Elwood64151 From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 2477 posts, RR: 5
Reply 6, posted (11 years 5 months 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 9586 times:
$3 million bux for one L1011?? Interesting......
From the way you wrote that, it looks like you were thinking that was the price of the L.1011. That was in fact the loss per L.1011. The price at introduction was closer to $25 million.
Lockheed had a successful turboprop business going when jets first came online. They figured the lower per-unit operating costs of the L-188s would lure airlines to the Electras. Unfortunately, they guessed wrong, excepting Shuttle, which used L-188s for many years, as well as a few other operators of the type who needed a stop-gap aircraft to replace some aging props until smaller jets (like th 727, 737 and DC-9) came online.
Lockheed bowed out of the jet market until PanAm went looking for an ultra-large passenger aircraft, eventually choosing the Boeing 747. Not wanting Boeing to have a monopoly in this market, Pan Am and other airlines including TWA, American and United approached Douglas and Lockheed about building competitor aircraft.
Douglas's initial design put the 747 to shame (in fact, it looked a lot like today's A380!). Due to the production problems at Long Beach and the resulting merger with McDonnel, the design was paired back to the DC-10 we all know and love.
Lockheed developed the L.1011 in much the same way that MDD did: A less expensive, slightly smaller, but capable aircraft with capacity roughly 50% greater than anything else available at the time. Three engines would hopefully make it less expensive to maintain, and the simpler, smaller design was hoped to entice airlines to choose it as a more flexible option over the 747.
Unfortunately for Lockheed, the L.1011 suffered from the same problems that Douglas would suffer from not having a middle-range aircraft after stopping DC-8 production. Since there were no small- or mid-sized Lockheeds to buy, a lot of airlines chose to operate Boeing or MDD aircraft, since they could develop stronger relationships with those companies.
"We're quite happy with these 707s, 727s and 737s we've been flying, and now we're looking at widebodies to augment our regional route system and become a national carrier. We'd like to look at the 747. What kind of deal can you give us?"
The same kind of things go on today.
It's interesting how a decision made in the 1950s (selling the L-188 over a jet aircraft) could affect Lockheed's ability to sell widebodies in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
VirginFlyer From New Zealand, joined Sep 2000, 4579 posts, RR: 37
Reply 7, posted (11 years 5 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 9482 times:
According to this website, Lockheed lost a total of $2.5 Billion (!) on the L1011 programme, or $10 Million on every airframe produced.
Early development problems, relating to the RB211 engine, all but killed Rolls Royce - they went bankrupt on the 4th of February 1971, and was nationalised by the British government later that month. Lockheed almost had the same fate - they were saved by $250 Million emergency loan guarantee from the Federal Government.
There is no doubt that, technically, the Tristar is a brilliant aircraft. Sadly the programme fell victim to circumstances, including the reliance of RR, an overburdened manufacturer and the high inflation of the time.
"So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth." - Bahá'u'lláh
Cloudy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (11 years 5 months ago) and read 9298 times:
To sum it up, Lockheed made two main mistakes in the commercial airline market....
1. As mentioned above, airlines like commonality and that gives a big advantage to manufactures with a full product line. You can't really go half-assed into the airliner business like Lockheed tried to do with the Electra and later the L1011. You either go all in, or all out, or you will be kicked out. Notice that Airbus did not start succeeding in a big way until they had the A320 series to join the A300 and A310.
2. They guessed wrong about the desirability of turboprops versus jets. If turboprops turned out to be better than pure jets for most applications, Lockheed probably would have had a full product line by the time the L1011 came out. As things really happened, the advantage of pure jets on high altitude and long range routes ensured their dominance. It also didn't hurt that pure jets are mechanically simpler than turboprops, and were even more so at the time of the Electra.