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Airliner Purchases That Look Foolish In Hindsight  
User currently offlineIslandHopper From United States of America, joined Feb 2003, 327 posts, RR: 2
Posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 7972 times:

I was reading the history of PSA and came across thier ordering L1011s in the early 70s. Fuel was cheap back then and the plan was to fly pax within California in widebody luxury. 2-4-2 seating and an underfloor lounge decked out in bright orange 70's glory! Groovvvy Baby!!!


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However, the first fuel crisis hit just as the planes were delivered. They were used for a few months and parked in the desert for years before being used again by other airlines. Today the notion of flying widebodies intra-state is laughable.

Any other examples of airliners that were purchased that were either too big or too small for their needs, or oddballs in the fleet? Planes they later regretted purchasing?

[Edited 2003-08-01 20:47:34]

83 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineLindy field From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 3120 posts, RR: 14
Reply 1, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 7911 times:
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Hmm... didn't Delta purchase some new-build A310s to replace the beat-up ones they inherited from Pan Am?

User currently offlineUA744Flagship From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 7894 times:

United overestimated the amount of Pacific flying it would be doing by about 14 airplanes.

As a result, ordering an additional 20 744 in the 90s in addition to the 24 it orginally had factored into United's terrible losses over the last 2 years.

United would have been better served with more 767-300s.


User currently offlineCanadi>n From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 7894 times:

Pacific Western purchased a pair of 767-200's back in the early eighties and used them on milk runs across Western Canada in an all-Y config. I think the typical routings were YVR-(YYC or YEG)-(YXE or YYR)-YWG. They quickly realized they had more plane than they needed and the two 767's ended up at Air Canada.

At one point Boeing had ads in Maclean's magazine boasting that all three of Canada's biggest airlines (AC, CP, PW) had ordered the 767.


User currently offlineCapital146 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2003, 2125 posts, RR: 44
Reply 4, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 7843 times:

Air Europe (UK) springs to mind this side of the pond. They ordered MD11's with Rolls-Royce engines (yes, US readers, its true) but went out of business in 1991 before they were delivered. At the time, AE had a policy of only operating aircraft under 5 years old (which in todays marketplace is ludicras) so by now they would probably have been parked up as odd-ball MD11's in the mojave.

I'm sure I could think of better examples of bad aircraft orders given time. The only other is BA's RR powered 767's even though personally I see this as an excellent order. As proud as I am as an englishman to see these aircraft, most of the world thinks they are rather strange, except our good old friends at Qantas.



Like a fine wine, one gets better with age.
User currently offlineIkarus From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 3524 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 7785 times:

Wardair Canada ordering a large number of Fokker 100s, MD80s and Airbus 310s comes to mind. They went bankrupt (or, well, nearly did but got gobbled up by Canadian just in time) due to their overexpansion.

Did they ever take delivery of the MD 80s? I have a photo of one flying around in Wardair livery, but I've never seen any other pics...

Regards

Ikarus


User currently offlineSsides From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 4059 posts, RR: 21
Reply 6, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 7766 times:

We'll have to see, but I think just about any A380 purchase will look foolish 15-20 years from now. I just don't think the market will stand for a plane that large.


"Lose" is not spelled with two o's!!!!
User currently offlineModesto2 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2801 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 7717 times:

AA wasn't particularly fond of its MD-11's. Not necessarily a foolish decision, but the type lasted no more than 10 years with the airline. Airlines (such as AA, DL) soon realized that the 777 exceeded the MD-11 in many ways and ditched them. What a shame...a great looking aircraft.

User currently offlineAndersjt From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 390 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 7648 times:

Didn't America West have a couple of 747's in the stable?


Oh how I long for the day when the skies were truly Friendly!
User currently offlineIkarus From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 3524 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 7622 times:

And, of course, the recent Easyjet & Jetblue orders...  Big grin

User currently offlineVimanav From India, joined Jul 2003, 1516 posts, RR: 14
Reply 10, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 7622 times:

There have been some thought provoking ones in this category. Any airline fleet with a multitude of types is seriously asking for trouble. Its really difficult to justify the costs associated with spares, engineering expertise, crew training etc. when you have various complementary types of aircraft in the fleet.

I think the AF fleet is a prime example: Could hardly understand why they needed the A330-300 / A340 / B777 in their fleet instead of standardizing on one type/manufacturer and opting for different marques. Also their fleet of B737s & A320 family in peaceful coexistence is quite striking.

