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Six Most Influential Airliners  
User currently offlineRichierich From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 4539 posts, RR: 6
Posted (12 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4684 times:

I am talking about historically influential, not necessary personally influential here.

Everyone has a Top 10 list, or even the abbrebviated Top 5 list. So to be different, I thought I'd start a Top 6! Here's mine:

1) Douglas DC-3 The grand-daddy of all modern airliners. The fact that some parts of the world still fly them (although many are in rough shape) is proof enough for me that this was one of the all time best airliners!

2) Concorde Enough said. I, for one, will miss them when they disappear forever in just a few weeks  Sad

3) Boeing 707 I don't know that anyone would have believed the 707 was going to be such a success. It carried Boeing into the forefront of civilian aircraft makers and afforded the middle class a chance to fly. Prior to this aircraft, flying was so expensive it was prohibitive for many people.

4) de Havilland Comet The first jetliner. Yes, we all know about the tragic metal fatigue problems. Keep in mind this all happened years BEFORE the 707 and DC-8 had even made their first commercial flights!; there were many crucial and painful lessons learned from the Comet crashes. Later versions of the Comet proved themselves as reliable, economical and safe machines.

5) Boeing 737 The world's most popular airliner, although modern versions are very different from the original -100s and -200s! The workhorse of many airlines, both now and 30 years ago, the 737 soldiers on and will be with us in mainline operation well past 2020!

6) Boeing 747 The big guy! Unfortunately, I think time is catching up with the 747 and my predication is that production will come to a halt within 5-8 years. Still, the 747 is the largest airliner and has more than proved itself as an over-engineered (ie, safe) and economical airplane. If the 707 brought prices down for the middle class to fly, the 747 brought it down so that everyone can fly! With some 747s having more than 450 seats, everyone literally can fly! I still think they should not fly and I always marvel at them when I am lucky enough to be on a 747!

Well, that's my list of most influential airliners.
Let me know your lists and reasons!

None shall pass!!!!
36 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineBehramjee From Canada, joined Aug 2003, 5354 posts, RR: 47
Reply 1, posted (12 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4657 times:

You can add the B 767, DC 10 and B 777 to that list as well as the B 747F and DC 10F

User currently offlineFutureualpilot From United States of America, joined May 2000, 2642 posts, RR: 7
Reply 2, posted (12 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4630 times:

I cant pick a top 5, but if I had to, I'd agree with Richierich, those airliners definitley amde a big impact on air travel today.

Life is better when you surf.
User currently offlineGr8slvrflt From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 1646 posts, RR: 10
Reply 3, posted (12 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 4595 times:

My choices:

1 - Boeing 247. The DC-3 was an enlarged DC-2, itself a stretched DC-1 which was an answer to the 247! The Boeing was the first all-metal, low-wing, monoplane, twin-engine airliner that set the pattern for decades.

2 - Boeing 307. The Stratoliner was the first pressurized airliner.

3 - de Havilland Comet - First jet. Nuff said.

4 - Boeing 707 - Set the pace for all jets to follow with swept wings and podded engines.

5 - Beoing 747 - First widebody and first with high-bypass engines.

6 - Boeing 767 - Led the charge for overwater twins.

The Concorde is a masterpiece but ultimately influenced nothing.

I work for Southwest, but the views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent those of Southwest.
User currently offlineATA L1011 From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 1456 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (12 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 4550 times:

1)DC-3 1st widely used commercial transport
2)Comet 1st commercial jet transport
3)707 1st widely used jet transport with intercontinental capability
4)747 1st widebody transport with high bypass engines
5)Concorde only commercial supersonic airliner to be used in service 144 wasnt.
6)767 1st ailriner to use a mostly Electronic/computerized flt deck

[Edited 2003-08-21 01:36:38]

Treat others as you expect to be treated!
User currently offlineSolnabo From Sweden, joined Jan 2008, 930 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (12 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 4541 times:

