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How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Wed Jul 12, 2000 8:01 pm

I would like to know what everyone thinks what would have happened if Lockheed had introduced the L1011 at the same time or before the DC-10. Would it have been more sucessful? Would Lockheed still be producing passenger planes? Would they have come out with more varients of it? Comments are greatly appreciated.
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Wed Jul 12, 2000 8:30 pm

REad the book "Destination Disaster". It gives a good history of the L1011. Actually, The L1011 prototype was already on the production line when Douglas decided to "design" the DC10. So while Douglas started after Lockheed, the DC10 flew before the L1011. IMHO - the DC-10 and MD-11 both look like a rush job. The tail mounted engine looks like an afterthought, and the design cannot approach the elegance of the L1011.
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Wed Jul 12, 2000 9:01 pm

I think the Tristar might have sold more if it flew earlier, but the Lockheed had two drawbacks;
1- They came out too late with a long-range version, so airlines which wanted a plane which could fly both medium and long distance (most European airlines like KLM, Alitalia, UTA but Northwest too) chose the DC-10 for fleet commonality.
2- Because Lockheed didn't have a commercial jetfamily (the Electra was absolete by 1970) airlines who preferred 'one shop shopping' turned to Douglas or Boeing for their fleets and forgot about the oddball Tristar.
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Wed Jul 12, 2000 10:28 pm

One of the fatal blows for the TriStar's success definitely was Lockheed's insistence to concentrate on just one enigne type (the RB211) instead of offering more options.
While the RB211 was arguably the most advanced engine of its time, its development phase jeopardized Lockheed's and RR's plans.
Although the RB211 matured into a remarkably efficient and powerful engine in later years, its development proved to be too costly for RR, almost running Rolls into bankruptcy and delaying the L1011's development for vital months.
Furthermore, the first versions had serious reliability problems and performance shortfalls.

If Lockheed would have also offered the JT9D and/ or CF6 at the time of the TriStar's design and could therefore have introduced long-range versions earlier, I firmly believe the L1011 would have outsold the DC-10 by a large margin.
Sadly for the TriStar, trying to be at the technical cutting edge sometimes just does not pay off. :-(

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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Wed Jul 12, 2000 11:22 pm

I agree with TriStar500, having no choice on engine selection on the Tristar was a huge drawback. Many of the design flaws one can see in the DC10 are not present in the L1011, therefore I belive the Tristar is a far superior aircraft than the DC10 ever was...

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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Thu Jul 13, 2000 12:29 am

Lets not forget that the -1011s airframe was designed around the engine. Lockheed (ignorantly) stilted the other engine manufacturers for fiscal reasons. Rolls Royce promised an engine they weren't ready to deliver--thus Lockheed promised an aircraft they weren't ready to deliver.

Fact: Lockheed designed the nacelles, wing tank locations, flap retracters, ailerons, vertical stabilizers, etc. around the RB211's specs. JT9Ds or CF6s would have detrimental effects on the avionic performance of the airframe itself, not to mention a wildly radical variance in the peak thrust:weight ratio. RB211s's bypass structure has a rather abstract relation to its peak performance. The engineers struck gold when their test numbers were put on paper. There was a Newtonic "eureka!" reaction to exactly how efficient this design really was.

Fact: Lockheed's selection of unifying the airframe around the 211, and selection of a single provider wasn't the reason the sales never reached 300. The selection of Rolls Royce was. Not that it was a poor choice for a manufacturer. Of the potential airlines, most were operating an all Pratt fleet. When Delta ordered their mass of 757s early on in the programme, did they select the -211, no, though they were still expanding their 1011 fleet at the time of their first 757 order, they chose the 2043s.
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Thu Jul 13, 2000 12:31 pm

In my opinion, if Lockheed had designed the L1011 so it could accommodate the Pratt & Whitney JT9D and the General Electric CF6, they probably would have sold so far, far more L1011's. And I would even hazard a guess that Lockheed would still be in the commercial airplane business even today with stretched fuselage twin-engine versions powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700, P&W PW4168 and GE CF6-80 engines.

The L1011 was a very well-liked plane, but its sales prospects were killed by the delays of Rolls-Royce getting improved versions of the RB.211 engine out the door. The DC-10 design lasted longer (despite the 1974 THY accident near Paris and the AA accident in 1979) because the DC-10 had better growth potential for long-range operations. Remember, before the MD-11 arrived on the scene UA actually modified a few DC-10-30's with extra fuel capacity so it could fly SEA-HKG non-stop, its first trans-Pacific route.
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Thu Jul 13, 2000 12:46 pm

Judging by the opinions I have read on this board in the last year or so, I would have to guess that the number of people that prefer the Tristar over the DC-10/MD-11 must be somewhere around 10 to 1.

