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What Happened To Stol Airliners?  
User currently offlineLemmy From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 258 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 6276 times:

I remember as a kid back in the '80s reading aviation magazines and seeing article after article about STOL airliners. It seems like operating transport-category airplanes out of short strips was a huge deal, and people saw it as the future of commercial aviation.

There were lots of new airplanes, too:

The HS 141:


The McDonnell Douglas Model 188:


And, of course, the Dash 7:

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But despite all of this attention, it seems like the focus on STOL airliners petered out by the 90s. What happened? Did runways get longer? Did the STOL performance of "normal" airliners improve? Was the dream of city-center airports with short strips killed by NIMBYs?


I am a patient boy ...
18 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineSEPilot From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 6875 posts, RR: 46
Reply 1, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 6272 times:

Economics killed them, pure and simple. It is cheaper to build long runways than to add the power and complexity to airliners to enable them to take off and land from short strips. Plus the added weight would cut payload and add considerably to fuel consumption. Yes, it can be done, but it is not and never will be easy (just look at the V-22 for example.) Since airports need considerable area anyway for gates and aircraft parking they never will be any new ones built except in wide open spaces, so the additional space needed for runways will also be available. Besides, STOL airliners are likely to be noisier than conventional ones, which will make it very difficult for them to be accepted in crowded urban areas, which is the only place where they would have any advantage.


The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so doggone ingenious...Dan Keebler
User currently onlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6370 posts, RR: 3
Reply 2, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 6218 times:

Maybe, too, optimizing aerodynamics for low airspeed operations doesn't make for a fuel effecient or an aircraft with otherwise good economics...  twocents 

However, the BAe-146 and Dash 8 both have some STOL-like qualities to them  Wink



Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineSEPilot From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 6875 posts, RR: 46
Reply 3, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 1 day ago) and read 6138 times:



Quoting KELPkid (Reply 2):
However, the BAe-146 and Dash 8 both have some STOL-like qualities to them

And both of those are designed for short flights as well.



The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so doggone ingenious...Dan Keebler
User currently offlineWarreng24 From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 707 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 6092 times:

1) Longer runways became more common place. No need for STOL if you have a long runway.

2) Improved engine technology.

3) Airports which could not extend their runways were closed or replaced with new airports in locations where longer runways could be built.


User currently offlineMHG From Germany, joined Dec 2004, 777 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (5 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 5971 times:

Don´t forget that STOL capability always was (and still is) "purchased" with reduced cruise performance which in return is significantly affecting overall economics !
And f you want to reduce the gap in cruise speed (you can´t eliminate it fully anyways...) your wing/flaps/spoiler design gets expensive in manufacturing and maintenance, too !

Most routes that would require a STOL aircraft simply do not justify aircraft larger than a Dash-8-100 and there are actually very few airfields in the world where the size of a DH8-100 would be needed but cannot be served due to runways being too short for it.

So, manufacturers (realisticly) do not see sufficient demand for producing STOL aircraft larger than 19 seaters (Do228/Twin Otter/etc.) to start.

However, the Dash-7 is the only STOL aircraft with 50 seats that has been build in substantial numbers. It was done at a time when it was expected that city center airport would be build - which we know now has never materialized due to various reasons (mainly due to local communities going agressively against this kind of new build airports then - "who wants to live next door to an airport when you already have a noisy highway at your doorstep ... ???")



I miss the sound of rolls royce darts and speys
User currently offlineDispatchguy From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 1249 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 5844 times:

The ATR is a STOL bird - down in the Caribbean, we could get very good loads off of very short strips. Granted, we didnt need the STOL performance at SJU, but at a lot of the out islands, a STOL bird was the only way to get in!


Nobody screws you better than an airline job!
User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13184 posts, RR: 77
Reply 7, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 5774 times:

They were ideas much in vogue in the early 70's.
Others have already provided explanations to their general demise.

However, many of these ideas were aimed at proposed 'city center' airports.
Sometimes with VSTOL designs-which would have been awful for fuel consumption and noise generated by the banks of small 'lift engines' that these types would have had.

The more practical STOL ideas did lead to two types making it to production.
The HS, later BAe-146 and DH Dash-7.
Hence their 4 engined configs, in the former case needed as only the engine used, for which 4 were needed, could have met the new criteria that emerged since the early 70's, a lot less noise and a lot better fuel consumption.
Noise in particular, from smaller city center fields.