1 - A300 Worlds first widebody-twinjet for medium range
2 - DC 3/Skytrain for WW 2
3 - DeHavilland Comet, 1st pax jetliner (1949)
4 - B747, airliner for the masses
5 - Concorde, most beatiful bird ever flown

Airbus SAS - Love them both
User currently offlineCanyonBlue From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (12 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 4516 times:

1.) DC-3 Made commercial travel, period
2.) 707 Was the first jet aircraft that could fly international and longer distances faster than prop planes
3.) Concorde. Supersonic travel is now a reality
4.) 747 High capacity long range transport for passengers and cargo
5.) A320 First fly by wire aircraft forever changing the idea of stick and rudder

Honorable mentions:

DC-6/7, 737-200, DC-9-10, 757-200, 767-200, and the Comet

User currently offlineSllevin From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 3376 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (12 years 9 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 4468 times:

Okay, I'll try and be short:

1) Ford TriMotor. Brought reliable air travel to reality

2) DC-3. Can't argue with what became a standard.

3) Comet. No explanation needed there!

4) 707. Again, jet's for the masses

5) 747. Bringing the world together, and inexpensively.

6) 767/757. Pioneering ETOPS and flight deck commonality.


User currently offlineSrbmod From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (12 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 4429 times:

1. DC-3. Still many of them plying the skies 60+ years after they were built.
2. DC-8. It's the DC-3 of the Jet Age, 40+ years old and still plying the skies.
3. Sud Caravelle. The plane that inspired many imitators (DC-9 family, BAC 1-11, nearly every single biz jet).
4. Lockheed C-5A. While not an airliner, it played an important role in the development of #5.
5. Boeing 747. Based on Boeing's failed design for the C-5 program, the first jet to truly be a world traveller.

User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13605 posts, RR: 76
Reply 9, posted (12 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 4378 times:

1) DC-3 - Sheer numbers, sheer reliability and strength, sheer usage (how many airlines started out with WW2 surplus Dakotas?).
2) Comet - Despite a tragic false start, made jet travel a reality, probably brought forward the development of the....
3) 707 - Boeing arrive, an expansion of fast, reliable air travel.
4) 747 - The widebody arrives, Boeing took a risk a won, travel for the masses, the Ocean liner of the jet age.
5) Concorde - Never mind the numbers built, it showed the need for European co-operation, it hugely raised the game of the technology base of the industry in the UK and France leading to....
6) A320 - Not the first Airbus, but they arrived big time with this, got a reputation for innovation and took the common flightdecks of the 757/767 a stage further.

User currently offlineAM744 From Mexico, joined Jun 2001, 1863 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (12 years 9 months 2 weeks ago) and read 4308 times:

Being the first is certainly important, but not always influential in air transport as we know it. Here's my list.

1.- DC-3 Made commercial transport feasible.
2.- 707 The beginning of jet era. (Would've existed even if Comet hadn't)
3.- 747 We all know.
4.- 757/767 Same reasons as Sllavin

User currently offlineTommy767 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (12 years 9 months 2 weeks ago) and read 4300 times:

1. 707--Launch of commercial jetliners.
2. 747--4 engine, double decker
3. 767--1st Computerized, twin engined widebody (by boeing)
4. 777--First A/C to have PTV's in coach.
5. 757--Boeing's answer to a new 727 with drop down TV's, and engines on the wings.

User currently offlineCptkrell From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 3220 posts, RR: 12
Reply 12, posted (12 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 4227 times:

Ford Trimotor
Boeing 247
Douglas DC-3
Boeing 707
Boeing 747
(perhaps the DC9...smallish jet answer to the DC-3 in its' original config?)

I'm dying to squeeze in a Connie somewhere in the list, but although probably the most beautiful propliner, it really wouldn't rate quite as high as the Douglas
DC-7C. Sorry for the Comet and Concorde fans; Comet was the "first", yes, but as far a being ultimately influencial, I believe the major influence was displaying what maybe not to do. I'm not talking about the crashes, but engines nestled inside the wings close to the fuselage, smallish pax capy as originally engineered, cramped cockpit, etc. were not good design alternatives. Concorde, while being majestic, can't rate. It has influenced not much in commercial aviation, and, arguably, has never been a successful (read: profitable) adventure.

