ImperialEagle From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 1757 posts, RR: 19 Reply 1, posted (1 year 2 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 3474 times:
Inaugural took place between New York/Idlewild and SFO June 1st 1954. The -7's were used on all the major trans-con routes, major markets such as Chicago-New York, Chicago-LA and to Hawaii. The first batch was delivered in a one-class (first) configuration and the second batch in 1957 was all-coach. It was easy to identify the ones in all first class because the two front windows were not there. The luggage was put there for in-flight access (and so more cargo could go below).
Like most of the majors carriers the -7's were dumped from the fleet as soon as possible and UA dumped theirs in '64. I hated to see them go,(and so did ESSO who provided their oil by tanker-truck) however, when compared to the reliability level of the -6B's they couldn't even come close.
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough!"
Highflier92660 From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 632 posts, RR: 0 Reply 6, posted (1 year 2 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 2780 times:
Nineteen fifty-nine must have been an anxious year for United Airlines, with the first Douglas DC-8-10s being delivered in late May but not entering service until September 18, 1959. While American Airlines had begun transcontinental Boeing 707 flights between LAX and JFK (Idlewild) in January of that year, United's passenger were still down at 21,000 ft. being drum-beaten to death by the throb of the DC-7s Wright 3350s.
Because of the engines. The P & W R-2800 used on the DC-6 (and Convair, Martin, C-46) was/is considered to be the most reliable large radial engine ever produced. The CW R-3350 turbo-compond engine used on the DC-7/ later Connies had many issues, mostly related to the effort to squeeze every last ounce of horsepower, via the Power Recovery Turbines, which used hot exhaust gases driving a fluid coupling directly back to the crankshaft for another 4-600 horsepower. The DC-7 engine shutdown/failure rate was 1 per 1,000 fleet hours.
In addition to the reliability/maintenance issue, the DC-7's had a higher seat/mile operating cost than the previous generation DC-6/6B's. The L-1649's had the same problem compared to the L-1049's. That was the price for their range and speed advantages. Once jets took over the long-range routes, the DC-7 had no useful role to fill as a passenger aircraft.
So does that mean if you put one DC-7 through 250 hours on the Tachometer, you could expect any one of the four engines to fail/be shut down at least once?
I got the figure from a 1960 Pan Am company memo I saw years ago. By contrast the 707 rate was one every 11,000 fleet hours. And that was at the beginning of the jet age.
Let's see, Pan Am operated around 30 DC-7B/Cs in that time period. That works out to a shutdown failure every 333 hours, so 250 is in the same range, more or less. I know all the old timers I flew with in the late 70s with DC-7 experience still talked about it. The joke was a DC-6 had four engines and three bladed props and the DC-7 had three engines and four bladed props! I know of two Northwest DC-7Cs that ditched in the open ocean because of engine fires/runaway propeller and another NWA DC-7C that crashed at sea with no survivors. Linked below.
planespotting From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 3493 posts, RR: 5 Reply 13, posted (1 year 2 weeks 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 2294 times:
Quoting maxpower1954 (Reply 11): I know of two Northwest DC-7Cs that ditched in the open ocean because of engine fires/runaway propeller and another NWA DC-7C that crashed at sea with no survivors
Wow - three OPEN-OCEAN DITCHINGS in three years on one aircraft type. Can you imagine the fear in the flying public today if there was at least one northern pacific ditching annually on a 777 or something like that? And I wouldn't blame them - the experience seems positively horrifying.
It's amazing the kind of safety improvements that have been made in aviation over the years. Truly remarkable - and even more remarkable considering that airlines can be so safe despite their pretty dismal financial record. It seems like for the most part, we've engineered out 99.9 percent of the system/mechanical failures that can really make flying dangerous - all that's left is the .01 percent of random catastrophe failure ... and of course, human error.
milesrich From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1904 posts, RR: 7 Reply 14, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2222 times:
Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 3): I don´t think they were ever operated in a mixed class configuration, or am I mistaken?
Quoting MasseyBrown (Reply 10): In addition to the reliability/maintenance issue, the DC-7's had a higher seat/mile operating cost than the previous generation DC-6/6B's. The L-1649's had the same problem compared to the L-1049's. That was the price for their range and speed advantages. Once jets took over the long-range routes, the DC-7 had no useful role to fill as a passenger aircraft.
United never operated any mixed class propeller aircraft.
The DC-7's higher operating costs were related to the engines, But there were only 20 something L-1049's built without turbo compound engines, L-1049C/D/E/G and H all had the same problems. Flying Tigers had a Trans Atlantic Ditching on 9-23-1962 due to engine problems exacerbated when the F/E shut oil off to the wrong engine. Many a Super G Connie landed with only three engines turning. The daughter of friends of my family, Jacqueline Brotman, a flight attendant, died on that flight.
