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SuperGee
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Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:13 am

I’ve never been able to figure out why Boeing skipped a series between the 707 and the 727. The 707 came out in 1958, the 727 came out about 5 years after that in 1963 and the 737 and 747 came out at pretty much the same time in 1968-9. Boeing went right up the line after that with the 757, 767, etc. The 717 didn’t come along till 1999, after the MD merger which happened in 1997.

I have placed the list of Boeing model numbers and the dates of their introduction below. The dates are from Wikopedia and might not be exact depending upon whether one is talking about rollout dates, first flight dates, etc. They should be pretty close however.

So why didn’t the 717 come out until much later in the series of Boeing models? Did they originally have a different plane slotted as the 717 but which never got developed? Apologies if there is already a thread on this subject. I searched and couldn't find one.

707 - 1958

727 - 1963

737 - 1968

747 - 1969

757 - 1983

767 - 1982

777 - 1995

Boeing/MD Merger - 1997

717 – 1999

787 -- 2011
 
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September11
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:21 am

Don't forget the 720

First MD-83 was built in 1999
Last edited by September11 on Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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drerx7
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:21 am

Because the 717 was a moniker for the military variant of the 707 at the time iirc
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:22 am

Boeing actually had 2 717 models. The first one was a military model which lead them to skip it at the time and then revisit when the MD-95 came into the Boeing portfolio.
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:23 am

According to Boeing:

"Initially the [720] plane was identified as the 707-020, was later changed to 717-020 and, with input from launch customer United Airlines, was eventually designated the 720."

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20110903234 ... y/720.html
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:32 am

Mystery solved. Thanks!
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:57 am

September11 wrote:
Don't forget the 720

First MD-83 was built in 1999


The 720 designation was based on a United (Pat Patterson) requirement that their order for the shorter 707 variant not be perceived as inferior to the 707-1xx; 707-2xx; 707-3xx; and 707-4xx variants. The 720 is actually the 707-0xx.
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:10 am

DeltaPrince wrote:
September11 wrote:
Don't forget the 720

First MD-83 was built in 1999


The 720 designation was based on a United (Pat Patterson) requirement that their order for the shorter 707 variant not be perceived as inferior to the 707-1xx; 707-2xx; 707-3xx; and 707-4xx variants. The 720 is actually the 707-0xx.


Not quite. United has already selected the DC-8 over the 707, but wanted this shorter range 707 version for shorter haul routes. They didn’t want it to look like they’d made a mistake and instead decided the 707 is superior to the DC-8. So they told Boeing that they order it if they made it seem like a new airplane model.
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:20 am

drerx7 wrote:
Because the 717 was a moniker for the military variant of the 707 at the time iirc


The 717 was the KC-135...a derivative of the 367-80, of which the 707 was also a derivative. Military variants of the 707 built for USAF service are 707-153/353 B/C (53 being the Boeing code for USAF)

Not sure if the KC-135 was always the 717-100 or only after the MD-95 was designated 717-200...more research required.

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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:56 am

Long story short, they didn’t skip it. The dash 80 became 2 families of airplanes: The 717/KC-135, and the wider 707. The 707 sold like hotcakes, and the 717 faded into commercial obscurity. When Boeing needed a new name for the MD-95, they dug up the little known 717 and renamed it the -200.
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:13 am

N766UA wrote:
Long story short, they didn’t skip it. The dash 80 became 2 families of airplanes: The 717/KC-135, and the wider 707. The 707 sold like hotcakes, and the 717 faded into commercial obscurity. When Boeing needed a new name for the MD-95, they dug up the little known 717 and renamed it the -200.


I remember the KC-135 but I hadn't realized that Boeing used a different designation (717) for the civilian version. I had always just figured that the KC-135 was the military version of the 707, just as the C-47 was the military version of the DC-3.
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 4:04 am

September11 wrote:
First MD-83 was built in 1999


Take about 15-16 years off that and you'd be in the ballpark.
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 4:09 am

EA CO AS wrote:
September11 wrote:
First MD-83 was built in 1999


Take about 15-16 years off that and you'd be in the ballpark.


