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SEPilot
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:53 am

Spacepope wrote:
zippyjet wrote:
SEPilot wrote:
The 707 caught Douglas completely flat footed. They had committed to the DC-7 before they knew about the 707, and so had to hurry the DC-8 proposal, and were a year behind getting it to market. Boeing had put a couple of years into development before revealing it, research that Douglas was unable to replicate. The one advantage Douglas had was that, by coming second, they were able to “one-up” Boeing by making theirs 6 abreast (the 707 was originally 5 abreast) which won orders from a couple of major airlines, one of them United. Boeing had been there before, with the 247, and did not want a repeat. There was powerful disincentive to change the fuselage as they were already making KC-135s and couldn’t change them and hence would need two sets of tooling where they had planned on only one. But at a Bill Allen’s insistence they went ahead and made the 707 6 abreast. But on top of that, Boeing had extensive experience with large jets with the B-47 and B-52, and Douglas did not, and Boeing had their own high speed wind tunnel, which Douglas did not. The result was the high altitude high speed performance of the 707 was always better than the DC-8. It is notable that Pan Am, which is one of the few airlines to buy both planes did not keep their DC-8s long but ordered boatloads of 707s.

Talk about flat footed. Lockheed bet the farm on Turbo Props with the L188. Had that one come out 5 years earlier Lockheed may have sowed the seeds to stay in the commercial airliner business. Interesting that AA went with L188's. Not to hijack the thread but why, did National Air Lines go with the DC-8 same with Eastern. Both of them set themselves back a year. Had the 720 come out earlier do you think Eastern and National would have gone with them over the Electra and DC-8? National never went for 720's And I pose this issue because, National leased 707's from Pan Am for the lucrative New York and Chicago to Miami routes.


I think Lockheed’s issue with this generation of jets stems from the tanker project. They actually WON the competition and the 717/KC-135 was only adopted as the interim tanker till the Lockheed model was ready. Lockheed never got their tanker to production and history was written at that point. Not sure how the competition on the civil side would have shaken out though, probably dooming the Convair offerings even sooner and we’d have never gotten the 990.

The Air Force absolutely did not want the Boeing tanker (I don’t know why). When Lockheed won the competition Curtis LeMay threw a hissy fit and said he wanted jet tankers NOW. So they ordered a small number from Boeing, telling them very firmly that this would be IT. But then Lockheed dropped the ball; I am not sure why, and the Air Force had no choice but to order the rest from Boeing.
The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so doggone ingenious...Dan Keebler
 
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TurboJet707
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Wed Dec 26, 2018 6:53 pm

SEPilot wrote:

I think Lockheed’s issue with this generation of jets stems from the tanker project. They actually WON the competition and the 717/KC-135 was only adopted as the interim tanker till the Lockheed model was ready.


With hindsight, this must indeed have been one of the most decisive moments in aviation history. Before the 707, Boeing only had a couple of commercial failures in the civil maket while Douglas was selling thousands of airliners. Boeing was just a minor contender in civil aviation at that moment; Douglas, Lockheed and Convair were the big names in commercial aviation at the time, with their DC4/6, Constellation and CV340 propliners.
While the KC-135 and the 707 were in fact different planes, there were still enough similarities between the two types to allow Boeing to fund much of the 707's development with tax payer's money. Without the large KC-135 order from the USAF, Boeing would probably not have been able to establish itself as an important manufacturer of civil aircraft. The KC-135 helped Boeing to develop itself into a leading aircraft maker with its 707 programme. One can only guess what the current civil airliner market would look like if Lockheed would have delivered their tanker on time, without problems. Boeing were really lucky here.

Can we say that Lockheed not only dropped the ball at that moment for themselves, but for Douglas and Convair too?

Anybody knows what went wrong at Lockheed at the time? It's still a mystery to me.
 
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DrPaul
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:18 pm

TurboJet707 wrote:
Without the large KC-135 order from the USAF, Boeing would probably not have been able to establish itself as an important manufacturer of civil aircraft. The KC-135 helped Boeing to develop itself into a leading aircraft maker with its 707 programme.


That's something I've mulled over for some time: did the big USAF order for 800 or so C-135s keep Boeing afloat and allow it to get the 707 and 720 going? Would the development of the 707 and 720, and perhaps even the future of Boeing itself, have been possible without the big USAF orders for Boeing planes at that time, not just the C-135 but also the B-47 and B-52?