Later-generation B-7xx are simply technological improvements over their predicessors as are all Airbus products. I believe it will take something we haven't really thought of yet to bump into the list (dare I say something like the still-birthed Sonic Cruiser?)...Jack

all best; jack
User currently offlineStarAC17 From Canada, joined Aug 2003, 3754 posts, RR: 9
Reply 13, posted (12 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 4220 times:

1) The B707 - The world's first jet that made air travel affordable

2) The B737 - The most popular airliner plane of all times

3) The B747 - Carries 450 pax and can travel over 7000nm need I say more

4) The B767 - The first long range, medium passenger plane

5) The A32X - The first commercial Aircraft to use Fly-by-wire technology

6) The Concorde - The first supersonic passerger plane, too bad it wasn't more of a hit with people. Hopefully a successor comes out in my lifetime

Engineers Rule The World!!!!!
User currently offlineMasseyBrown From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 6147 posts, RR: 7
Reply 14, posted (12 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 4159 times:

We shouldn't overlook the Vickers Viscount, the first really successful and popular turboprop. It was the first to show US fliers and manufacturers that the day of the recips was over.

The best time to plant a tree is today. The second best time is tomorrow.
User currently offlineLutfi From China, joined Sep 2000, 823 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (12 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 4038 times:

In no particular order:

DC3 - Helped win the war as a transport workhorse
Comet - First jet
B707 - First successful jet...
B747 - Shrank the world
DH6/7 - Transport to the edges of the world
Caravan - Single engine, for cheap ops in the back of beyond
DC9 - First successful regional jet transport

User currently offlineTrident From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2000, 484 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (12 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 4007 times:

Boeing 247 - first "modern" airliner

Douglas DC-3 - first airliner capable of making a profit for its operators and, beacuse of large scale production for the miltary, hugely influential in establishing the airline scene post World War 2.

Vickers Viscount - proved that turbine powred airliners were commercially viable.

Boeing 707 - the true harbinger of the jet age.

Caravelle - a major influenece on airliner design.

Boeing 747 - first widebody and introduced true "mass transit" in air travel.

I've not included Concorde, the Comet or the 737 because they have not been INFLUENCIAL.

Airbus A320 - first "fly by wire" technology airliner - they'll all be like this eventually.

Boeing B-47 - although not an airliner, Boeing's B-47 bomber was the prototype of the layout that has become the norm for virtually all airliner wing and engine configurations (the flirtation with T tails and rear engines has largely been relegated to history now - with some exceptions).

User currently offlineERJ135 From Aruba, joined Nov 2000, 727 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (12 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 3937 times:

Three obvious airliners
1 the DC-3 bringing air travel to the masses,
2 the Comet, introducing jet speed to air travel,
3 the 747 for traveling en mass,
and three personal ones
the DC-10, filling the huge gap between the 707/DC-8 and the 747
the A320 introducing a new level of technology
the ERJ/CRJ, small jets do have a market and can make money

Also to mention the 737-800, the 737 originally the little brother to the 727 has grown up and now carries as many passengers just as far using half the fuel the 727 once used.

I remember when the DC-3 was new!
User currently offlineRayChuang From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 8361 posts, RR: 4
Reply 18, posted (12 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 3843 times:

If I were to name the most influential airliners of all time, it would be way more than just six planes!  Smile

I would include the following:

1. Douglas DC-3. Besides being the first airliner that could fly passengers profitably without a mail delivery contract subsidy, the DC-3 embodied all that was learned from the DC-1/2 with its monocoupe structural design and its shape determined by modern wind-tunnel testing. Its very strong structure made it possible to convert it to the famous C-47 Skytrain transport used during World War II.

