1208. Weight Reduction – A Continuing Challenge


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E E McKee: 1208. Weight Reduction – A Continuing Challenge. 1978.



The outward appearance of the 727-200 could lead one to believe that all 800 that have been built are virtually the same. However, since the first flight of a 727-200 on July 27, 1967, there has been a continuing effort to improve the 727. These improvements have resulted in increased gross weights, improved service life and added fuel capacities, among other things. In general, these design improvements have increased the operational empty weight (OEW); and while the advantages of these performance type improvements have more than offset the weight penalty related to the change, not all operators need the performance improvements in day-to-day service. To offset this weight growth and to deliver a more fuel-efficient airplane, Boeing has conducted a number of dedicated weight-reduction efforts. These programs have reduced the weight of the 727-200 by more than 2000 pounds.
There has been a wide range of changes incorporated into the airplane under these weight reduction programs. They range from the use of improved materials to incorporation of new design concepts, and even include deletion of items that are no longer needed. Some of these modifications are: new composite floor panels, redesigned thrust reversers and deletion of the inboard aileron balance weights. Approval to make any of these modifications has been subject to the determination that they would not affect the safety, reliability and operability of the airplane.
The reduction effort has met with good support from the airlines; many of the items committed for production are being purchased for retrofit. The future holds a continuing opportunity for further weight reductions through the use of advanced aluminum alloys and composites. A prototype production and in-service test program is currently underway on composite rudders and elevators on the 727-200, a further example of weight reduction and weight control as a continuing effort rather than an effort associated only with the initial design phase.


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