Northwest lost two DC-7C's on military charters, one where everyone was rescued after ditching and one that just disappeared in 1963 resulting in the loss of 101 lives.
The Curtiss Wright R-3350 was an engine always plagued with problems from its introduction on the Boeing B-29 bomber. They became more reliable, but I have read articles about their poor quality control in tolerances etc. The Air Force lost quite a few RC-121's also due to engine problems. Another friend of my family, Tom Fiedler, an Air Force officer, and son of Davenport Bank and Trust VP Carl Fiedler, lost his life one of these aircraft in 1965.
DC-7's were operated on many routes beside Transcons, as United received more deliveries. Three aircraft could certainly operate two LAX-IDL or SFO-IDL round trips daily. United received 57 DC-7's, and many of the latter deliveries were delivered as coach aircraft with windows in front of the props, rather than a luggage area. Also, some of the original deliveries were converted to coach aircraft that UA dubbed the DC-7T. These aircraft had 2-3 seating with fold down tray tables, and initiated a new service on United, Custom Coach. (These aircraft had a T on the fuselage behind the main passenger door. A few aircraft were converted to Cargoliners, dubbed by UA as DC-7A's but they were actually DC-7B freighters. Before jets, they flew the transcons from IDL to LAX and SFO, nonstops to DEN from IDL, and flights from CLE, and DCA to LAX nonstop, MKC to DCA and SFO, and one rather strange route, IDL-YIP-OMA-LAX, as well as flights from DEN and MDW to many east and west coast cities of BOS, BDL, EWR, IDL, DCA, BAL, PHL, CLE, PIT, YIP, MKE, LAX, SFO, PDX, and SEA. With the introduction of the DC-8's and the sale of many Convair 340's and the removal of Convairs from all routes east of SLC, some DC-7's were traded back to Douglas for DC-8's and the remaining DC-7's were used on shorter routes in east and west, serving OAK, RNO, SAC, PDT, GEG, and BOI in the west, and DSM, CID, MLI, TOL, CMH, DAY, PVD and ABE in the east. They were never flown on any Capital N-S routes, or the Capital Michigan ciies, or LGA, and I do not think they ever were flown into SBN, FWA, or YNG and CAK. By late 1962, all DC-7 operations east of ORD were discontinued, and only two flights came into ORD from OMA, DSM, CID, and MLI. By the end of the year, flights east of Denver were discontinued, and they continued to serve SAN, LAX, SFO, OAK, PDX, SEA, GEG, PDT, BOI, SAC, RNO, SLC, and DEN until some time in 1964. They never served GJT. My only United DC-7 flight was from ORD to MLI in the spring of 1961. All DC-7's were retired in 1964, although there was an incident involving a UA DC-7 in early 1966 so they may have been used for charters, but the March 2, 1965 timetable shows no DC-7's, passenger or Cargo, in scheduled service.
type-rated From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 4731 posts, RR: 20 Reply 16, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 2081 times:
In the late 50's and early 60's Northwest didn't have a very good safety record. It looks like the DC-7 contributed to that. Plus the acquisition of jet types and converting pilots from props to jets with swept wing designs.
Fly North Central Airlines..The route of the Northliners!
Quoting timz (Reply 17):
I used to think no airline had ever scheduled a DC-7 into LGA, but turns out UA use one LGA-MDW in 1959-- on the men-only flight I think it was. That's the only exception AFAIK.
(Dunno if LGA still had a 105,000-lb weight limit then.)
I checked the April 1959 timetable, and it says the Executive 500p departures are flown with DC-7's but I wonder if this was correct, because a year later, the flights were operated with a DC-6B. It was replaced in 1961 with a Caravelle operating from ORD to IDL, and then both a EWR and IDL flight was operated, but the IDL being discontinued and the EWR flight continuing to operate until 1970.
Quoting swabrian (Reply 15): Don't know if it is true or not, but I had a longtime Delta mechanic tell me that Delta had disconnected the Power Recovery Turbine, and they didn't have the issues other carriers did.
I always wondered whether this could be done to save engine wear and tear. On shorter flights, the difference in time was negligible. If so, it would have made sense to sell off the DC-6B's which in 1960-61 still had great resale value, and keep the DC-7's for the duration until the shorter range jets came on line. United grounded their DC-7's in basically two intervals. In the first, they took delivery of 20 Caravelles, that provided premium first class service on routes east of Omaha, and in the last, the retirement of the last DC-7's came about as the Boeing 727-22 took over frequencies, with some DC-7 services replaced by DC-6B's as the 727 deliveries occurred. In 1960, the DC-7 already was worthless, a $2 Million new aircraft selling for about 10% of that figure, when American dumped 25 of them. By 1965, when Eastern was dumping their 40 something remaining hulls, the sale price was just a little over $100,000.00. I remember when the Chicago White Sox bought one from Eastern and there was a big article about the purchase in the Chicago Sun Times.