LH has a similar situation, but they justify it by citing that a multitude of types actually gives Lufthansa Technik the technical expertise on these types and therefore attracts 3rd party business. Logical, until we realize that LH Technik is now a separate business entity from the main Passenger business. Anyways, LH is slowly getting rid of the Boeing types in favour of Airbuses.

TG also has a strange fleet composition, long/medium haul has B744 / MD11 / B777-200/300 / A330. I am surprised they keep declaring profits every year.

KU similarly has just 17 aircraft and five different types (B777 / A340 / A300 / A310 / A320). The number / types go higher if we include the B747-400 which is part of their Amiri fleet and another 742 in storage.

There are many others, these are just a few examples. In perspective, such fleets are a recipe for high costs place a heavy financial burden on the carrier - net net, they look foolish!

Vimanav



Sarfaroshi kii tamannaa ab hamaare dil mein hai, Dekhnaa hai zor kitnaa baazu-e-qaatil mein hai
User currently offlineJETSTAR From United States of America, joined May 2003, 1648 posts, RR: 10
Reply 11, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 7582 times:
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In the mid 1990's, America West used leased 747's for PHX/HNL service in a somewhat ill advised expansion, I believe these 747's were ex KLM.

I was returning from HNL to STL on a TW 747 which was cancelled because of a maintenance problem. Parked next to us was an America West 747 that also had a cancellation due to a maintenance problem. Needless to say there was a lot of scrambling around by TW and HP trying to find another carrier out of HNL for their stranded passengers.

We were lucky and got some of the last seats out on a AA DC-10 to LAX.

After HP realized they could not make money on the Hawaii flights, they returned the 747's and dropped the mainland to Hawaii flights.

These 747's wound up in the desert and were scrapped.


User currently offlineArtsyman From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 4745 posts, RR: 34
Reply 12, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 7581 times:

I would have to think that the large order that swiss made last year as part of their re-planning must be considered suspect.

User currently offlineIslandHopper From United States of America, joined Feb 2003, 327 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 7546 times:

This thread isn't about judging orders recently made, time will tell. I wanted to hear about mistakes in hindsight. You can learn from history, but speculation is useless.

I thought of another good example. Continental bought 720s in 1966...from factory new to scrap dealer within 10 years:

cn 19002 N17207 720-024B. Delivered Feb 66, scrapped Mar 76.
cn 19003 N17208 720-024B. Delivered Feb 66, scrapped Apr 76.

What were they thinking with those? Why not get 727s that could do the same job, no? Perhaps these were white-tails that Boeing gave CO a steal on.


User currently offlineBraniff727 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 686 posts, RR: 1
Reply 14, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 7485 times:

Braniff II picked up the Pan Am order for 50 A320's with options for an additional 50. They also ordered 17 F100's.

I believe 3 or 4 320's made it into service before they shut down. F100's weren't even produced.



Climbing
User currently offline747buff From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 742 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 7478 times:

Pan Am bought a fleet of 12 L1011-500s in the late 1970s and early 80s, for routes which needed a widebody aircraft, but couldn't fill up a 747. Unfortunately, around the time PA received their first L10s, they purchased National Airlines, which had a large fleet of DC10s. This was cited as one reason that the NA merger was a mistake. PA now had a fleet of every type of widebody aircraft on the market at that time, increasing their expenses, which only increased their financial losses. IMHO, PA would've been better off purchasing DC10-30s. Half of their L1011 fleet was sold in 1984 and 1985 (with most going to Delta, I believe), and the remaining six went to United in early 1986 as part of the Pacific route sale.


At Eastern, we earn our wings every day!
User currently offlineVimanav From India, joined Jul 2003, 1516 posts, RR: 14
Reply 16, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 7477 times:

SK purchase of A300s in the late 70s/early80s (I'm not too sure) and then getting rid of them in a few years (max 5) must rank high.

LH purchased several B737-400s 1992 which too did not last too long in the fleet and were out by 2000 (I think).

PK had DC10s for a short while.

AI had a couple of Tristars (leased from Caribjet) for about a year I suppose. The deal is apparently under scrutiny.

SQ A340s - the less said the better.

PA - DC8s

rgds//Vimanav



Sarfaroshi kii tamannaa ab hamaare dil mein hai, Dekhnaa hai zor kitnaa baazu-e-qaatil mein hai
User currently offlineFanofjets From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 1985 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 7470 times:

The all-time bad purchase was United buying up all the initial-production Boeing 247s, trying to gain a monopoly with the new low-wing monoplane, forcing other airlines to look elsewhere. TWA worked with Douglas to produce the DC-2, which was followed by the DC-3, clearly outclassing the Boeing product.

