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B720 Comes to the NAFMC

May 9, 2012 (8 Wing/CFB Trenton, ON) – Pratt & Whitney Canada is one of the most successful manufacturers of turboprop and small turbofan engines in the world. For more than two decades, between 1988 and 2010, the Québec-based company flight tested its engines on a specially-modified Boeing 720-023B.

Introduced by Boeing in 1959, the 720 is a smaller capacity, lighter, medium range variant of the 707, one of the most successful airliners of the 20th century. C-FETB is the 720 flying test bed operated by Pratt & Whitney Canada until 2010.  One of 154 model 720s manufactured by Boeing between 1959 and 1967, C-FETB is the single remaining operational 720 in the world. On May 9, 2012 the aircraft will make its final flight, traveling from Saint-Hubert to CFB Trenton – the last flight ever of a 720.

Eager to preserve this historically significant test bed, Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) and the Canada Aviation and Space Museum (CASM) came to an agreement that will see the 720 go on loan to the National Air Force Museum of Canada, in Trenton, Ontario.

“The Canada Aviation and Space Museum prides itself in charting not only Canada’s rich aviation and space heritage but also the celebration of important milestones in the history and technology of flight,” said Stephen Quick, Director General of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.  “Pratt and Whitney Canada have shown great foresight in donating this important aircraft to the national collection so that future generations of Canadians will be able to understand its significance and the important role it played in our aviation history.” 

“For the last 24 years, the Boeing 720 helped Pratt & Whitney Canada test over 8 different families of engines” said Marc Kirner, Director Flight Operation, Pratt & Whitney Canada. “Today, we are thrilled to have this historical part of our Flight Test Operation displayed and preserved where all Canadians can witness and learn about this unique, one of a kind aircraft.”

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Aircraft History

[table id=33 /] The Model 720-023B offered to the corporation (construction number 18024) is the 177th Model 707-type airplane made by Boeing Airplane. Rolled out on October 28th, 1960, the airplane, registered as N7538A, flew on January 14th, 1961. It was delivered to American Airlines on February 3rd. This airline operated N7538A until August 1971, when it was put in storage in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Middle East Airlines (MEA), the largest airline in Lebanon, bought the airplane on September 25th, 1971. Re-registered as OD-AFQ, the airplane was delivered to its new owner on September 30th. Like many, if not most MEA airplanes, OD-AFQ was forced to stay away from its main base in Beirut when Israel invaded Lebanon, in June 1982, and occupied a good part of the country until 1985. Based at Orly, an airport near Paris, the airplane occasionally flew passengers for Air France and Air Inter, another French airline.

Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) bought the Model 720B in December 1985 and re-registered it as C-FETB (FETB as in Flying Experimental Test Bed) on January 10th, 1986. A series of modification were made after this date.
C-FETB did its flight acceptance flight on October 9th, 1986. A PWC crew flew the airplane across the Atlantic on October 12th.

Known internally as FTB1 (Flying test bed 1), C-FETB was thoroughly modified for its new role between October 1986 and January 1988.
It was equipped to test a variety of engines, for example:

  • A large turbofan could take the place of the inside / inner engine underneath the right / starboard wing.
  • A small turbofan could be mounted on the right / starboard side of the forward fuselage.
  • A turboprop could be mounted in the nose.

The following engine types were tested on C-FETB:

  • the International Aero Engines (IAE) V2500 turbofan
  • the Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D turbofan
  • the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW300 turbofan
  • the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW500 turbofan
  • the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW600 turbofan
  • the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop
  • the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW100 turboprop

Leaving St-Hubert Airport