Also, I noticed that in posts asking for opinions of the L1011, only about 1 in 15 don't like the plane.

I must also agree that the exclusive use of the RB-211 and the early lack of a long range version of the 1011 are what killed sales and Lockheed's commercial plane building. Too bad. The Tristar was always my favorite plane to fly on. Always will be.

RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Fri Jul 14, 2000 1:23 am

I don't really know because I'm not very familiar with the Tristar. But the Dc-10 does not have a very good safety record.

Remember the AA Crash in chicago???  

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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Fri Jul 14, 2000 1:38 am

I love how people always mention the Chicago incident as proof that the DC10 is unsafe. The Chicago incident happened because of an unsafe maintenance shortcut that AA (and CO and UA as well) used that degraded engine pylon integrity. It just so happened that the plane was a DC10.

This is not to say that the L1011 wasn't a much more advanced jet, because it was. Please remember people, that when you have an internal engine, you have much much better aerodynamics than a tail mounted engine, but you have to shape the plane around that engine. (727s don't have multiple engine choices either.)
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Fri Jul 14, 2000 3:42 am

You know, neither the L-1011 nor the DC-10 sold well, if you are to compare it to other aircraft series. Look at the 747, for example, and the continuing production run that it has. Or other widebodied Airbus' and Boeings, for that matter.

I suspect that the three-holers were introduced at an awkward stage in terms of airliner development. Namely, airlines were looking for the economy-of-scale that high-bypass engines and a high passenger capacity provided. Unfortunately, the industry wasn't quite able to come to terms with a smaller-than-a-747 widebody twin.

Once the twins started showing up (A-300, 767, 757, even the 737-300), the whole economic paradigm shifted.

If the L-1011 had rolled off the production line before the DC-10, on the other hand, I suspect that their sales would have rivaled or exceeded the 10. And, with more cash flowing in, I'm sure that Lockheed would have more versions, including some long-range killers.

I've always been partial to the 1011, by the way. She was my first love.

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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Fri Jul 14, 2000 7:26 am

I only want to add that the L1011, till now, never had a fatal accident due to a technical failure.Truly a great airplane.
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Rolls-Royce Saved Airbus

Fri Jul 14, 2000 9:50 am


About the RB.211: Rolls-Royce was working on the RB.207 for the A300B until it secured a sol supplier deal with Lockheed for the L-1011 TriStar.
RR had in fact promized a very new engine using top technology for Airbus. The RB.211 was also to offer a lot of evolution (it indeed did, but not as much as expected).
That's because of this delay that the RB.211 became a disaster. The delay would have been even worse for Airbus considering the higher technology RR had proposed for the RB.207: so RR kinda killed the TriStar which has a great part (not only though) of its troubles coming from there (the miss of the meeting with American Airlines in 1970 being the first step). And they saved Airbus!

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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Fri Jul 14, 2000 10:11 am

DC-10 safety record - Paris France. Read Destination Disaster. If you don't feel that the L1011 is a superior aircraft after reading that book, then your daddy must have worked for McDonnell Douglas.
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Fri Jul 14, 2000 10:55 am

Actually, what really saved Rolls-Royce's bacon in the aero engine business was the fact they were able to qualify the RB.211 for the Boeing 747-200/300/400 series, which kept the line going a lot longer than it should have.

And Rolls-Royce did get into smaller jet engines with their participation in the International Aero Engines V2500 program, the Tay engine, and their partnership with BMW that produced the BRJ710 and BRJ715 engines.

Currently, Rolls-Royce has high-bypass jet engines on almost every plane except the Boeing 767. They may even eventually become the second engine source for the Boeing 777 Long-Range model with growth versions of the Trent 800 engine, too.
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Fri Jul 14, 2000 11:16 am

It is true that the L1011 was on paper before the DC10 was conceived. In fact, when McDD committed to the DC10 as a rival to the L1011, their corporate motto (unofficially) was "fly before they roll", meaning they wanted to actually FLY the DC10 before Lockheed's TriStar rollout (usually about three months before the first flight). They acheived it too, and the speed with which the DC10 was designed actually helped it in some ways technically, because the result is a very direct, simple machine that is not 'overengineered'. Whereas, the L1011 is a much more sophisticated beast, but with systems that are dreadfully overcomplicated - overengineered is the word that always comes up when I chat to L1011 flight and maintenence crew. It is a much less popular freighter because in it's old age, the type can't give the same dispatch reliability as the DC10. So, while the L1011 is rightly acknowledged widely as the "safest widebody ever built" (Flight International magazine), it's commercial prospects could actually have been improved by leaving the drawing board a little sooner.

