Boeing had put a couple of years into development before revealing it, research that Douglas was unable to replicate. The one advantage Douglas had was that, by coming second, they were able to “one-up” Boeing by making theirs 6 abreast (the 707 was originally 5 abreast) which won orders from a couple of major airlines, one of them United. Boeing had been there before, with the 247, and did not want a repeat. There was powerful disincentive to change the fuselage as they were already making KC-135s and couldn’t change them and hence would need two sets of tooling where they had planned on only one. But at a Bill Allen’s insistence they went ahead and made the 707 6 abreast. But on top of that, Boeing had extensive experience with large jets with the B-47 and B-52, and Douglas did not, and Boeing had their own high speed wind tunnel, which Douglas did not. The result was the high altitude high speed performance of the 707 was always better than the DC-8. It is notable that Pan Am, which is one of the few airlines to buy both planes did not keep their DC-8s long but ordered boatloads of 707s.


These are interesting points, and makes it seem pretty remarkable that Douglas was able to produce a pretty strong competitor to the 707 despite lacking experience with big jets within a relatively short time frame.

So I believe I read that when Boeing expanded the width of the fuselage to accommodate six abreast seating, it ended up being six inches wider than the DC-8. I wonder how wide the seats on the DC-8 were then? I know they were quite unique in design: attached directly to the wall, middle seat slightly wider than the aisle & window, etc. I only mention this because of all the histrionics I see posted on Anet about the supposedly excruciatingly narrow seats on the 737 (same width as the 707) vs. those huge, luxurious seats on the Airbus--a whopping half inch wider. I've never read anything where people complained about seat width on the DC-8.
 
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:16 pm

global2 wrote:
SEPilot wrote:
The 707 caught Douglas completely flat footed. They had committed to the DC-7 before they knew about the 707, and so had to hurry the DC-8 proposal, and were a year behind getting it to market. Boeing had put a couple of years into development before revealing it, research that Douglas was unable to replicate. The one advantage Douglas had was that, by coming second, they were able to “one-up” Boeing by making theirs 6 abreast (the 707 was originally 5 abreast) which won orders from a couple of major airlines, one of them United. Boeing had been there before, with the 247, and did not want a repeat. There was powerful disincentive to change the fuselage as they were already making KC-135s and couldn’t change them and hence would need two sets of tooling where they had planned on only one. But at a Bill Allen’s insistence they went ahead and made the 707 6 abreast. But on top of that, Boeing had extensive experience with large jets with the B-47 and B-52, and Douglas did not, and Boeing had their own high speed wind tunnel, which Douglas did not. The result was the high altitude high speed performance of the 707 was always better than the DC-8. It is notable that Pan Am, which is one of the few airlines to buy both planes did not keep their DC-8s long but ordered boatloads of 707s.


These are interesting points, and makes it seem pretty remarkable that Douglas was able to produce a pretty strong competitor to the 707 despite lacking experience with big jets within a relatively short time frame.

So I believe I read that when Boeing expanded the width of the fuselage to accommodate six abreast seating, it ended up being six inches wider than the DC-8. I wonder how wide the seats on the DC-8 were then? I know they were quite unique in design: attached directly to the wall, middle seat slightly wider than the aisle & window, etc. I only mention this because of all the histrionics I see posted on Anet about the supposedly excruciatingly narrow seats on the 737 (same width as the 707) vs. those huge, luxurious seats on the Airbus--a whopping half inch wider. I've never read anything where people complained about seat width on the DC-8.