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Photo © Charles A. Rau




The aeroplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
User currently offlineJETSTAR From United States of America, joined May 2003, 1648 posts, RR: 10
Reply 18, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 7418 times:
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How about the old National Airlines buying 747's to use between JFK and MIA.

Flying an airplane capable of 10 or more hours in the air for a 2 1/2 hour flight.
It cost them a fortune to carry all that extra aluminum around on what is basically a low profit run.

And this forced both Eastern and Delta to use 747's to compete.

I think these 747's lasted about 3 years before all the airlines realized they were losing money on almost all the flights and they dumped their 747's about the same time.


User currently offlineElwood64151 From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 2477 posts, RR: 6
Reply 19, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 7387 times:

NJ originally operated 737-300s, then dumped them for 737-200s. Most of the 732s were older model aircraft that were severely limited in their range. It took four years to get rid of all the really bad 732s, and we were still flying six of more 732s at the end. The MD-80s were a huge improvement. Now if we'd just gotten just a few more just a bit faster...

Cheers!



Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
User currently offlineThirtyEcho From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 1651 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 7378 times:

Dumbass move of the century has to be Braniff's lease of a Concorde to fly subsonic from Dallas to JFK.

User currently offlineCapital146 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2003, 2125 posts, RR: 44
Reply 21, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 7366 times:

Yes, ThirtyEcho, I have to agree that it is defeating the whole object of the purpose.


Like a fine wine, one gets better with age.
User currently offlineN79969 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 22, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 7354 times:

Sabena needed 17 A320 but purchased 34 instead helping put the company into serious financial trouble.

User currently onlineTriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4695 posts, RR: 42
Reply 23, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 7308 times:

German charter airline LTU pursued a rather questionable replacement strategy for their fleet of ten L1011's in the late 80's. Not only did they order about 5 or 6 A330, but also 4 or 5 MD-11, both with an option for more. At the same time. LTU's fleet also consisted of B757 and 767.

Therefore, during a period between 1991, when the first MD-11 was delivered, and 1996, when the last TriStar left the fleet, LTU's modest fleet of about 30 aircraft consisted of 5 types from four manufacturers with four different cockpits.  Wow!
The ensuing troubles to keep such a chequered fleet in profitable operation were further increased when it turned out that the MD-11, which were supposed to fly on long-haul routes (the virtually equal-sized A330 were scheduled on medium haul routes), offered just too many seats for the longhaul leisure destinations LTU served. Instead, the 767 proved to be the ideal aircraft, both in terms of performance and capacity on most of the routes.

In order to standardize its hotchpotch fleet, LTU decided to withdraw the MD-11 by late 1998. At this time, some longhaul routes demanded higher capacities than the 767 could provide. Thus longhaul flying with the A330-300 was started, and further examples of the type added. As this wasn't the high-gross weight version of the -300, and the -200 was still a few years away, LTU had to operate the A330 with reduced seating; about 1/4 of the seats had to be left vacant on longhaul flights. Hardly a profit-making decision on low-yiedling charter routes!

To cut a long story short, the situation at LTU has somewhat imrpved over recent years after bankcruptcy was narrowly averted with a much-discussed state loan in 2001.
Nowadays, the MD-11, 757 and 767 have left the fleet as have some of the A330-300. Instead, further A330-200 were added plus A320/321 as replacement for the 757. Today LTU operated a single-cockpit fleet of just two types from a single manufacturer - A320/321 and A330-200/-300, increasing the economic turnover greatly.

In hindsight, acquring the MD-11 was a very bad decision, since the aircraft proved to be too big on longhauls and wasn't as economical to operate on medium hauls like the similar sized fleet sister, the A330-300.
But the hotchpotch fleet was just one incredibly obvious dumb decision of the inept LTU management of the 1990's.






Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
User currently offlineCanadi>nBoy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (11 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 7268 times:

That photo of the PSA L-1011 at the start of this topic does bring back memories. My old employer and now defunct carrier, Worldways Canada Ltd.,
purchased 2 of PSA's L-1011's (complete with the lower lounges) I worked many a flight on those 2 birds.