Yeah, I'm very curious where they got 1999 from, considering the numbering of the MD-80 family came from the planned year of service entry. MD-83 = 1983.
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 4:54 am

Now what they should have done is call it the 737 and the newer plane the 727
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 7:25 am

SuperGee wrote:
N766UA wrote:
Long story short, they didn’t skip it. The dash 80 became 2 families of airplanes: The 717/KC-135, and the wider 707. The 707 sold like hotcakes, and the 717 faded into commercial obscurity. When Boeing needed a new name for the MD-95, they dug up the little known 717 and renamed it the -200.


I remember the KC-135 but I hadn't realized that Boeing used a different designation (717) for the civilian version. I had always just figured that the KC-135 was the military version of the 707, just as the C-47 was the military version of the DC-3.

Nope, the KC-135 is very different than the 707, with completely different fuselage and a select few interchangeable parts. The 717 would be suitable for only 5 abreast like the CV880. A very different aircraft even if it looks sorta similar to the 707 from 100 yards away. Military 707s served under the variants C-137, TC-18, E-3/6/8.
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 8:15 am

SuperGee wrote:
I remember the KC-135 but I hadn't realized that Boeing used a different designation (717) for the civilian version.


No, there's no civilian version of the C-135 family - rather that's the USAF's designation, whereas Boeing refer to it as the 717-100.
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:27 am

But why are they all called a 7xx?
Why 7?
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:48 am

Amsterdam wrote:
But why are they all called a 7xx?
Why 7?


This article by their archivist Mike Lombardi is most enlightening about why Boeing planes are named the way they are named.

To support this diversification strategy, the engineering department divided the model numbers into blocks of 100 for each of the new product areas: 300s and 400s continued to represent aircraft, 500s would be used on turbine engines, 600s for rockets and missiles and 700s were set aside for jet transport aircraft.


The article also covers the issue regarding the 717

Since both of these offspring of the Dash 80 would be jet transports, the model number system called for a number in the 700s to identify the two new planes. The marketing department decided that "Model 700" did not have a good ring to it for the company's first commercial jet. So they decided to skip ahead to Model 707 because that reiteration seemed a bit catchier. Following that pattern, the other offspring of the Dash 80, the Air Force tanker, was given the model number 717. Since it was an Air Force plane, it was also given a military designation of KC-135.

After 717 was assigned to the KC-135, the marketing department made the decision that all remaining model numbers that began and or ended in 7 would be reserved exclusively for commercial jets. (After the Boeing-McDonnell Douglas merger in the late 1990s, the model number 717 was reused to identify the MD-95 as part of the Boeing commercial jet family.)


https://www.boeing.com/news/frontiers/a ... story.html
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Amsterdam
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:31 pm

Thanks
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:48 pm

TheFlyingDisk wrote:
Amsterdam wrote:
But why are they all called a 7xx?
Why 7?


This article by their archivist Mike Lombardi is most enlightening about why Boeing planes are named the way they are named.

To support this diversification strategy, the engineering department divided the model numbers into blocks of 100 for each of the new product areas: 300s and 400s continued to represent aircraft, 500s would be used on turbine engines, 600s for rockets and missiles and 700s were set aside for jet transport aircraft.


The article also covers the issue regarding the 717

Since both of these offspring of the Dash 80 would be jet transports, the model number system called for a number in the 700s to identify the two new planes. The marketing department decided that "Model 700" did not have a good ring to it for the company's first commercial jet. So they decided to skip ahead to Model 707 because that reiteration seemed a bit catchier. Following that pattern, the other offspring of the Dash 80, the Air Force tanker, was given the model number 717. Since it was an Air Force plane, it was also given a military designation of KC-135.