But only one major city center airfield was ever built, the one in London's former docklands to server the financial district.
Which the demise of the docks had allowed space for.
Given that, I think the Dash-7 sold pretty well, the BAe-146 sold superbly well, considering the main drivers behind their design only happened in one place, London.


User currently offlinePagophilus From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 114 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 5724 times:

Well, what's going to happen in Greenland when their Dash-7's get too old? They have plenty of 800-900m runways, it's very hilly/rocky, very little flat land, and impractical/expensive to build longer runways in most places (must blast through a lot of rock).

User currently offlineIrish251 From Ireland, joined Nov 2004, 966 posts, RR: 4
Reply 9, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 5613 times:



Quoting MHG (Reply 5):
However, the Dash-7 is the only STOL aircraft with 50 seats that has been build in substantial numbers.

Even at that, only 113 were buit, which is a small production run for an airliner by any standards and hardly likely to turn a overall profit for the makers.


User currently offlineMHG From Germany, joined Dec 2004, 777 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 5608 times:



Quoting Irish251 (Reply 9):
Even at that, only 113 were buit, which is a small production run for an airliner by any standards and hardly likely to turn a overall profit for the makers.

... which of course lead to a substantial loss (around 235 million CAD) for De Havilland with the Dash-7 program !



I miss the sound of rolls royce darts and speys
User currently offlineMandala499 From Indonesia, joined Aug 2001, 6836 posts, RR: 75
Reply 11, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 5598 times:

Well, apart from the BAe146 and the Dash 7... what else is there?

Those planes were a bit of a nightmare to operate when fuel prices were as high as last year.

Now obstacles & pavement strength aside, the improvements in brake technology and aircraft design improvements are also indirect killers to STOL planes... 25 years ago if I wanted a 120 seater to operate into a 1300m runway my only choice was the BAe146 or I get a 732 and put up with the weight restriction... Nowadays, I can get an A320 to do it, or a 738 with short field package addons... OK, I still get the weight restriction penalty but heck the economics look way better than a 146 or a 732!

Airspace congestion from normal aircraft is also another indirect killer... Now, if the airspace and operating rules change, then STOL planes and VSTOL MIGHT have a chance...

Mandala499



When losing situational awareness, pray Cumulus Granitus isn't nearby !
User currently onlineKELPkid From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 6370 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 5595 times:

How do the Dash 8 and Dash 7 compare to each other in terms of their STOL capabilities? I'm guessing that the Dash 7 is by far more short-field capable, but that the short field abilities of the -8 will suprise many...  Wink


Celebrating the birth of KELPkidJR on August 5, 2009 :-)
User currently offlineAFKL From Netherlands, joined Feb 2008, 219 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 5463 times:

I had been under the impression that the HS 141 was a VTOL design, originally?


ALLARD.



ALLARD. First flight: KLM DC-10, LLW - AMS.
User currently offlineSpeedyGonzales From Norway, joined Sep 2007, 727 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (5 years 4 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 5368 times:



Quoting KELPkid (Reply 12):
How do the Dash 8 and Dash 7 compare to each other in terms of their STOL capabilities? I'm guessing that the Dash 7 is by far more short-field capable, but that the short field abilities of the -8 will suprise many...

Widerøe operates their DH8-100s at several 800m runways. They retired their last Twin Otter after the 600m gravel strip at BJF was replaced by a new airport with a 1000m asphalt runway.



Las Malvinas son Argentinas
User currently offlineDashTrash From United States of America, joined exactly 8 years ago today! , 1522 posts, RR: 2
Reply 15, posted (5 years 3 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 4933 times:



Quoting KELPkid (Reply 12):
How do the Dash 8 and Dash 7 compare to each other in terms of their STOL capabilities? I'm guessing that the Dash 7 is by far more short-field capable, but that the short field abilities of the -8 will suprise many...

You'd have to compare a 7 with a Dash 8-300. The 300 is the 50 seat model, and uses considerable amounts of runway on takeoff when it's heavy. With 50 in the back plus bags, most of my ground rolls were in the 4 to 5000 ft range. Landing rolls were much shorter with flaps 35 and a touch of reverse. A 300 is not a short field airplane at all!

The 200 had the best short field performance out of the 3 models we had. It would also climb at 3000 fpm with a medium sized load. Fun airplane to fly!