A question related to this is why the Stratocruiser failed to sell as a civilian airliner: was it just not what airlines wanted at that juncture, or were there other factors? Again, there was a big USAF order for C-97s, much the same number as for C-135s later on (and they must have been alright as I recall seeing them in use into the 1970s).
 
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ClassicLover
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:48 am

DrPaul wrote:
TurboJet707 wrote:
Without the large KC-135 order from the USAF, Boeing would probably not have been able to establish itself as an important manufacturer of civil aircraft. The KC-135 helped Boeing to develop itself into a leading aircraft maker with its 707 programme.


That's something I've mulled over for some time: did the big USAF order for 800 or so C-135s keep Boeing afloat and allow it to get the 707 and 720 going? Would the development of the 707 and 720, and perhaps even the future of Boeing itself, have been possible without the big USAF orders for Boeing planes at that time, not just the C-135 but also the B-47 and B-52?

A question related to this is why the Stratocruiser failed to sell as a civilian airliner: was it just not what airlines wanted at that juncture, or were there other factors? Again, there was a big USAF order for C-97s, much the same number as for C-135s later on (and they must have been alright as I recall seeing them in use into the 1970s).


The Stratocruiser failed to sell well because it was very expensive to operate. Apparently United got rid of their Stratocruisers relatively quickly due to high operational costs. They were unable to put it on the type of premium routes the other airlines were able to. Even then, the airlines that operated it successfully - Pan American, American Overseas Airlines, BOAC and Northwest Orient - only operated it on the premium routes where they could charge enough to make money.
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Thu Dec 27, 2018 12:14 pm

TurboJet707 wrote:
SEPilot wrote:

I think Lockheed’s issue with this generation of jets stems from the tanker project. They actually WON the competition and the 717/KC-135 was only adopted as the interim tanker till the Lockheed model was ready.


With hindsight, this must indeed have been one of the most decisive moments in aviation history. Before the 707, Boeing only had a couple of commercial failures in the civil maket while Douglas was selling thousands of airliners. Boeing was just a minor contender in civil aviation at that moment; Douglas, Lockheed and Convair were the big names in commercial aviation at the time, with their DC4/6, Constellation and CV340 propliners.
While the KC-135 and the 707 were in fact different planes, there were still enough similarities between the two types to allow Boeing to fund much of the 707's development with tax payer's money. Without the large KC-135 order from the USAF, Boeing would probably not have been able to establish itself as an important manufacturer of civil aircraft. The KC-135 helped Boeing to develop itself into a leading aircraft maker with its 707 programme. One can only guess what the current civil airliner market would look like if Lockheed would have delivered their tanker on time, without problems. Boeing were really lucky here.

Can we say that Lockheed not only dropped the ball at that moment for themselves, but for Douglas and Convair too?

Anybody knows what went wrong at Lockheed at the time? It's still a mystery to me.

This is inaccurate, as the large order for KC-135s did not occur until after the 707 was in operation. Boeing spent more than the net worth of the company developing the 707; a risk they again took with the 747. The 367-80 prototype was designed and built strictly with Boeing’s money, and while it was possible because of profits from and experience with the B-47 and B-52, in no way was it government funded. Boeing lost the competition for the tanker, which Lockheed won, but thanks to Curtis LeMay’s insistence Boeing got a contract for a small number (I think it was 30) because they could deliver them quickly. I am quite sure very little development money went with that, and any that did would have been useless for the 707 as it had a different fuselage, a different wing, and different engines. And by the time the Air Force realized that the Lockheed tanker was not forthcoming the 707 was already in service, and the design of the KC-135 was already fixed.

The transformation of Boeing from a military contractor with a couple of failed airliner attempts into the dominant ailrliner manufacturer is one of the most amazing and impressive sagas in industrial history. I know of no other company that has taken such risks and had them pay off so handsomely.
The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so doggone ingenious...Dan Keebler
 
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TurboJet707
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Thu Dec 27, 2018 2:02 pm

