The 720 was a variant of the Boeing 707
designed for airport
s with short runway
s. It first flew for United Airlines
, and production ended in 1967
after a total run of 154 aircraft, including turbofan
aircraft called "720B"s.
There were two main differences between the 707 and 720. First, the 720 had a noticably shorter fuselage, 9 feet (2.7 m) less than the 707's. The other major difference was the wing design: the 720 had huge Kreuger flaps and slats to optimize its takeoff performance at small airports.
Five 720's are stored in museums across the world. Four are still operational: two are based in Aruba, and two more are used to test new engines (the fifth engine attached to the side of the fuselage gives them away).
There have been seven fatal 720 crashes. The worst was in 1965, when PIA flight 705 crashed on approach at Cairo, killing 121 passengers. MEA flight 438, which was bombed en route from Beirut to Dubai, claimed 81 lives in 1976. Eight parked MEA 720's were destroyed on the ground in Beirut between 1981 and 1985, although nobody died in those particular attacks.
To round out this grim list, NASA intentionally crashed a remote controlled 720 in 1984 in order to test new fire retardant systems. The cabin was filled with dummy passengers to simulate the effects a fuel tank explosion would have on crash victims.
Wingspan: 130'10" (42.3 m)
Length: 136'2" (43.9 m)
Height: 41'7" (13.4 m)
Empty weight: 50 t
Engines: 4 Pratt & Whitney JT3C-7 turbojets
Cruise speed: 600 mph (960 kph)
Range: 3300 mi (5280 km)