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shankly
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:39 pm

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 49):
Also a victim of, IMHO, a disinformation campaign by certain North American manufacturers,

Actually, BOAC did all it possibly could to dis the VC-10 in order to wriggle out of its VC-10 commitments without the help of any other parties.

History records however that in BOAC service, the VC-10 load factors were higher than the 707, thus negating the higher fuel consumption....just imagine if this fact had been properly conveyed to Pan Am, TWA etc along with the potential stretch that the airframe allowed.....a world full of VC-10's would have been a much prettier place, albeit also a tad noisier
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CF-CPI
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:59 pm

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 49):
he ex-Pak a/c would have been model 1E (extended range) which I believe was also ordered by Iraqi Airways and perhaps one or two others. BEAs were 1C ('domestic') and were basically limited to Europe.

Right. The 1E had uprated Speys and a redesigned wing with a more sophisticated system of leading edge devices vs the older 1C. Range was also enhanced. They were also ordered by BKS/Northeast and a few of them showed up with BA in the late 70s. Kuwait had a few, in addition to the airlines mentioned in the above quote. The 1E was considered the 'perkiest' of the Trident variants, which isn't saying much. While the Trident 2 also had an increase in power and range, it was negated somewhat by higher weights.
 
DTWPurserBoy
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:08 pm

I was always curious about the extra ramjet engine in the tail of the T3. Did it really affect takeoff performance that much?

One of the saddest videos I have ever seen was taken in September, 1970 when terrorists blew up the Super VC-10 in Jordan. You could see the tail sag to the ground during the explosion and I seem to recall having seen a photograph taken later which appeared to show the tail and engines intact.

Does anyone know if they or any part of the wreckage was ever retrieved from the desert? I wonder if there is still anything left out there now. What a waste of three beautiful aircraft.
Qualified on Concorde/B707/B720/B727/B737/B747/B757/B767/B777/DC-8/DC-9/DC-10/A319/A320/A330/MD-88-90
 
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:20 pm

Quoting DTWPurserBoy (Reply 52):
I was always curious about the extra ramjet engine in the tail of the T3. Did it really affect takeoff performance that much?

I think it did on certain routes where airfields were of limited length, or where altitude or heat was a factor. One thing that surprised me is that Oslo Fornebu (the old airport) - LHR often made use of the booster. It's the last route I'd expect any issues with, but the runway there might have been on the short side.
 
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dennypayne
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:24 pm

Quoting DTWPurserBoy (Thread starter):
Where are they now?

F-BTTB is displayed at the Technik Museum Speyer in Germany near Heidelberg & Stuttgart. Here is one photo of it I took when I was there in 2011. It's in decent shape.

http://speyer.technik-museum.de/en



[Edited 2013-08-20 14:25:42]
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Viscount724
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:29 pm

Quoting DTWPurserBoy (Reply 52):
I was always curious about the extra ramjet engine in the tail of the T3. Did it really affect takeoff performance that much?

It wasn't a ramjet. It increased takeoff thrust by about 15% which is fairly significant.
 
maxpower1954
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:18 pm

Quoting longhauler (Reply 48):
With many thousands of hours in the B737, I can't imagine what the 3rd cockpit crewmember at Air France even did! (Or even at UAL during its short time with a 3 man crew).

1. The walkaround
2. Made the PAs
3. Dealt with the company on the radio
4. Dealt with the Flight attendants and passenger issues.
5. Look for traffic. In pre-TCAS days, flying into Palookaville, North Carolina this actually had real merit.
6. Any other unpleasant task the captain could think of.

The three guy 737 period wasn't as short as you think, from 1968 till about 1978. All ALPA carriers did it United, Western, Piedmont and Frontier (though Frontier pilots rebelled around 1974 and signed a new contract without the third guy, they got thrown out of ALPA for a time.) Some of the Piedmont captains I flew with started as 737 S/Os. They were fully qualified F/Os, that way scheduling had good flexibility. It was basically like a domestic IRO.
 
GDB
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Tue Aug 20, 2013 11:31 pm

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 36):
Re Trident developed to 'suit' BEA: this MAY be true, but it is widely known that BEA really wanted the 727 -- which was a lot more a/c than the Trident.

It's even worse than that, BEA wanted the original design scaled down, after one lower winter season traffic loads.
So the smaller, less easy to further develop, RR Spey was fitted, not a planned, more powerful turbofan.
Fast forward a few years, yes BEA now wanted 727's to supplement the too small Trident, given their role in shrinking the aircraft the government - who were subsidising BEA - told them to suck it up and take the Trident 3.

Quoting DTWPurserBoy (Reply 40):
Quoting DTWPurserBoy (Reply 40):
I believe CAAC also expressed interest in the Super VC-10 but by that time the production line had already been shut down.

I flew the Super VC-10 once from JFK-LHR in 1977 specifically so I could ride on that beautiful airplane. I still have the pictures that I took of it from the gate area at JFK. It was Golf Lima which flew the last VC-10 flight for British Airways. What a beautifully designed aircraft she was!

That's true, if the VC-10 had been French they'd have stored the production jigs etc and dusted them off for CAAC.
I'm also envious that you got to fly on the VC-10!

Quoting shankly (Reply 50):
Actually, BOAC did all it possibly could to dis the VC-10 in order to wriggle out of its VC-10 commitments without the help of any other parties.