Yes, Douglas pulled off an amazing feat in being able to get the DC-8 into service only a year after the 707, since they only started after the 367-80 (707 prototype) flew. But remember that the 367-80 actually had very little in common with the actual 707, just about everything ended up being redesigned. And yes, the seats in the 707 were wider than the DC-8, but we did not have A-net back then to make a fuss about it. So A-net is reduced to arguing about how the DC-8 was a flying tank while the 707 was a flying beer can. But what the truth is is that the 707 was the plane that enabled Boeing to wrest the crown of premier airliner builder from Douglas, leapfrogging over all other contenders such as Lockheed, Martin, and Convair, since before the 707 Boeing’s only airliner was the Stratocruiser, which only sold 55, and 13 of them crashed. They also transformed themselves from a primarily military supplier to a major civilian aircraft supplier who also built military planes. I do not believe any major company has made such a radical transformation in such a short time.
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SEPilot
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:34 pm

nikeherc wrote:
Douglas actually did not want to do the DC-7. They were talked into it by C. R. Smith, the chairman of American. Everybody knew that jets were on the way, but American wanted that one last, best prop airplane. Douglas accomodated American and lost their ass on both planes.

This is true, but everyone thought civilian jets were at least a decade away. I think the Comet debacle reinforced this thinking. Only Boeing, with their experience with the B-47 and B-52 believed that the time was right. And they managed to design and build the 367-80 without word of it leaking out until it flew. Quite a feat.
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ImperialEagle
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:53 pm

NW was trying to deal with three major crashes (a -7C and two L-188's) and the expenses of the introduction of the DC-8's which did not meet the range performance criteria.
Therefore Boeing was able to work a lease-deal with TW so NW could take some pressure off and make a few dollars in the interim. It certainly cemented a good relationship with Nyrop!

C.R. Smith of AA had a good business relationship with a Don Douglas and Arthur Raymond so when he got wind of TW's efforts to beef-up the 3350 engines on their Connies, he had to act.
But, Douglas wasn't interested and it took a lot of pressure to get the DC-7's built.
Same thing happened when Smith started pushing Douglas for a jet.
So a decades old relationship with Douglas began to chill.

There were three determining factors that others here have already mentioned.
For competitive reasons Speed was a factor. The 707 design with more wing sweep offered significantly better speed, at altitude.
Then Boeing widened their fuselage by 15 inches. That was huge.
Early deliveries. PA and UA (a major competitor) ordered fleets of DC-8's.
Smith knew he could get the Boeings much earlier.
Also, everybody was well aware of Boeing's expertise and experience with large jet powered aircraft.
Douglas had to scramble. In hind-sight the amazing thing was what a great job the design team at Douglas did with the wing. Yeah, it needed some tweaking in the beginning (slots) but, not nearly the tweaking the 707 wings needed over time.

Since the working relationship between Douglas and (C.E. Woolman) at DL has already been mentioned, I will add a few thoughts.
It took the merger with McDonnell to get the DC-8 range/payload issues ironed out at last (series 62). The big carrot was stretching the fuselage. It made perfect sense for DL to jump on the bandwagon (series -61). However, Douglas was under new management, and the writing on the wall for future commercial operations looked less than savory. McDonnell had no experience in dealing with the intricacies of the airlines.

So when the DC-10 came along (Woolman had already passed away) and the sales team at MCD was not making too many friends. Also, DL was becoming used to being first at introducing new aircraft.
DL had an "interesting" experience with GE powered 880's.
In any event, the engineering Department at DL was a superb group and they saw the benefits in being on the launch team over at Lockheed. Also, since DL did not need the range ( at that time) the price of the -1011 was just right (although that would change). And DL did have some working experience with Lockheed over the years with the L-10's, L-100's and (pardon the expression) 049's. After RR engine issues with fan-blades were revealed the Company quickly leased some of UA's -10-10's to get by until Lockheed could make their deliveries.
In hindsight, even though the -10 outsold the -1011's the Lockheed aircraft made a reputation as a superb and safe aircraft. DL made a lot of money with them.

Boeing cemented their relationship with DL by taking back the -741's. That brought a huge order for -722's!
Last edited by ImperialEagle on Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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DrPaul
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:56 pm

A question I have following on from this discussion is this: what were the salient points that encouraged airlines to buy 707s rather than DC-8s, or DC-8s rather than 707s, when they were both fully in production?