After 717 was assigned to the KC-135, the marketing department made the decision that all remaining model numbers that began and or ended in 7 would be reserved exclusively for commercial jets. (After the Boeing-McDonnell Douglas merger in the late 1990s, the model number 717 was reused to identify the MD-95 as part of the Boeing commercial jet family.)


https://www.boeing.com/news/frontiers/a ... story.html


Great explanations! And this explains the model numbering for the Boeing Jetfoil hydrofoil boats...Model 929 (commercial)...so that must indicate that marine model numbers blocks were decided to be 900.
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 4:16 pm

BAeRJ100 wrote:
EA CO AS wrote:
September11 wrote:
First MD-83 was built in 1999


Take about 15-16 years off that and you'd be in the ballpark.


Yeah, I'm very curious where they got 1999 from, considering the numbering of the MD-80 family came from the planned year of service entry. MD-83 = 1983.

And especially since in 1999, McDonnell-Douglas was gone, merged into Boeing...
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 4:45 pm

Amsterdam wrote:
But why are they all called a 7xx?
Why 7?


I believe every Boeing passenger plane historically has a 7 somewhere in it's model number going back to the 247, 377, etc. so 7 was a requirement in naming the new jet transport. Was it a combination of luck and/or pure marketing genius to designate it the 707?
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 7:42 pm

global2 wrote:
Amsterdam wrote:
But why are they all called a 7xx?
Why 7?


I believe every Boeing passenger plane historically has a 7 somewhere in it's model number going back to the 247, 377, etc. so 7 was a requirement in naming the new jet transport. Was it a combination of luck and/or pure marketing genius to designate it the 707?


The Models 40, 80, 221 and 314 have not…
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sat Oct 20, 2018 8:04 pm

Aircellist wrote:
global2 wrote:
Amsterdam wrote:
But why are they all called a 7xx?
Why 7?


I believe every Boeing passenger plane historically has a 7 somewhere in it's model number going back to the 247, 377, etc. so 7 was a requirement in naming the new jet transport. Was it a combination of luck and/or pure marketing genius to designate it the 707?


The Models 40, 80, 221 and 314 have not…


Going by Wikipedia, Every "modern" (metal monoplane retracting gear) Boeing passenger airliner (beginning with the 221) has had a model number ending in 7, or a multiple of 7, with the exception of the 720 (which was originally a 707). Before the 707 was the 221, 247, 307, 314, 377, and 367-80.
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:21 am

Fair enough :)
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:19 am

For what it's worth...when I upgraded to the left seat of the KC135A, in 1977, the FAA awarded me a Boeing 707/720 type rating on my civilian FAA Commercial Pilots License. The military did not, and I believe, still doesn't issue pilot licenses. The FAA only issued type ratings for military transport aircraft that had civilian counterparts. Thus, there were no B52 or, for that matter, KC135 type ratings. The FAA's view at that time that the KC 135 was equivalent to the civilian 707/720.
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:15 am

TheFlyingDisk wrote:
This article by their archivist Mike Lombardi is most enlightening about why Boeing planes are named the way they are named.
To support this diversification strategy, the engineering department divided the model numbers into blocks of 100 for each of the new product areas: 300s and 400s continued to represent aircraft, 500s would be used on turbine engines, 600s for rockets and missiles and 700s were set aside for jet transport aircraft.

The article also covers the issue regarding the 717

Since both of these offspring of the Dash 80 would be jet transports, the model number system called for a number in the 700s to identify the two new planes. The marketing department decided that "Model 700" did not have a good ring to it for the company's first commercial jet. So they decided to skip ahead to Model 707 because that reiteration seemed a bit catchier. Following that pattern, the other offspring of the Dash 80, the Air Force tanker, was given the model number 717. Since it was an Air Force plane, it was also given a military designation of KC-135.