Thanks SEPilot.
It is indeed not true that all 803 KC-135s had been ordered before the 707 first flew, but in 1955, the USAF had already ordered 279 tankers from Boeing. At that time, only the 367-80 had flown (July 1954); the first 'proper' 707 didn't make its first flight before December 1957, eighteen months after the KC-135. Of course, the 707 was developed from the 367-80, so many investments had already been made before the first KC-135 order. However, If I'm not mistaken, the decision to widen the 707's cross-section to 6-abreast in order to compete with the DC8 took place after 29+250 KC-135s had been ordered. This decision was quite a risky and expensive one and it took valuable time. With 279 military orders already in the pocket, the decision may have been a bit easier. Boeing was also able to invest in many derivatives early in the programme, like the short-body 707-138 for Qantas, the Intercontinental -320, the 720, and subsequently the re-engined -120B, -320B and 720B versions from 1959-1960. What I am trying to say is that the USAF orders gave Boeing the means and the peace of mind to keep investing in the 707, increasing its appeal to the airlines. Douglas didn't have any military orders at the time to fall back on if the DC8 would have failed as a civil aircraft. Douglas offered only one fuselage length for the DC8 until the advent of the Super Sixty series which came much later. Boeing could offer three (-120, -320, 720; or even four if we count the -138 which was very close to the 720's) fuselages from very early in the programme.

Great thread, by the way! So many valuable contributions.
 
CWizard
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Thu Dec 27, 2018 3:47 pm

SEPilot wrote:
This is inaccurate, as the large order for KC-135s did not occur until after the 707 was in operation. Boeing spent more than the net worth of the company developing the 707; a risk they again took with the 747. The 367-80 prototype was designed and built strictly with Boeing’s money, and while it was possible because of profits from and experience with the B-47 and B-52, in no way was it government funded. Boeing lost the competition for the tanker, which Lockheed won, but thanks to Curtis LeMay’s insistence Boeing got a contract for a small number (I think it was 30) because they could deliver them quickly. I am quite sure very little development money went with that, and any that did would have been useless for the 707 as it had a different fuselage, a different wing, and different engines. And by the time the Air Force realized that the Lockheed tanker was not forthcoming the 707 was already in service, and the design of the KC-135 was already fixed.

The transformation of Boeing from a military contractor with a couple of failed airliner attempts into the dominant ailrliner manufacturer is one of the most amazing and impressive sagas in industrial history. I know of no other company that has taken such risks and had them pay off so handsomely.


Correct. Absolutely correct.
May 15, 1954,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcLQLcUYRSw
 
highflier92660
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:27 pm

I've enjoyed this thread and the intelligent posts, evidently from ATPs, engineers and airline history buffs. Let my toss another asterisk in the marketing history of the Boeing 707 vs. the DC-8.

By the dawn of the 1960s Boeing was ahead of Douglas in sales. Economics, not aesthetics sell airplanes, but to the flying public the Boeing 707-320B with its 35-degree swept wing and 153-foot fuselage profile looked made to fly oceans at .82 Mach. In contrast the DC-8-50 sat high on its main gear and the T/Cs in the nose gave it an appearance of an aviation offshoot of the prehistoric pterodactyl. Moreover that 30-degree Douglas wing-sweep didn't look like it could fool induced drag any more than a Hersey bar wing on a Piper Cherokee.

As has been mentioned in earlier posts, the Boeing 707 was a faster aircraft, particularly at FL-350 and above. This wouldn't have mattered in today's world, but emerging from out of the piston days when airlines said damn to the number of Wright 3350 engine breakdowns and gallons-per-hour of 115/145 octane fuel. Pilots on Boeing 707 carriers took to calling the Douglas product the "DC-late" which was a major thorn on the side of the folks in Long Beach.

In 1961 a small group of Douglas test pilots and engineers hatched a wonderful-awful idea. How far up the food chain it went on Lakewood Blvd. is open to conjecture, but these men were determined to demonstrate that their DC-8, built by America's foremost commercial airframe manufacturer, wouldn't take a backseat to any competition from Boeing or Convair down in Dan Diego. So on a fine summer day in August of that year, Douglas test pilot William McGruder rounded-up a couple other pilot-volunteers with a death wish who had the Right Stuff and together they took a DC-8-43 up high over the Mojave desert near Edwards AFB. In a chase plane was none other than Chuck Yeager himself in an F-104.

Somehow they nursed the "eight" up into the lower stratosphere-- 52,000-feet-- a thousand-feet higher than the highest business jet is certified to fly and only eight thousand feet lower than the Concorde could reach. At the appropriate moment McGruder push the nose over and the DC-late began accelerating, quickly past its Mmo and into an heretofore unknown speed regime. Depending on who is telling an often embellished story, the aircraft did indeed reach transonic and technically supersonic speed while remaining intact. But as the humble subsonic transport accelerated into aerodynamic never-neverland, the shockwave reeked havoc over the wing in the form of aileron buzz and more crucially over the elevator. How close they averted disaster probably won't ever be known, but quick and counter-intuitive thinking on test pilot McGruder's part enabled them to pull out of a dive at 35,000-feet. The DC-8 had flown at Mach 1.01 for sixteen seconds.