2. Lockheed Constellation. One of the first airliners that could fly from Los Angeles to New York non-stop, the Constellation benefited from having a pressured cabin and also the beautiful aerodynamic design of Clarance "Kelly" Johnson, perhaps the greatest airplane designer of all time.  Smile

3. de Havilland Comet. Despite the unfortunate metal fatigue problem that ground the Comet I fleet the plane proved that jet-powered airliners was a good idea.

4. Boeing 707. This airliner made it possible for more economical travel at jet speeds. This plane spelled the death knell for transatlantic travel by ship.

5. Boeing 727. This airliner pioneered flying shorter routes on a jet airliner. A lot more airports saw jet airliners with the introduction of the 727. What the 727 pioneered was taked further by the Boeing 737, the Douglas DC-9/MD-80 series, and eventually the Airbus A320 Family series.

6. Boeing 747. This airliner made it possible for a massive increase in international travel at lower prices.

7. Airbus A300B. This airliner not only pointed the way for successful European collaboration on airliner production, but also made it possible to dramatically increase pax/cargo capacity on short- to medium-haul routes. The A300B design has evolved all the way to today's A340-500/600 designs.

8. Boeing 767. This airliner not only replaced older 707's and DC-8's, but also pioneered twin-engined airliner flights on transocean flights.

9. Airbus A320 Family series. Airbus' most successful product, it pioneered true fly-by-wire controls, proved smaller planes can fly longer routes, and is the reason why Airbus can successfully challenge Boeing nowadays.

10. Boeing 777. One of the first airliners designed with considerable customer input, the 777 sports FBW and proved twin-engined airliners can fly very long routes. What Boeing learned from the 777 will be applied the upcoming 7E7 project.

User currently offlineBeltwaybandit From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 495 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (12 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 3807 times:

Sorry, but I do not think we can call the Concorde influential.

It came and went, but had little if any lingering effect on air travel. It was not an economic success, and it did not create enough economic momentum to lead the way for more supersonic aircraft (or even near-supersonic).

I think it is one of the top 10 most beautiful and impressive commercial aircraft in the world; just not influential.

User currently offlineMav75 From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 228 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (12 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 3769 times:

"Unfortunately, I think time is catching up with the 747 and my predication is that production will come to a halt within 5-8 years."

Richierich, are you sure about that? I agree it's true that market demand is shifting towards the widebodied twins (ie 767/777 and maybe the 7E7), but as long as there is transpacific travel, I think demand for the 747 will always be around. Not to mention travel between Europe and Asia. Why else would the 744-ER have been produced? Also, there is a need for very high capacity seating on domestic Japanese flights (744D). I would hate to see production on this plane come to a halt as quickly as your prediction.

User currently offlineRayChuang From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 8361 posts, RR: 4
Reply 21, posted (12 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 3767 times:


I think Concorde influenced one thing: the fact that you can have successful multinational co-operation of airliner assembly. It paved the way for Airbus Industrie and Boeing's collaboration with Japanese aerospace firms.

User currently offlineRichierich From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 4539 posts, RR: 6
Reply 22, posted (12 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 3695 times:

Hey Mav75,

No, I am certainly NOT sure that Boeing will end 747 production anytime soon. But it is just a hunch. I am hopeful that Boeing has a plan in the works to combat the A380 but I am not sure if it will be anything more than a "super" 747. That's great but I doubt that can be truly successful for long. That's why I am throwing out the 5-8 years as a guess. If I am wrong and 747 production continues for another 10-15 years, I will not be disappointed! It just looks to me like Boeing is hedging its bets on the 7E7 Dreamliner... with larger and more efficient versions of the 777, I think the overall appeal of the 747 is dwindling.

On a different topic though, I think that Concorde definitely deserves to be considered one of the most influential aircraft of all time. Even though it is now 30 years old, it is still a technological marvel. It did not sell in the numbers that were envisioned by the British and French when they worked together on this program, but a lot of that was due to political and unforseen economical issues (ie, oil shortages/ embargoes). With that said, Air France and British Airways managed to take this beautiful plane and re-brand it so that both made money on it in the 80s and 90s, although the initial purchase was government subsidized. Obviously to be a commercial success, a lot more than 20 total airframes would have had to have been produced!