25 Ssides : When did DL dump its last L-1011s? I remember flying one DFW-FLL circa 1995.
26 Canadi>nBoy : "Did they (Wardair) ever take delivery of the MD 80s?" No. PWA Corp purchased Wardair shortly after the WD order for the MD-80's were placed.
27 Luv2fly : The HP 747's were for the HNL market that continued on to Japan as well! It was not NRT I believe it was OSA? Short lived tho I will say this the plan
28 747buff : HP's Japan route was PHX-HNL-NGO.
29 Srbmod : Delta retired their last L-1011 in the Summer of 2001. Speaking of Delta, I nominate their Convair 880s as a foolish airliner purchase.
30 Luv2fly : Thanks for the info 747buff I knew it was not NRT.
31 L.1011 : Actually the DC-8 was great planning for PA. Juan Trippe made sure he had all his bases covered. He figured- "If the 707 fails, I still have the -8, i
32 DesertJets : The America West 747 is definately a bad one, and not even in hindsight. There were actually 4 ex-KLM birds that wore HP colors, though never more tha
33 Dutchjet : Someone above commented on National Airlines 2 747-100s, which they flew JFK-MIA-LAX and then on the MIA-LHR route, at least that made some sense. Wha
34 Srbmod : Eastern's A300s were 100 and 200 series, which lacked the range of the later 600 series, so Eastern's use of them on domestic routes fit. If it wasn't
35 Gigneil : All things told, the A300 and A310 are ideal planes for the high density domestic market - better than the 767 due to less capability and increased se
36 Ssides : It would be interesting to see what would have happened in the airline industry had fuel prices not skyrocketed in the 70s. I think this is a sometime
37 AvObserver : "As for my contribution to the thread - what about SAA's buy of all those 738s? They're all but brand new, and already new A320 series planes on order
38 Lufthansa : I nominate Aeroflot. The Grandest one of them all being the Tu-144, which ended up spending more time flying mail supersonically than anything else!
39 OzarkD9S : The 747 was a bad move for nearly ALL US carriers, Northwest and possibly Pan Am excepted. Pan Am ordered too many, they (and definately TWA) should h
40 Behramjee : Probably the smartest fleet replacement decision for a major Intl carrier has to be KLMs : B 744s + 744ER Freighters for long haul high density routes
41 Behramjee : I find the SAS purchases of A 321s and A 330-300s + 343s wierd as with a large 737NG fleet, the 739 would have been better though with 15-20 fewer sea
42 Gr8slvrflt : Eastern ordered a large number of DC-7s, Super Constellations and Convair 440s in the mid-fifties right when the jets were right around the corner. Mo
43 Post contains links and images Fanofjets : Lake Central should have ordered something more powerful and reliable than the Nord 262 - either F27s or Viscounts, or upgraded its CV340s to turbine
44 MBMBOS : TWA's purchase of three 747-SPs always seemed peculiar. They initially purchased them in anticipation of being awarded one of the firts US - China rou
45 Post contains images USAIRWAYS321 : Sorry to revive a nearly dead thread, but the first move that came to my mind was Horizon's Do328's. Horizon was the launch customer for the type, and
46 Aa757first : How about Tower Air's fleet? Why not 767? Gee, I wonder why their bankrupt? Poor service, old planes (also in poor condition!)
47 Dstc47 : British Airways (then BEA) wanted to order the B737 but were leaned on to purchase the Trident, which was not the worst of aircraft and one I always l
48 Post contains images IloveBOI : Here are all I know/think of... UA L1011s DL A310s and DC10s AA 747s HP 747s TWA 747SPs SQ 757s I BOI
49 ClipperNo1 : Air Namibia: Brought in the 767 to replace the 747SP in 97. They dumped the 767 after less than 3 months and flew the 747SP again. After a year or so
50 L-188 : My employer buying a Lear 25.
51 Post contains images AA777 : AA had a few interesting buys.... their 747's. their MD-11's, which lasted barely ten years? It seems they bought them to replace the aging DC-10 flee
52 Post contains images Gulfair : Lets not forget Qantas' Airbus A300 fleet that they operated in the early 1980's to the late 1990's, obviously standardising the fleet with only 767 a
53 L.1011 : Gulfair, QF inherited those from Australian, though your right they shouldve dumped them. Seem QF isnt too happy with the 330s either.
54 Doug_or : Ilove BOI- the delta dc-10s were inherited from western the UAL L10s were from the purchase of PanAms pacific divsion. I believe all the rest have dis
