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Convair 990

Mon Dec 15, 2003 11:05 pm

The Convair 990 was a remarkable airplane. How come many airlines didn't use them and how come those that did retired them after a few years? Was it the 990's low pax capacity that killed it? It's maximum was 121 pax compared to around 180 for the 707 and the DC8. Though the 990 had a cruising speed of around Mach 0.91 which was far superior to both the 707's and the DC8's cruise speed. So what the 990 couldn't do with pax it made up for in speed. I'm wondering if Convair had made it slightly bigger- say a pax capacity equal to the 707 would the 990 have survived and maybe still be in service today like the 707/DC8 are? Only 37 were ever built and it's a shame there are no airworthy examples left.
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RE: Convair 990

Tue Dec 16, 2003 12:06 am

Pax capacity is one factor that made CV990 a commercial disaster, especially the 5 abreast seating was considered not as flexible as the 6-abreast in B707 and DC8 (Boeing had originally designed B707 for 5-abreast, but then widened the fuselage to match Douglas's 6-abreast).

Another factor is the CV990 was a gas guzzler. It consumes more fuel than the similar sized B720 for the same sector. Delay in service due to aerodynamic problems in the wing and engine pod (which made Convair added the sonic pods on CV990 wings) made things worse. It does have a higher cruise speed, but if I'm not mistaken, M0.91 is only achievable at FL250 at full throttle, so the fuel burn is horrendous.

However, I still like CV990 more than DC8 or B707, one thing because it's the first jet airliner that Garuda acquired.

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RE: Convair 990

Tue Dec 16, 2003 12:07 am

Just to address a few points:

In a nutshell, it was hurt by its 5 across cross section, its thirst for fuel, marginal range, and the tremendously loud engines.

That said, I love both of the old Convairs. I'm sure I saw one when I was a lil' tyke, but don't remember......

And about your last sentence? That is untrue, at least at the moment. There was a recent thread about the last one in El Paso being scrapped soon unless it got a buyer very quickly. Any updates anyone?
Ghosts appear and fade away.....................
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RE: Convair 990

Tue Dec 16, 2003 2:50 am

Howard Hughes had a lot to do with the failure of the Convair 880/990 program from the get-go. Indeed, the entire company floundered after the fiasco between him (TWA & Toolco) and Convair. Delaying tactics cost the company precious time in the early stages of the 880/990 development.
Uncle SAN at your service!
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RE: Convair 990

Tue Dec 16, 2003 4:55 am

One of my friends grandfather's flew the 880 and 990 for the FAA when they were doing certification... My friend still has the plaque... It was an interesting and fast design, but it guzzled fuel and couldn't compete with the DC-8 and 707 for economy and money-making capability. Probably part of the reason that the Sonic Cruiser was dropped: Boeing saw another 880/990 coming, so did the airlines, and so the project was cancelled.
Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
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Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2001 11:31 am

RE: Convair 990

Tue Dec 16, 2003 9:42 am

Thanks for the replies. I thought the main reason behind its demise was its limited pax capacity and 5 abreast seating layout. Ok so the 990 was noisy and smokey but so were the early 707's and DC8's. In fact isn't the 707 actually louder than the concorde as measured on takeoff?
Oh BTW i noticed NASA acquired a few 990's, what did they use them for?
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RE: Convair 990

Tue Dec 16, 2003 9:46 am

Heh its speed was amazing, but at a ruinous fuel burn rate and at low altitude (I think about FL210)

It was a nice looking plane too, with speedpods for aerodynamic effect.

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RE: Convair 990

Tue Dec 16, 2003 9:49 am

To Positive Rate...
NASA used an CV-880 in the early days of the Space Shuttle development program. The 880 was modified to carry & deployed the shuttle's landing gear. A cut was made in between the 880's own main gears, and a shuttle landing gear was tested in this area. Having an 880 simulate a shuttle landing probably was a highlight of the whole program. Regards.
"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." --Ben Franklin
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RE: Convair 990

Tue Dec 16, 2003 9:58 am

I agree with the main reasons for the 990's commercial failure was it's relatively small passenger capacity and limited range. The fact that it was introduced a couple years after the 707 and the DC-8 did not help either.

On a personal note, I flew from JFK to MAD on a SPANTAX CV990 in 1978. Although I was only seven years old at the time, I remember having to stop in the Azores on the return trip in order to refuel.
"I love mankind. It's people I can't stand." - Charles Shultz
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Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2003 9:23 pm

RE: Convair 990

Tue Dec 16, 2003 10:29 am

Modernair flew the 990s out of JFK in the 70's, and I barely remember AA 990s climbing out of JFK in the 60's in a welter of smoke and thunder,I was but a wee lad then. I remember DElta,And TWA 880's flying into the early 70's,and I saw an FAA 880 fly into Kennedy in the early 80's,wonderfully and unrepentedly loud and smoky. I love 1st generation jets!
the rumble of round engines is like music to me,likewise the thunder of thr JT8D

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