User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6420 posts, RR: 54
Reply 16, posted (5 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 4884 times:



Quoting Pagophilus (Reply 8):
Well, what's going to happen in Greenland when their Dash-7's get too old? They have plenty of 800-900m runways, it's very hilly/rocky, very little flat land, and impractical/expensive to build longer runways in most places (must blast through a lot of rock).

What happens is that longer runways are being made, and faster and more efficient planes will replace the Dash-7s.

Greeland is a country half the size of Australia with only some 50,000 inhabitants. Due to climate air traffic wasn't viable until after WWII, and there wasn't economic resouces for it until the 60'es when helicopters were introduced.

Gradually short runways were made at some destinations, and fixed wing traffic could be introduced in the 80'es with the Dash-7. Still with helipads only at some minor destinations.

But gradually Greenland is becoming a more wealthy society with resources to lengthen runways to be able to accommodate faster and more efficient planes. (Well, a considerable part of that money was / is on my tax receipt - we (the Danish tax payers) support every soul in Greenland with roughly US$ 20,000/yr - they got / get the longer runways faster that way).

Quoting Lemmy (Thread starter):
I remember as a kid back in the '80s reading aviation magazines and seeing article after article about STOL airliners. It seems like operating transport-category airplanes out of short strips was a huge deal, and people saw it as the future of commercial aviation.

A lot of STOL planes were built in the 70'es, 80'es and into the 90es. Most of them still fly today. But also a lot of runways have been improved to accommodate faster and more efficient planes, limiting the demand for new STOL planes to virtually zero.

In addition, ops from short runways are most often short range flights, and modern short/medium range airliners such and A319 or B737-700 have really impressive field performance when you accept severe weight restrictions, which means nothing when you carry fuel for a one or two hours flight. Especially when you choose the higher powered engine variants.

For instance put a 27k lbs CFM56-5B7 on an A319 (instead of the more usual 22k lbs -5B5), fuel it for a 500nm flight, and you have a really impressive STOL plane even with a full cabin load. You can also put a 26k lbs engine variant on a 737-700 and get the same effect. It costs extra, but if the alternative is to do business with a far less efficient planes, or not do business at all....



Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs, Preben Norholm
User currently offlinePC12Fan From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2431 posts, RR: 5
Reply 17, posted (5 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 4884 times:



Quoting Lemmy (Thread starter):
What Happened To Stol Airliners?

Some are alive and well.  wink 


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Photo © Daniel Murzello




Just when I think you've said the stupidest thing ever, you keep talkin'!
User currently offlineAccess-Air From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1939 posts, RR: 13
Reply 18, posted (5 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 4807 times:



Quoting Lemmy (Thread starter):
But despite all of this attention, it seems like the focus on STOL airliners petered out by the 90s. What happened? Did runways get longer? Did the STOL performance of "normal" airliners improve? Was the dream of city-center airports
with short strips killed by NIMBYs?

I think it was the fact that most true STOL Airliners were props...and we all know how much passengers love prop planes.....

As stated later in the thread here, STOL Planes were too clunky and therefore deemed UN-Economical to fly.....Didnt Ransome and Henson use their Dash 7s into a stub runway at Washington National Airport so as to not interfere with Jetp Ops?

Also, the Code share stuff has a lot to do with it all as in Commuter Airlines are no longer operating out of their own Commuter Regional Terminals like they were in the 80s....

Face it guys and gals, there are just segments of airline operations and aircraft types that airlines and manufacturers dont care to get involved with. There might be real need for a certain type of aircraft such as a STOL aircraft, but if its not a large money maker, you can forget it...

One exception to this however, is the company that has bought the commercial rights to produce the Twin Otter once again...This is truely a STOL plane and is one that could and should be used.....Sure is Unprssurized and slow, but then it can do pretty much anything and go anywhere....
Why is it that the people in more remote areas that depend on aircraft like the Twin Otter, dont bitch about having to fly on them, but then people in major cities that think they are all that, wouldnt even spit at a Twin Otter type of plane to fly on? What has happened to us?
People seem to forget that a 45 minute flight is still a 45 minute flight whether youre in a Beech 99, a Fokker F.27, a DC9 or a 757...One might "feel" more comfortable or secure on a bigger plane but is it really worth the cost, especially when people want to cheap-out when it comes to flying?

True the ATR has some great short field capabilities, but as I said earlier, it has props....People dont like to see props spinning.......
A true STOL JET would have to be something like a C-17 but would probably be horribly innefficient for any airline to consider even operating one.

Just my two cents...

Access-Air



Remember, Wherever you go, there you are!!!!
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