After 717 was assigned to the KC-135, the marketing department made the decision that all remaining model numbers that began and or ended in 7 would be reserved exclusively for commercial jets.

https://www.boeing.com/news/frontiers/a ... story.html
I recall reading that article myself a short while back, but from what I recall it omits one curious fact.
At the same time as the Dash 80 was under development, Boeing submitted a proposal for a four-engine, high-wing supersonic bomber somewhat similar to the Rockwell B-1 Lancer. This was Boeing model 701, and would have been better known as the B-59, except it was canceled in late 1952 after the Convair B-58 Hustler was selected instead.
This failure of the Model 701 bomber allowed Boeing to use the remainder of the 700-series for jet transports. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Put it another way; if it hadn't been for the B-58 Hustler, today we would all be flying around in Boeing 838 and 888s.

Just to recap & summarize what others have posted above;
A Boeing 717 (company designation) may also be a KC-135 (USAF designation)
Whereas a Boeing 707 can only be a VC-137, or E-3 or E-6. Or, at a pinch, the strange beast that is the "Northrop Grumman E-8"

And in a similar way, the Lockheed L-300 model is more commonly known as the C-141 Starlifter, and the L-500 is the C-5 Galaxy

Quite how the Lockheed Model 82 morphed into the L-382, L-100 and C-130 is .... best left for another thread. :white:
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Mon Jan 14, 2019 12:23 am

SheikhDjibouti wrote:
Whereas a Boeing 707 can only be a VC-137, or E-3 or E-6. Or, at a pinch, the strange beast that is the "Northrop Grumman E-8"



Don't forget C-18.
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:02 am

BAeRJ100 wrote:
EA CO AS wrote:
September11 wrote:
First MD-83 was built in 1999


Take about 15-16 years off that and you'd be in the ballpark.


Yeah, I'm very curious where they got 1999 from, considering the numbering of the MD-80 family came from the planned year of service entry. MD-83 = 1983.


The last MD-80 was built in 1999, not the first.
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:03 am

BoeingGuy wrote:
DeltaPrince wrote:
September11 wrote:
Don't forget the 720

First MD-83 was built in 1999


The 720 designation was based on a United (Pat Patterson) requirement that their order for the shorter 707 variant not be perceived as inferior to the 707-1xx; 707-2xx; 707-3xx; and 707-4xx variants. The 720 is actually the 707-0xx.


Not quite. United has already selected the DC-8 over the 707, but wanted this shorter range 707 version for shorter haul routes. They didn’t want it to look like they’d made a mistake and instead decided the 707 is superior to the DC-8. So they told Boeing that they order it if they made it seem like a new airplane model.


WOW...unbelievable by today's standards....
but interestingly, didn't Northwest Orient have a similar issue with the DC-10?
Last edited by 727LOVER on Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:06 am

NW wanted Pratt engines but the plane was designed for GE CF-6 engines. Douglas installed Pratts and it became the -40. Legend has it GE official asked what Nyrop had against GE. Nyrop supposedly said, “nothing every time I buy a light bulb, it’s a GE bulb”

GF
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:39 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
NW wanted Pratt engines but the plane was designed for GE CF-6 engines. Douglas installed Pratts and it became the -40. Legend has it GE official asked what Nyrop had against GE. Nyrop supposedly said, “nothing every time I buy a light bulb, it’s a GE bulb”

GF


The P&W DC-10 was originally the series 20. The designation was later changed to the series 40, at the behest of customer Northwest. I believe this was also for marketing purposes, so that NW's DC-10's would appear more advanced than other airlines' series 30 aircraft.
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Wed Jan 16, 2019 6:07 am

So I guess the real question is - why wasn’t the (second) 717 called the 787, which would have meant what is now the 787 would have been the 797? In other words, why recycle the 717 label?
 
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Re: Why Wasn't the Boeing 727 The Boeing 717?

Wed Jan 16, 2019 7:04 am

Dalavia wrote:
So I guess the real question is - why wasn’t the (second) 717 called the 787, which would have meant what is now the 787 would have been the 797? In other words, why recycle the 717 label?

Marketing!! The Boeing SST was going to be the "2707797" So the Next Models after the 797? Might be anything...

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