I've only recently discovered that two stretched versions of the 707 were envisaged, with 45 and 55 foot fuselage extensions, making them 197 and 207 feet long, and a 10 foot wider wing span. Now they would have been quite a sight, the ultimate 'flying pencil'.

It's odd when I think back to when I used to see 720s coming into Heathrow, I used to think that they were quite large aeroplanes; nowadays, I think that 737-800s, which are only seven feet shorter than the 720, and the 737-900s, which are two feet longer, are quite small. I suppose this perception is because the average size of airliners has increased somewhat over the last 50 or more years.
 
ImperialEagle
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC

Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:19 pm

DrPaul wrote:
A question I have following on from this discussion is this: what were the salient points that encouraged airlines to buy 707s rather than DC-8s, or DC-8s rather than 707s, when they were both fully in production?

I've only recently discovered that two stretched versions of the 707 were envisaged, with 45 and 55 foot fuselage extensions, making them 197 and 207 feet long, and a 10 foot wider wing span. Now they would have been quite a sight, the ultimate 'flying pencil'.

It's odd when I think back to when I used to see 720s coming into Heathrow, I used to think that they were quite large aeroplanes; nowadays, I think that 737-800s, which are only seven feet shorter than the 720, and the 737-900s, which are two feet longer, are quite small. I suppose this perception is because the average size of airliners has increased somewhat over the last 50 or more years.


I know what you mean. I remember when the DC-7's and Super Constellation seemed very large. They were dwarfed by the first generation of Jets. Then the wide-bodies dwarfed the narrow-bodies.
Pretty cool that such was the jump in technology that in my lifetime I have witnessed the introduction into service of heavy piston-powered aircraft as well as, propeller-turbine, pure-jet, fan-jet, narrow bodies, then three generations of wide bodied, high-bypass fan powered aircraft. Oh, and a couple more generations of narrow-bodies. When DL took delivery of it's first -741 it was parked outside of the old Company hanger adjacent the HQ that evening. My best friend and I did a walk-around. We were floored by the sheer size of it. The (Skylarks) -7B parked behind it was totally dwarfed!

The last -7C I saw was parked over at the CC at MIA. (During cleaning a fuel-tank exploded and it was done).
I remember thinking how tiny it looked!
Last edited by ImperialEagle on Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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SEPilot
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:22 pm

DrPaul wrote:
A question I have following on from this discussion is this: what were the salient points that encouraged airlines to buy 707s rather than DC-8s, or DC-8s rather than 707s, when they were both fully in production?

I've only recently discovered that two stretched versions of the 707 were envisaged, with 45 and 55 foot fuselage extensions, making them 197 and 207 feet long, and a 10 foot wider wing span. Now they would have been quite a sight, the ultimate 'flying pencil'.

It's odd when I think back to when I used to see 720s coming into Heathrow, I used to think that they were quite large aeroplanes; nowadays, I think that 737-800s, which are only seven feet shorter than the 720, and the 737-900s, which are two feet longer, are quite small. I suppose this perception is because the average size of airliners has increased somewhat over the last 50 or more years.

As I said earlier, the high altitude-high speed performance of the 707 was definitely superior to the DC-8. I believe the range and payload of the 300 series was better as well. A lot of airlines were partial to Douglas, however, and the DC-8 being 6 abreast while the initial offering of the 707 was 5 abreast won some initial orders for Douglas. The other factor was that Boeing was much more successful in ramping up production, and was able to deliver with much better predictability. Donald Douglas was a great engineer, but not a great businessman, and when he completely underestimated the demand for the DC-9, he basically bankrupted the company trying to meet it and was forced to seek a merger partner. And he ended up with the worst one possible.

Stretching the 707 was much more difficult than the DC-8 because of the aft fuselage design. The 707 tapered along the fuselage axis, while the DC-8 held the top of the fuselage straight and tapered up to that line. This gave the DC-8 much more rotation clearance without having to lengthen the landing gear. But the real reason the 707 was never stretched was that Boeing was already thinking about the 747 by the time the issue of stretching the 707 came up.