On the DC10 at Chicago, yes it was the fault of the incorrect maintenence procedures at AA and CO that the engine left the wing, but the plane crashed because the hydraulics failed on one side, causing the slats to completely retract on one side. AND the stall warning devices failed, which meant that when the captain reduced to the best engine-out climb speed, one wing stalled and the aircraft rolled over. I don't know where the routing of the hydraulics is on the L1011 wing so it's hard to say for sure, but if an RR came off the wing of an L1011 with the same kind of damage done to the leading edge, the slats wouldn't have retracted, and if they had, the flight crew would have got a stall warning. If the L1011 is overengineered, it's because there's tonnes of redunduncy built in to it.
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Fri Jul 14, 2000 11:31 am

guess i'd rather have an overengineered plane than one who's cargo doors blow out over a forest in France...or over Windsor Ontario.
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...Ray

Fri Jul 14, 2000 11:57 am

Ray, the RB211 is indeed offered on the 767, British Airways, for example, has a fleet of them.

Also, remember, they bought Allison Engines, and they now make engines for a very wide array of aircraft. From business & regional jets, all the way to 777s & 747s.

There wont be any Trents hanging on the wings of the 777X least not any time soon.

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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Fri Jul 14, 2000 12:02 pm

I think that it could have made a small differance, but it wouldn't have been alot.
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Fri Jul 14, 2000 12:09 pm

DC-10 fact: American's ORD incident aside (bad accident, and due respect given), think about two other DC-10 incidents, mainly the THY Turkish cargo door decompression accident near Paris, and alng the same lines, AA had a cargo door decompression on a DC-10 over southern Canada. Luckily, or skillfully on the pilot's part, that aircraft made it down to DTW safely.

Point is, the DC-10 has been racked with numerous mechanical abnormalities, and numerous incidents, while the L-1011 has had only 2 fatal accidents that i can remember (EA near Miami, and Saudia in Jeddah/Riyadh), and both of those were pilot error.

Tom in NO (at MSY)
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Fri Jul 14, 2000 12:40 pm

I'm partial against the L1011 due to a rear wing spar failure I witnessed in the mid 1980's. I've heard their have been others. Plus with the C5 wing problems, Lockheed in my opinion has a real problem designing and constructing a proper wing.
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Sat Jul 15, 2000 6:19 pm

Don't forget either about the Sioux City DC-10 crash in 1989. This was caused by the tail engine losing its fan and severing the hydraulic lines. This in turn caused the plane to lose ALL its hydraulic fluid and become almost (but not quite) uncontrollable. The single biggest factor in most seriuos DC-10 accidents has been the vulnerability of the hydraulic systems to total failure.

RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Sun Jul 16, 2000 7:50 am

The reason for the crash at sioux city was a scratch as big as a sand cron inside the engine,(construction failure i think)overseen for the whole time till to the crash.
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Sun Jul 16, 2000 5:07 pm

Yes, I agree that for all of the reasons given the TriStar was a weak seller. It is, however, a really fine airliner with outstanding performance and reliability and gives a smooth, comfortable flight. BWIA still has its 4 -500s 20 years after introduction - it must be one of the last original TriStar owners still using their aircraft (along with Delta). It will be sad to see them go.

Of all the reasons, though, it is the design of more powerful engines in the Seventies and Eighties which made widebodied twins commercially feasible that killed off the prospects of the TriStar and indeed all trijets. As such the MD-11, despite its greatly updated technology, is actually an anachronism; the 3 engines it carries are certainly liabilities when compared to the 2 on 777 with similar capacity, or even A340 which despite having 4 engines more than compensates for this by a much greater range. It is indeed sad but the TriStar was a concept that had its time, albeit a very limited one.

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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Sun Jul 16, 2000 10:45 pm

The L1011 was Lockheed's last commercial venture. I don't know if that was mentioned.
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RE: How Sucessful Would The L1011 Have Been...

Mon Jul 17, 2000 12:33 am

L10's are not maintenance friendly. Reliabilty is on subpar like typical lockheed products. Ever service oil on #2? You always pour it on your head. The ones I always worked on had a ton of DMI's. Putting engines in or near the tail never was a good idea. Noisy,alot of vibration etc.. Please just let the thing die off. Bring on the fly-by-wire generation.

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