Boeing 720

From: (C. Marin Faure)
Date:         18 Dec 1997 11:16:34 -0500
Organization: Northwest Nexus Inc.
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I recall awhile back in these newsgroups someone asking why the Boeing 720
was called that as opposed to a 707-something.  In the course of
researching a video project today I came across a brief explanation as to
how Boeing arrived at that particular designation.  The company felt there
was a market for a short to medium range version of the 707.  The
subsequent design, while looking similar to the 707-320 then in
production, was actually much different.  While some parts were common to
the 707-120 and 320, the new plane was much lighter and had completely
different wings with different sweep angles and control surfaces.  It
originally was going to be called the 707-020 as it was smaller and
lighter than the 707-120 and -320.  Whoever was in charge of model names
didn't like that so they decided to call it the 717-020 because its short
fuselage was more like the KC-135 (Boeing 717) than the other 707 models.
But 717 didn't sound right either, so they decided to call it the 720-020
which is what it actually became.

Another piece of trivia is that Boeing and the FAA do not call the two
most popular 707 models the same thing.  At Boeing, they were called the
707-120 and the 707-320.  But the FAA, and therefore the Type
Certificates, call the planes the 707-100 and 707-300.  Incidentally,
there was a 707-200 which is how Boeing got to the 300s for the long-range

C. Marin Faure
  author, Flying A Floatplane