The Concorde crash in France in 2000 will always put a black-eye on an otherwise excellent safety record. It is ashame that a piece of runway debris and a burst tire caused such a horrific crash.

Concorde is on my list of most influential planes because it was the first and (only?) airliner to operate supersonically. In essence, the Concorde and the 747 both made my list for opposite reasons. Both are technological marvels, in my opinion, and both producers "bet the farm" on their respective aircraft. But for France and Britain, Concorde's commercial failure almost spelled the end of aircraft production in those countries, although ironically it also laid the groundwork for forging the Airbus alliance that would follow. For Boeing, the 747 helped solidify their position as the world's number one aircraft maker, which has only recently come under challenge.

Who knows... if history had been different in the 1970s and had been kinder to Concorde (and presumably less kind to the 747), maybe there would be lots of supersonic transports in the air today. Perhaps flying would not have been made available to the "average Joe", as the 747 helped do.

All I can say is that Concorde really represented the pinnacle of how far man has come in his travels and we may not see another supersonic transport like her again in our lifetimes. Economics rule and for a design to be truly successful (and sell!), it also has to make money. The 747 proved that.

None shall pass!!!!
User currently offlineAM744 From Mexico, joined Jun 2001, 1863 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (12 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 3641 times:

but as long as there is transpacific travel, I think demand for the 747 will always be around. Not to mention travel between Europe and Asia

These markests will be taken over by the 777-300 and A380, where demand justifies it. Unfortunately, the 747 days are counted.

User currently offlinePetertenthije From Netherlands, joined Jul 2001, 3560 posts, RR: 10
Reply 24, posted (12 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 3589 times:

Fokker F.7, at its time it was as important as the 737 now. That should say enough.
DC-3, for making it civil aviation economically feasible (with a little help of surplus WW2 stocks)
DH Comet, first civil jet
B737, for making short flights available to the masses
B747, for making long flights available to the masses
A300, for starting the Airbus saga

25 Beltwaybandit : Mav: Look up the word "influential." No doubt the Concorde was the pinnacle of commercial air travel technology, as well as being beautiful, unique, e
26 Richierich : Well, I still believe Concorde has been extremely influential, despite the fact there are not supersonic airliners at every local major airport. Who k
27 Post contains images TransSwede : Concorder influential? Hardly! Airline trafic before and after has not changed much. Don't let your personal feelings for the aircraft get in the way
28 Beltwaybandit : TransSwede: You and I are getting too bogged down by the dictionary definition of "influential" (having the ability to affect or change things).
29 Post contains images Richierich : Well, I think Concorde influenced a lot of things! For one, it influenced the fact that we are all flying subsonically these days!
30 Post contains links and images RayPettit : View Large View MediumPhoto © W.C. Wall Sr. Douglas DC-3 transformed air travel in many respects in several eras. For example, it was used in Eur
31 Post contains images Roadrunner165 : DC-3 DH Comet Boeing727 Boeing737 Boeing747 Airbus A380 (When its Built) Adam AS ROCKS!!!
32 AA777MIA : DC3, B707, B727, B747, DC10, Concorde..
33 Tango-Bravo : 1) DC-3 - the first modern airliner that made it possible for the airlines to earn a profit flying passengers. 2) DC-4 - led to a family of superb pro
34 TxAgKuwait : Ford Trimotor - the all-metal Tin Goose was the death knell for fabric covered airliners, especially after Knute Rockne's death in the crash of a fabr
35 Post contains links and images L-188 : My list is pretty close to TxAgKuwait's Fokker Trimotor.....A series of a series of fatal crashes, including the one that killed Knute Rockne. Spurred
36 JMChladek : Well, lets see how my list stacks up. I'm sticking mainly to more modern airliners as we know them today rather going that far back as Tri-motors are
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