Years later pilot Hoot Gibson returned the favor 39,000-feet over Michigan in a TWA 727-100, proving that Boeing built equally strong aircraft that could also break the sound barrier. But that's a tale for another thread.

http://www.mentalfloss.com/article/5851 ... t-concorde
 
FGITD
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:12 pm

highflier92660 wrote:

Years later pilot Hoot Gibson returned the favor 39,000-feet over Michigan in a TWA 727-100, proving that Boeing built equally strong aircraft that could also break the sound barrier. But that's a tale for another thread.

http://www.mentalfloss.com/article/5851 ... t-concorde


Definitely worth noting that Hoot carried out his on a normally scheduled flight with 89 pax, some of which I'm sure did not possess the right stuff, and most of which I assume projectiled the wrong stuff into the seat back and surrounding area
 
timz
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:31 pm

ClassicLover wrote:
the airlines that operated [the B377] successfully - Pan American, American Overseas Airlines, BOAC and Northwest Orient - only operated it on the premium routes where they could charge enough to make money.

First Class fare on a Stratocruiser was usually the same as First Class on other airliners -- ditto Tourist fare. I'm guessing the per-mile fares on Stratocruiser routes weren't higher than other routes -- transatlantic, transpacific or domestic US.

(Truth to tell, I think United did charge extra on their domestic B377 flights. Not enough extra, of course.)
 
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Revelation
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:45 am

DrPaul wrote:
A question related to this is why the Stratocruiser failed to sell as a civilian airliner: was it just not what airlines wanted at that juncture, or were there other factors? Again, there was a big USAF order for C-97s, much the same number as for C-135s later on (and they must have been alright as I recall seeing them in use into the 1970s).

A little Wiki time gives us the production counts:

56: Boeing 377 Stratocruiser
77: Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter
811: Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighter (!!!)

So even though Lockheed may have had the inside track on the jet tanker, Boeing sure had a heck of a franchise in place based on placing 811 KC-97s (and before that, converting 282 B-29s to KC-29s).

Some other numbers from the cold war era:

744: Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
2,032: Boeing B-47 Stratojet (!!!)

And from before that, during WWII:

3,970: Boeing B-29 Superfortress
12,731: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

Sure it may be a bit unfair to bring in the WWII stuff, but man it showed that Boeing learned how to set up a supply chain on a huge scale, and that carried through for the rest of the products I've listed.

TurboJet707 wrote:
Thanks SEPilot.
It is indeed not true that all 803 KC-135s had been ordered before the 707 first flew, but in 1955, the USAF had already ordered 279 tankers from Boeing. At that time, only the 367-80 had flown (July 1954); the first 'proper' 707 didn't make its first flight before December 1957, eighteen months after the KC-135. Of course, the 707 was developed from the 367-80, so many investments had already been made before the first KC-135 order. However, If I'm not mistaken, the decision to widen the 707's cross-section to 6-abreast in order to compete with the DC8 took place after 29+250 KC-135s had been ordered. This decision was quite a risky and expensive one and it took valuable time. With 279 military orders already in the pocket, the decision may have been a bit easier.

I agree with the idea that Boeing made a huge investment and a huge strategic decision to use its huge profits from the military business to try (and it turns out, succeed) at becoming a huge player in the commercial airliner business, but clearly their successful heritage gave them a lot of confidence.

Also the tax man also gave them some motivation. Back in the 1950s corporations were not coddled the way they now are, there was no "Corporations are People" or the "Double Irish" back then. Boeing had to do something with the stream of revenues coming in from all the sales I listed above. It turns out one of the best things to do was to invest in R&D which largely could be written off. Since they had really cornered the military space, spending big to try to get a chunk of the commercial space made a lot of sense.

A good read about that era: https://www.amazon.com/Legend-Legacy-St ... 031205890X
Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
The heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own
 
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zippyjet
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Re: Why did American Airlines go with 707 over DC-8?

Mon Dec 31, 2018 5:23 am

highflier92660 wrote:
I've enjoyed this thread and the intelligent posts, evidently from ATPs, engineers and airline history buffs. Let my toss another asterisk in the marketing history of the Boeing 707 vs. the DC-8.

