Aviation News

May 11, 2012

The Last Flying Boeing 720 Flies No More

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The last flying Boeing 720 (C-FETB), whose final decades were spent working as a Pratt & Whitney engine testbed, is seen here taking off from Plattsburgh in 2008. (Photo by Senga Butts)

This week marked the final flight of the last remaining airworthy Boeing 720, concluding the unique airliner’s nearly 53 years of service.

Used for engine testing by Pratt & Whitney for the past couple of decades, this particular plane, wearing registration C-FETB, was originally delivered to Pan Am American Airlines in the 1960s and later flew for MEA.

PHOTO GALLERY: Onboard the Last Boeing 720

The 720 was a shortened, high-performance variant of the Boeing 707, originally dubbed the 707-020. While it wasn’t a great seller, with only 154 delivered, the 720 was succeeded by the Boeing 727 which went on to become the best selling jetliner of its day.

As Aviation Week’s Guy Norris points out in his farewell to the aircraft, its ability to fly at a variety of speeds and altitudes made it ideal for testing not only jet engines, but prop engines and various avionics equipment.

The second-to-last 720 in the skies was another Pratt & Whitney testbed, registered N720PW. It was retired in 2008.

C-FETB is now at the National Air Force Museum of Canada at CFB Trenton in Trenton, Ontario, where it will remain on indefinite loan from Pratt & Whitney.

Pratt & Whitney has transferred the 720’s duties to another odd duck, high performance Boeing: the 747SP.

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