55 Osteogenesis : L.1011, Gulfair, QF inherited those from Australian, though your right they shouldve dumped them. Seem QF isnt too happy with the 330s either. This wa
56 Post contains images Srbmod : Actually, Delta's operated DC-10s twice. They ordered some in the early 1970s as insurance while the L-1011 was in limbo. Once they started getting th
57 Edina : Jersey/British European's/FlyBe's CRJs didnt last too long either.
58 Post contains images Gigneil : Neil, I know this was discussed before but to what do YOU attribute this to? There was talk of performance problems with the hot/hi fields prevalent
59 Post contains images IloveBOI : HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT ABOUT ME !!!!!!! Just Kidding . I BOIse, ID(Happy?)
60 Airman99o : Hey there, Would have to say Canadi>n Buying WardAir, and then Canceling the order for the 737-300's and keeping their old 200's, Keeping the DC-!) in
61 Manni : The United States Air force, that is going to lease 100 767's rather than buying them.
62 Stefandotde : Gulfair: "Lets not forget Qantas' Airbus A300 fleet that they operated in the early 1980's to the late 1990's, obviously standardising the fleet with
63 TransGlobal2 : Actually, BEA wanted the 727. The 737 wasn't out yet.
64 L.1011 : To all those critizing me, You are disagreeing with Gordon Swansbourough, Gunther Endres, and other highly respected aviation authors and not with me.
65 Stefandotde : L 1011 - no own opinion? And did the highly respected aviation authors write that QF doesn't seem to be that happy with the 330? They must make a good
66 Coronado : It certainly looks like AA regrets investing in the F100 just as their Eagle subsidiary is ramping up into the regional jet age.
67 Post contains images AvObserver : Posted by Gigneil: "I think they bought the Airbus family concept lock stock and barrel and are going for it... for better or worse." "That really als
68 Ssides : It certainly looks like AA regrets investing in the F100 just as their Eagle subsidiary is ramping up into the regional jet age. I agree 100%. Ditto f
69 Post contains images Marara : QF arent happy with the 330 - and before u all start yelling let me finish - on the CityFlyer MEL - SYD - MEL services. Turn arounds are too long. As
70 IMissPiedmont : Someone above mentiont the CO 720 and said that it was 10 years from delivery to scrap/ He also questioned whether they were "white tails." The 720, o
71 Bestwestern : In Europe: EI - 767-300 (Gulf war killed LAX market originally) BD - A330-200 (no market) BE - CRJ (too expensive to operate) IB - 757 (too similar to
72 Stefandotde : Marada: "QF arent happy with the 330 - and before u all start yelling let me finish - on the CityFlyer MEL - SYD - MEL services. Turn arounds are too
73 Post contains images UTA_flyinghigh : Back in the 1990's political pressures made Air Inter (French domestic airline serving a few European markets) become the launch customer for the A330
74 Mandala499 : Some Indonesian examples. Garuda's purchase of 737-500s... they ordered too many, all but 4 I think are left. Originally bought to replace the Fokker
75 RJ : Delta's purchase of the MD-90. I believe only 16 are in service, and with the 737-800 being ordered in large numbers, this aircraft is a redheaded st
76 Elwood64151 : OzarkD9S wrote: One of the shrewdest moves was Braniff NOT ordering a fleet of 747's or DC-10/L-1011's in the early 70's. They standardized on the 727
77 Na : The 747 is my favorite plane by far, but I must say that many airlines made a mistake ordering or operating it, whether out of image reasons (the Jone
78 IslandHopper : IMissPiedmont, Thanks for the info on the 720s. I always thought the 720 was a stopgap until the 727 was produced. Why do you think CO ordered these i
79 WorldTraveler : keep in mind that the 777 was not a transpac option for AA or DL at the time they bought the MD11. Flying the 777 over the Pacific has only happened i
80 Coronado : Thai ordering 7 747's from UAL weeks before the SARS crisis exploedes and Asian traffic tanks. I wonder how much money they have tied up in these a/c
81 Milesrich : The 720 was a stop gap airplane but held more people and had more range than the 727. Only American,United, Aer Lingus, Pacific Northern, Braniff and
82 Milesrich : Bad Equipment Decisions: AA Convair 990's and BAC-111-400's. TW L-1649's EA DC-7B's, 1049G's, too many L-188 Electras, too few DC-8's. Much has been w
83 CMK10 : The 1978-79 Iran Oil crisis finished off all of the Four Engine Narrow Body Jets. Thats incorrect, United flew its DC-8's (A Four Engine Narrow Body)
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