As to the size of airliners, consider that there are regional jets now that are larger than the largest prop powered airliners.
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BoeingGuy
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:12 pm

jm2it wrote:
There was also an issue with United and how it originally touted the DC-8 versus the 707. When they finally recognized that the 707 was a better aircraft for them in certain markets, they couldn't turn around and buy the 707 - so Boeing agreed to "rename" the 707-020 as the "720", and face could be saved. That was the story I heard.


What you stated jibes with my understanding. UA didn’t want to go to their Board of Directors and ask to purchase the 707 after already choosing the DC-8. So they told Boeing they would buy some if Boeing made it look like an all new model.

I only learned a few years ago - on A.net of course - that it was actually Type Designed as the 720. I always assumed it was officially a 707-020, but not so.

Still though, it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and is a duck. A 720 is a 707 for all intents and purposes.

Along with TWA, it’s interesting to note that Pan Am also operated some 720s, even though they also never purchased it new.
 
timz
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:21 pm

global2 wrote:
I believe I read that when Boeing expanded the width of the fuselage to accommodate six abreast seating, it ended up being six inches wider than the DC-8

Boeing's drawings show the 707 as 148 inches external width and DC-8 as 147 inches.
 
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longhauler
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:39 pm

cathay747 wrote:
Well I'll be damned. OK...I stand at least partly corrected. I never knew this. In my defense I'll say that it's because it was an interim lease vs. outright order, and only for four. One presumes NWA must have been in some situation where they wanted to defer delivery of these 4 ships? Was it a short lease? Have never seen a pic of a TWA 720 like the one above!

It was one of those odd little facts that stuck in my mind. I think I remembered it for two reasons ...

The 720 was the first fanjet operated by TWA. And ... to irrritate those like us, the registrations on the 720s were eventually put on 707s after the 720s left! It certainly made it hard to track, or even as I found with this message thread, finding pictures.

In answer to your other question, the 720s were leased for just less than two years.
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
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longhauler
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:45 pm

BoeingGuy wrote:
Still though, it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and is a duck. A 720 is a 707 for all intents and purposes.

That brings up another question I have always had about the 720 vs the 707. What really is the difference?

With some 720s having 4 overwing exits and HF antennae, while some 707s having only 2 turbo compressors instead of 3 ... it seems like the area is pretty grey?

But, a long time ago, I was doing A300 recurrent training at the Pan Am flight academy in Miami. Wandering around, I noticed they had both a 707 simulator and a 720 simulator. There must have been enough of a difference. Was it a different type rating?
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
JCTJennings
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:12 pm

longhauler wrote:
BoeingGuy wrote:
Still though, it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and is a duck. A 720 is a 707 for all intents and purposes.

That brings up another question I have always had about the 720 vs the 707. What really is the difference?

With some 720s having 4 overwing exits and HF antennae, while some 707s having only 2 turbo compressors instead of 3 ... it seems like the area is pretty grey?

But, a long time ago, I was doing A300 recurrent training at the Pan Am flight academy in Miami. Wandering around, I noticed they had both a 707 simulator and a 720 simulator. There must have been enough of a difference. Was it a different type rating?

The 720 had a lighter structure, so was not just a "shrunken" 707-120 ( as Qantas' 707-138s were). The wing introduced the leading edge "glove" that was also fitted to 707-120Bs. The single overwing exits limited maximum seating to 149, which was not a problem in mixed class layouts, but when Monarch in the UK acquired second hand 720Bs for IT work they were sent to Boeing Wichita for installation of the extra overwing exits which allowed a greater all economy seating layout. All passenger 707s had three turbo compressors, the only ones with two were dedicated all cargo 707-320Cs with no windows and thus not convertible. American had ten of these and they may have been the only ones as other cargo operators like Flying Tiger and Seaboard World had convertibles so that they could pick up passenger charter work. There were so many different versions of the 707/720 family that there was no common type rating. BOAC, for example, had separate crews for its 707-420 and 707-320B/C fleets.
 