By the dawn of the 1960s Boeing was ahead of Douglas in sales. Economics, not aesthetics sell airplanes, but to the flying public the Boeing 707-320B with its 35-degree swept wing and 153-foot fuselage profile looked made to fly oceans at .82 Mach. In contrast the DC-8-50 sat high on its main gear and the T/Cs in the nose gave it an appearance of an aviation offshoot of the prehistoric pterodactyl. Moreover that 30-degree Douglas wing-sweep didn't look like it could fool induced drag any more than a Hersey bar wing on a Piper Cherokee.

As has been mentioned in earlier posts, the Boeing 707 was a faster aircraft, particularly at FL-350 and above. This wouldn't have mattered in today's world, but emerging from out of the piston days when airlines said damn to the number of Wright 3350 engine breakdowns and gallons-per-hour of 115/145 octane fuel. Pilots on Boeing 707 carriers took to calling the Douglas product the "DC-late" which was a major thorn on the side of the folks in Long Beach.

In 1961 a small group of Douglas test pilots and engineers hatched a wonderful-awful idea. How far up the food chain it went on Lakewood Blvd. is open to conjecture, but these men were determined to demonstrate that their DC-8, built by America's foremost commercial airframe manufacturer, wouldn't take a backseat to any competition from Boeing or Convair down in Dan Diego. So on a fine summer day in August of that year, Douglas test pilot William McGruder rounded-up a couple other pilot-volunteers with a death wish who had the Right Stuff and together they took a DC-8-43 up high over the Mojave desert near Edwards AFB. In a chase plane was none other than Chuck Yeager himself in an F-104.

Somehow they nursed the "eight" up into the lower stratosphere-- 52,000-feet-- a thousand-feet higher than the highest business jet is certified to fly and only eight thousand feet lower than the Concorde could reach. At the appropriate moment McGruder push the nose over and the DC-late began accelerating, quickly past its Mmo and into an heretofore unknown speed regime. Depending on who is telling an often embellished story, the aircraft did indeed reach transonic and technically supersonic speed while remaining intact. But as the humble subsonic transport accelerated into aerodynamic never-neverland, the shockwave reeked havoc over the wing in the form of aileron buzz and more crucially over the elevator. How close they averted disaster probably won't ever be known, but quick and counter-intuitive thinking on test pilot McGruder's part enabled them to pull out of a dive at 35,000-feet. The DC-8 had flown at Mach 1.01 for sixteen seconds.

This may be trivial but here goes. Regarding public perception, at the time the Boeing cabin interior design looked straight out of the Jetsons! Futuristic round modern aisle ceiling lights, unique for the time overhead PSU's and the simplicity of window shades vs. curtains made the Boeing jet ahead of its time. Whereas the DC-8 cabin looked like a small evolution of the propeller era cabins, curtains, darker interior. Interestingly Douglass went outside the box with seat back bright lights, and gaspers and O2 masks mounted with the tray tables in the backs of the seats. As a wee lad of 6, my first jet flight was on an Eastern B 720 (1962). I was wowed over with the ultra-modern at the time cabin. On that same trip, Eastern had one of their many labor strikes and we flew home on a National Electra. Then as a stupid kid, I felt like we were slumming it! The next year Summer '63 our flight down was again a 720 Eastern. We flew home that trip on Eastern ...no strike on a DC-8. Though a jet, I felt like we went back in time and was disappointed it wasn't the spiffy looking 720 cabin. Boy oh boy, if only I knew then what I knew then. Never again got to fly on an Electra :cry: Three years later I got to fly a Delta DC-8. This was following a flight on the then-new DC-9. Again, I felt like I regressed in time. My 2nd. and last DC-8. Eastern was again on strike so we flew DL. Returning home 2 weeks later we got to fly on an Eastern Boeing 720 and I was again wowed. I remember hearing Born Free and Chim Chim Chimeny as music instrumentals.
  1. Eastern Airlines Boeing 720 BAL (BWI) -MIA June 1962
  2. National Airlines Lockheed Electra (2 weeks later) MIA-BWI with stops in JAX and DCA
  3. Eastern Airlines Boeing 720 BWI-MIA July 1963
  4. Eastern Airlines DC-8 MIA-BWI (2 weeks later)
  5. DL DCA-ATL connecting to DC-8 ATL-MIA Aug. 17, 1966
  6. Eastern Airlines MIA-BWI Boeing 720 Aug. 31, 1966






Years later pilot Hoot Gibson returned the favor 39,000-feet over Michigan in a TWA 727-100, proving that Boeing built equally strong aircraft that could also break the sound barrier. But that's a tale for another thread.

http://www.mentalfloss.com/article/5851 ... t-concorde
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