Re: Delta Air Lines fleet renewal

Date:         30 Apr 97 03:19:11 
From:         Steve Lacker <>
Organization: applied research laboratories
References:   1 2 3 4 5
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Alan Wong wrote:
> >
> > There are still plenty of them to be seen daily at ORD (AA, UA), STL
> > (TW), just to mention a few.
> Steve Lacker meant 727s are almost extinct outside the Americas. And he's
> right.  Passenger 727s are being retired rather quickly or converted to
> cargo only.

Actually, it was J. Heilig who made that comment in answer to my
statement that I would miss them when they do retire.

I found his comment interesting and unusual- the history of most other
airliners is that when they reach the age of the 727, you find MORE of
them in passenger service OUTSIDE the US than inside (take the 707 for
example). With the 727 however, several American carriers are
tenaciously hanging on to them (Delta, UA, TWA, and to a much lesser
degree AA). Presumably, they plan to get every ounce of life out of them
that they can. Is that simply a matter of timing? Have the impending
Stage III restrictions so drastically lowered the resale value of 727's
that it is more economical to fly them to the end of life rather than
sell them off with fewer hours/cycles on the airframes? Or is it that
the fact that the 727 (especially the -200 Advanced models which are the
ones still in service) is still economically competitive with newer
airliners? I know that most pilots I've talked to really like the 727,
but I doubt that pilot preference figures heavily into an airline's
economic decisions :-)

My understanding of airline economics is still tenuous, at best.

As a footnote- Yesterday I was walking back to my office after lunch,
and a Delta 727 was turning on approach to AUS directly overhead, flaps
and gear down. The thought that hit me was that it was a far more
"interesting" silhouette to look at than any of its replacements. The
obvious area of interest is, of course, the engine installation, but I
think the change in sweepback in both the leading and trailing edges of
the wing adds a lot to its appeal. In comparison, MD-80 and 737 wings
look like popsicle sticks glued to a cylinder.

Stephen Lacker
Applied Research Laboratories, The University of Texas at Austin
PO Box 8029, Austin TX 78713-8029