Murdoughnut
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:20 pm

Read Joe Sutter's biographical piece about the 747 - lots of good info on the 707 program he worked on as well, including the competitive marketplace.
 
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longhauler
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:04 am

JCTJennings wrote:
All passenger 707s had three turbo compressors, the only ones with two were dedicated all cargo 707-320Cs with no windows and thus not convertible.

Check out American's passenger -123Bs, -323Bs and -323Cs. They all have only two turbo compressors. I suspect they were the only airline that specified this during construction. It used to confuse the hell out of me as a young lad, atop the roof of T1 in YYZ, trying to identify aircraft.

Thank you for the rest of your information. Off hand, just for information, how much lighter was the empty weight of the 720B than say the 707-120B?
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mga707
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:21 am

JCTJennings wrote:
The 720 had a lighter structure, so was not just a "shrunken" 707-120 ( as Qantas' 707-138s were). The wing introduced the leading edge "glove" that was also fitted to 707-120Bs. The single overwing exits limited maximum seating to 149, which was not a problem in mixed class layouts, but when Monarch in the UK acquired second hand 720Bs for IT work they were sent to Boeing Wichita for installation of the extra overwing exits which allowed a greater all economy seating layout. All passenger 707s had three turbo compressors, the only ones with two were dedicated all cargo 707-320Cs with no windows and thus not convertible. American had ten of these and they may have been the only ones as other cargo operators like Flying Tiger and Seaboard World had convertibles so that they could pick up passenger charter work. There were so many different versions of the 707/720 family that there was no common type rating. BOAC, for example, had separate crews for its 707-420 and 707-320B/C fleets.


Eastern's 720s were delivered with 4 overwing exits. May have been a few others as well.
Last edited by mga707 on Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:34 am, edited 2 times in total.
 
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:30 am

mga707 wrote:
Northwest's 720Bs were delivered with 4 overwing exits. May have been a few others as well.

I think you might be thinking of their 707s, as all of the pictures I have found of NW 720s have had only 2 overwing exits.



Eastern's though, all came with 4 overwing exits.
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mga707
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:34 am

longhauler wrote:
mga707 wrote:
Northwest's 720Bs were delivered with 4 overwing exits. May have been a few others as well.

I think you might be thinking of their 707s, as all of the pictures I have found of NW 720s have had only 2 overwing exits.



Eastern's though, all came with 4 overwing exits.


You're correct. Eastern, not Northwest.
 
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TurboJet707
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:03 am

I have a fascinating old Dutch book about jet airliners that was published in 1961. The author quotes the AA chairman who says that AA take a long, hard look at both the 707 and the DC8, but that the earlier availability of the 707 was indeed decisive, after Boeing decided to widen the original cabin to 6-abreast in order to match that of the planned DC8.

Image

The author reports about a visit to the Douglas factory in Santa Monica around 1960 where many workers are being laid off at that moment due to a lack of DC8 orders. At that time, the DC8 wing was also in the process of being redesigned after the first examples turned out to have higher drag than expected, making the DC8 slower than the 707 (it is said that some PA DC8 pilots spoke about their planes as 'Diesel Eights' or 'Brand X'). The early DC8s had a revolutionary 'inversed' wing profile close to the wing root as this was Douglas' solution to reduce spanwise flow. However, it turned out that this profile increased drag and it was decided to drop this design and to modify DC8s that were already delivered. While this did cause some delay in DC8 deliveries, the early 707 needed modifications too, around that same time. The 707 got a taller tail fin and a ventral fin to improve stability. Interestingly, the book also claims that one of the reasons that KLM opted for the DC8 instead of the 707 is that KL didn't trust the 707's 35-degree wing sweep, they feared that would be too much and thought the DC8's 30 degrees sweep would be safer. Of course, KLM's long relationship with Douglas will have played an important role as well.

