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Frontiers September 2013 Issue

Gone … but not forgotten 30 BEIO NG FRONTEIRS / SEPTEMBER 2013 The fleet of 16 Boeing 707, 727, 737 and 747 airplanes purchased by Iraqi Airways in the 1970s and early 1980s is gone. Around the time of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the government ordered that the commercial airplane fleet be moved to secret locations outside the country. Although a small number of these airplanes may still be in use by foreign airlines, the rest have deteriorated beyond repair. The fleet included three 747-200C’s (Convertible), which could be configured to serve as a passenger airplane, a freighter or a combination of both. After first purchasing this airplane in 1975, the airline made the unusual request for Boeing to design and build a special cargo loader that could be folded up and carried on board the airplane. Joe Sutter, the “father” of the 747 who led the development team as chief engineer in the 1960s, said the loader was one of the most spectacular pieces of special equipment the company had designed at that time. “It was designed so if you landed at an airport without adequate loading facilities, you could use this onboard loader,” Sutter said. “The nose would open and the loader would move forward to the front of the airplane. It would then extend its arms and legs and pull itself out onto the ground. I just marveled when I first saw it work.” The last Boeing airplane delivery to Iraq in that era occurred on Aug. 30, 1982. That was a 747-SP (Special Performance), which had a shortened fuselage and was designed to fly higher, faster and farther nonstop than any 747 model of its time. It had a specially designed interior and was used as an executive aircraft by Saddam Hussein, who had become Iraq’s president in 1979. Richard Tait, now retired, who led the first Boeing sales to Iraqi Airways 40 years ago, said those early sales helped establish Boeing as the commercial airplane supplier of choice in that region. “I’m delighted that they’re buying Boeing airplanes again,” he said of the Next-Generation 737s and 787s that have been ordered by Iraqi Airways. “It means they still believe, after all these years, that Boeing products are the best.” – Bill Seil


Frontiers September 2013 Issue
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