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The First Jet That Never Took Off!

Sun Feb 22, 2004 4:56 pm

By accident, I learned that the first pure jet passenger airliner was of Canadian heritage. The Avro C-102 Jetliner. I understand National Airlines and Howard Hughes were very interested in purchasing (former) and manufacturing (latter). However, the Korean war and other factors grounded this bird. Any other information about this one? What other U.S. carriers were interested? What if this plane made it? Its impact on aviation today?  Wow!

[Edited 2004-02-22 09:06:19]
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RE: The First Jet That Never Took Off!

Sun Feb 22, 2004 5:35 pm

If this breaks your heart than do a search regarding the AVRO Canada Arrow fighter or the British TSR 2.

Everyone assumes that Boeing somehow always had a superior product back then and that is why they dominated the market for so long. In reality they had good timing and the determination to go forward. And their civil aircraft were not subject to government approval before going into production.

State sponsored aircraft ventures for state owned airlines resulted in many disappointing developments in aircraft design in the 40s 50s and 60s. In sheer numbers Douglas and Boeing owned the Jet market. But the Bristol, Brabzon, Brittania, Princess Flying Boat, VC-10, BAC-111, Dassault Mercure & Concorde were all fine aircraft but for some reason each of them did sell nearly as well as the Boeings and MD products. The Caravelle and the Trident faired better though.

Europe's large jet airliners were state sponsored market flops rarely selling more that a few hundred units a piece. . . Then came the A300 and the rest is history and unless Boeing gets back to its roots it will be history too.

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RE: The First Jet That Never Took Off!

Sun Feb 22, 2004 8:57 pm

707437 I may be tempted to disagree with you on one point. The BAC-111 was a huge success - much more so than the Trident, for instance and saw sales in the USA to AA. It did not sell as many as the DC-9, to be true but in its own right it was the UK's most successful jet airliner.

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RE: The First Jet That Never Took Off!

Sun Feb 22, 2004 10:02 pm

Actually the C.102 was ready to fly before Comet, but the British refused to transfer the engines over until comet flew.

And yes, Boeing did have a superior product compared to those earlier jet designs.

And BTW, neither the Caravelle nor the Bac-111 needs to be on that list. Both where sold quite successfully in the US.
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RE: The First Jet That Never Took Off!

Sun Feb 22, 2004 10:05 pm

I stand corrected!

But it was sad to see all the missed opportunities that AVRO Canada had due to bad politics and bad timing. It seems like the C-102 was a short range jet with 1200 miles max range so would it have been much faster than a Constellation and over 1200 miles how much block time would it really save? It didn't have transoceanic or even intercontinental range so it would be real limited but then there are always growth versions I suppose.

How many BAC-111s were produced? And how many still fly?

Perhaps its my Bias but I really didn't think that Europe produced an aircraft that would have the economic longevity and sheer numbers of a McD or Boeing product until the A300 came along.

Back in those days it took so many more man hours to build an airplane. I wonder how many aircraft a manufacturer would have to produce to make a profit.

I doubt Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier or Embraer could sell less than a few hundred of any one particular aircraft type and still be in business.
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RE: The First Jet That Never Took Off!

Mon Feb 23, 2004 4:50 am

Apx 350 BAC 1-11's were built. Newly delivered ships to the USA included carriers BN, AA, Aloha and Mohawk. The most popular model seems to have been the 500 or streached version. This model was not sold in the USA.
The Caravelle's total was close to 280 but sold only 20 airplanes in the USA, all to United. TWA had 20 ordered but xcled them in either 1960 or '61 when TW had a strike and serious cash flow problems...Thank you Mr. Hughes.
Both of these planes were popular in Europe. The surprise dud was the VC10. I thought that was quite a plane but Douglas and Boeing had a lock on the long range jetliner at that time. Vickers built about 60 and some went straight to the RAF.
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RE: The First Jet That Never Took Off!

Mon Feb 23, 2004 4:56 am

The Avro C-102 Jetliner was built for a Trans-Canada Airlines specification for a 36 seat aircraft that could travel at 425 miles per hour more information can be found at the following website

Also in my opinion I don't think that American aircraft industry would be at where it is today if it wasn't for Avro Canada cause how many workers for Boeing, Lockheed, and McDonnell Douglas came from Avro Canada after it went under.
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RE: The First Jet That Never Took Off!

Mon Feb 23, 2004 5:21 am

According to this website's database, 244 BAC-111 were built and approximately 60 were still flying at the beginning of last year.

I flew VC-10 a couple of times in the early 70s, with Caledonian/BUA, later to become British Caledonian. I was just a kid but the thought now of flying from London to Lusaka (Zambia) on something only a little bigger than a 737-800 doesn't seem fun.

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RE: The First Jet That Never Took Off!

Mon Feb 23, 2004 5:24 am

I am going to assume that by "never took off" you mean that it never became a commercial success--as Fiedman's link and other sources have it, the C.102 did actually take off. First flight was 8-10-49 with R-R Derwent engines--two weeks after the Comet 1 (ff 7-27-49). (The Derwents were apparently considered primitive, with short life and high fuel burn, and Avro was looking for newer engines such as those used on the Comet, which were deHavilland Ghost turbojets.)

Some sources count the Vickers Nene-Viking as the first jet designed as a civil transport--a Vickers Viking with two R-R Nene t/j's. First flew 4-6-48.

Also interesting is the Vickers Tay-Viscount--an early Viscount with two R-R Tay turbojets, ff 1950.

[Edited 2004-02-22 21:40:02]
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RE: The First Jet That Never Took Off!

Mon Feb 23, 2004 9:22 am

The reason the Avro was powered by the Derwent engines is because when the british saw the AVRO design they refused to supply Canada with the original RR's that would have seen the Jetliner fly with two engines rather then four. That change resulted in the loss of the TCA order for the aircraft, and thats when AVRO went to the US and TWA/NATIONAL for orders. It flew the worlds first commercial jet airmail service between Toronot and New York. But with the outbreak of the Korean war production was stopped in favour of ramped up CF-100 production. Although not a success, it did give the world the term "JETLINER"....I do think, though, that had production and development continued the commercial aircraft industry would be vastly different then it is today...the jetliner was years ahead of the 707, and would have resulted in a number of varients, and probably a pretty big family of aircraft.
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RE: The First Jet That Never Took Off!

Mon Feb 23, 2004 9:40 am

From what i know it had a layout similar to the Comet, and came out around the same time. A few airlines in north america looked rather close at it but didnt take. Compared to the props of the same size it had high operating costs, fairly short range, the market wasnt all that ready for it and some of the problems with the early Comet aircraft scared people away from the C102 JetLiner. It did look like it woulda a half decent aircraft if it ever got going...

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