BTW, it's funny to read the expectation in that same book that we would all be flying at Mach 3 in nuclear powered aircraft around 1970. How different did it turn out. If the author (who passed away a long time ago) would get a chance to have one look at large airport like AMS in 2018, I guess he would be rather underwhelmed: 60 years later, civil aircraft are still subsonic and look basically the same as the DC8 and 707 that he raved about...
 
klm617
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Fri Nov 09, 2018 11:32 am

longhauler wrote:
cathay747 wrote:
TW did not order nor operate 720's.

You mean like this one? ;)

Image

TWA introduced the CV880 in 1961. During that time they also ordered 20 707-131Bs, 5 707-331Bs and 5 707-331Cs from Boeing. As an interim measure, they leased 4 720-051Bs, also from Boeing. Clearly, as they were 51s and not 31s, they were intended for Northwest, where they eventually ended up.

As I said above, they could have ordered more 880s, but didn't. Having flown both types, and ordered no more of either, it looks like they liked neither. But then ... the 727 was just around the corner.


As has been said here marketing was a big thing in those days and they wanted to be able to put out there they had the fastest passenger jetliner in the skies at the time which were the Convair 880 and 990 AA didn't hold onto theirs very long and they kept the 720 which had commonality with the 707 but the advent of the 727 pretty much made the 720 redundant thus giving them a very short lifespan by the front line carriers.
the truth does matter, guys. too bad it's often quite subjective. the truth is beyond the mere facts and figures. it's beyond good and bad, right and wrong...
 
klm617
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Fri Nov 09, 2018 11:35 am

On another interesting note Braniff was the only airline to order the Boeing 707-220

The 707-220 was designed for hot and high operations with more powerful 15,800 lb (70.3 kN) Pratt & Whitney JT4A-3 turbojets. Five of these were produced, but only four were ultimately delivered, with one being lost during a test flight. All were for Braniff International Airways and carried the model number 707-227; the first entered service in December 1959. This version was made obsolete by the arrival of the turbofan-powered 707-120B
the truth does matter, guys. too bad it's often quite subjective. the truth is beyond the mere facts and figures. it's beyond good and bad, right and wrong...
 
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DL_Mech
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Fri Nov 09, 2018 2:02 pm

DrPaul wrote:
It's odd when I think back to when I used to see 720s coming into Heathrow, I used to think that they were quite large aeroplanes; nowadays, I think that 737-800s, which are only seven feet shorter than the 720, and the 737-900s, which are two feet longer, are quite small. I suppose this perception is because the average size of airliners has increased somewhat over the last 50 or more years.


I like to bring up this photo when a 707(720) is compared to a 737NG. Fuselage length may be similar, but a 707-100 is like a 737-800 with 767 wings!

This plane is built to withstand anything... except a bad pilot.
 
citationjet
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Fri Nov 09, 2018 2:17 pm

longhauler wrote:
cathay747 wrote:
The 720 was the first fanjet operated by TWA. And ... to irrritate those like us, the registrations on the 720s were eventually put on 707s after the 720s left!


So true. Here is the N793TW registration on a 707.
https://www.google.com/search?q=twa+N793tw+photo&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=aTkOgh701oGuzM%253A%252CFgkmwdbJfZuamM%252C_&usg=AI4_-kRUtXl79VbkUje27QAEpiUIBIGH-A&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwignLeCkLveAhU3GDQIHTnDCJkQ9QEwBHoECAYQDA#imgrc=Irf5haVETUIyNM:&spf=1541772652826
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TurboJet707
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Fri Nov 09, 2018 2:36 pm

DL_Mech wrote:
I like to bring up this photo when a 707(720) is compared to a 737NG. Fuselage length may be similar, but a 707-100 is like a 737-800 with 767 wings!


That's a nice way to put it, and the picture clearly shows the difference.
By comparison, the 707's wings are indeed massive. Yet, neither the 737 nor the 707 looks out of proportion (but to me the 707 is a much more impressive beast!). The 707 was designed as a long-haul transport with 4 gas-guzzling Pratts, so the wings had to take a lot more fuel than those of the newer-generation 737s. In addition to that, can we say that the 737NG + MAX wing is much more efficient, requiring less area?

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