The White Sox used the aircraft on for flights to cities as far west as Kansas City, and to the East Coast, i.e, DET, CLE, NYC, BOS, DCA, BAL, MSP, with flights to LAX flown on chartered UA jets.
maxpower1954 From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 994 posts, RR: 6 Reply 19, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 1913 times:
The Power Recovery Turbine (actually there are three of them) was an intergral part of the 3350 engine as used on the DC-7 and Constellations and cannot be "disconnected". The earlier 3350 models as used on the B-29 didn't have the PRT.
More than you will ever want to know about the R-3350 linked below. Actually I think it's fascinating.
doulasc From United States of America, joined Dec 2011, 442 posts, RR: 0 Reply 20, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 1845 times:
I always wondered why the DC-6s and Lockheed 749A Constellations soldiered on longer than the DC-7 and L1049s and L1649As. It was all about engine reliability. When did Delta retire their DC-6s and DC-7s? I think United retired thei lasd DC-6 in 1970?
timz From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 6646 posts, RR: 7 Reply 21, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 1777 times:
In the January and October 1959 timetables a UA DC-7 leaves LGA at 0800 to MDW, leaves MDW at 1200 to LGA, then the men-only flight is a DC-7 both ways, leaving LGA and MDW at 1700.
I'm guessing there was never any rule prohibiting B377/DC-7/L1049Gs at LGA-- just the weight limit. A DC-7 nonstop to LAX would be too heavy, but apparently a nonstop to MDW would work, in 1959 anyway.
milesrich From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1904 posts, RR: 7 Reply 22, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 1756 times:
Quoting doulasc (Reply 20): I always wondered why the DC-6s and Lockheed 749A Constellations soldiered on longer than the DC-7 and L1049s and L1649As. It was all about engine reliability. When did Delta retire their DC-6s and DC-7s? I think United retired thei lasd DC-6 in 1970?
Delta retired their DC-6's, DC-7's and DC-7B's in 1968. United retired the vast majority of their DC-6's and DC-6B's in 1968
but kept three DC-6B's to service Ely and Elko Nevada. The last operations of the DC-6B's on the SLC to SFO route via these two cities took place on February 28, 1970.
In the USA, TWA retired their L-749's in 1967 and PN/WA retired theirs at the end of 1968.
Eastern, and many non US operators kept their L-1049's, and parked their L-749's, and even in 1961, when Eastern parked theirs, there was not much of a market for the used L-749's. TWA and Eastern also operated non turbo compound L-1049's. Eastern kept theirs and used 12 of the 14 that were not destroyed in accidents on the Shuttle, along with some of their L-1049G's, although they always listed the aircraft operated in the OAG as L-1049C's until retiring them in 1967 and 1968. TWA had ten of these aircraft, two of which were destroyed in the two infamous mid-air collisions with United over the Grand Canyon in 1956 and over Staten Island in 1960, but retired the remaining 8 aircraft three weeks after the NYC collision. These aircraft were retired before TWA grounded their L-049's some 13 months later.
One reason TWA might have done this was the relatively small fleet and they did not have weather radar, and would have to have been modified, but TWA did modify their L-749's and L-749A's.
sparky35805 From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 262 posts, RR: 0 Reply 23, posted (1 year 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 1727 times:
Eastern kept the 1049s for the shuttle.Had the shuttle,which was started in 1961,not been successful,the 1049s would have been retired except for the 1049C freighters.The newer DC-7Bs were not well suited for LGA operations.A DC-7,with its higher landing speed,was payload restricted on landing.The Super Connie was not .Even a DC-6B had some restrictions on landing on a 5000 ft runway.
milesrich From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1904 posts, RR: 7 Reply 24, posted (1 year 2 weeks ago) and read 1524 times:
Quoting sparky35805 (Reply 23): Eastern kept the 1049s for the shuttle.Had the shuttle,which was started in 1961,not been successful,the 1049s would have been retired except for the 1049C freighters.The newer DC-7Bs were not well suited for LGA operations.A DC-7,with its higher landing speed,was payload restricted on landing.The Super Connie was not .Even a DC-6B had some restrictions on landing on a 5000 ft runway.
Very interesting info on the problems with DC-7 operations at LGA, but the EA's L-1049G's were newer than some of the DC-7B's, as all the Super G's were delivered in October and November of 1956.