History records however that in BOAC service, the VC-10 load factors were higher than the 707, thus negating the higher fuel consumption....just imagine if this fact had been properly conveyed to Pan Am, TWA etc along with the potential stretch that the airframe allowed.....a world full of VC-10's would have been a much prettier place, albeit also a tad noisier

Yes, not be outdone by BEA with the Trident, BOAC, even more subsidised, acted appallingly with the VC-10 and as it happened, not even in accordance with their flying customers wishes.
The way we did things in the UK all too often, you couldn't make it up.

I don't think either would have sold in numbers to seriously match the Boeing and MDD ranges but they each could have sold many more than they did.

Maybe it was, keeping it at least within the family topic wise, Marcel Dassault who put it best, remarking on the failure to develop the world beating Fairey Delta aircraft into a production fighter, 'but for the way you do things in Britain, you could have had the Mirage'.
 
prebennorholm
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:18 am

Quoting timz (Reply 11):
So why did they give it such a short range?

It wasn't intentionally so in the beginning.

The Mercure was designed to take advantage of the Snecma M56 engine, a 20,000 lbs quiet and fuel efficient high bypass ratio turbofan engine that was never fully developed.

With that engine the Mercure had the potential to be a serious competitor, not to the 737 and DC-9, but to the 727-100 (and the BAe Trident).

Mercure development was well advanced when the M56 project was cancelled, and consequently the plane stood with no engine to fit.

The Rolls Royce RB 220 engine could have been an alternative, but it never went beyond the design study phase as the RB 211 bankrupted the company.

Development of high bypass turbojet engines proved a lot more difficult than anticipated, and the R&D money dried out in an environment of unbelievably cheap fuel prices.

So they had to either cancel the Mercure project or tailor it to an existing engine. At that time there was no alternative to the PW JT8D, which was too small for the plane. It couldn't lift much fuel off the ground without a third engine.

Air Inter, however, served many short, mainly domestic routes, so they saw an opportunity to have the plane tailored to their special needs. They ordered 10 slightly stretched planes with even shorter range than the prototype planes. Since structure was already made for a more powerful and heavier plane, then the stretch was a simple issue. With a pax capacity much higher than the 737 and DC-9 using the same engines it was the perfect plane for their needs.

Eventually the second prototype was refurbished and also sold to Air Inter. Since it had shorter and lighter fuselage, it could have carried slightly more fuel. But for commonality reasons it was outfitted with the same fuel tanks as the 10 stretched production planes.

To try to rescue the program Dassault for some time negotiated with P&W about a more powerful JT8D-117 engine. But it came to nothing at that time, mainly because P&W (likely very right) saw little opportunity to sell European planes in the US with the weak US dollar at that time. Some years later the plans for that engine was undusted and became the JT8D-2xx engines on the MD-80. But then the Mercure program was long time RIP.

Even later Uncle Sam had paid a very high price for having GE develope the hot F101 engine for the Rockwell B-1 bomber. GE and Snecma saw an opportunity to mate its hot core with the M56 fan into the CFM56 engine. And even later a "clean sheet Mercure copy" named A320 made it into the air with that engine. But that's another story - and slightly more successful.

Not saying that the Mercure was unsuccessful. Sales were disappointing, but the whole fleet being operated day and night for 20+ years with 98% dispatch reliability, and never harming any passenger or crew in the process, proves that it was a sound design. It just needed the engine which it was initially designed for.
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timz
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:54 am

Sounds like a thoughtful analysis. Until when were they planning the M56?
 
solarflyer22
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:55 am

Quoting prebennorholm (Reply 58):
Not saying that the Mercure was unsuccessful. Sales were disappointing, but the whole fleet being operated day and night for 20+ years with 98% dispatch reliability, and never harming any passenger or crew in the process, proves that it was a sound design. It just needed the engine which it was initially designed for.

I think thats a great point and it seems like engine problems have plagued many a developments (i.e. L-1011). I guess there are many lessons learned here but clearly 1) is having a good engine available for the plane and its design 2) you need a lot of upfront capital, preferably from a government in order to start making planes.

What's sad is that they could not just ride out a couple of years until a 200 model with new engines could have been made. Great effort on the part of Dassault.
 
maxpower1954
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:25 am

Many great aircraft designs have been let down by the power plants not being up to the job. In the airliner world the Bristol Britannia, Convair 880/990 and VFW-614 come immediately to mind.
 
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RayChuang
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:51 am

I think in many ways, what was learned from the Mercure was used on the Joint European Transport (JET) proposals of the circa 1978-1981--proposals that evolved into the Airbus A320, the first truly runaway success in terms of sales for an airliner. It was a plane European airlines wanted in the first place: a viable alternative to the Boeing 727 and 737. And continues to be with the new A320neo models with either the CFM International LEAP-X or Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines.
 
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American 767
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:26 am

Quoting Mercure1 (Reply 45):
Even Air France 737s had 3-man cockpits until 1981.

??? It was only in 82 or 83 that Air France received its first 737. Upon delivery, they were already configured with a two-man cockpit. I believe, however, that already in the 70s Air France was contemplating the 737 as an eventual Caravelle replacement.

Speaking of the Mercure, I remember spotting those in Nice back in the 80s. Dassault always had the expertise of designing fighter jets , that's why the Mercure was designed with a high speed aerodynamics, low speed take off capability, high maneuverability and short range. Indeed, there is one parked at Le Bourget in Paris.

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mercure1
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 3:43 am

Quoting American 767 (Reply 63):
??? It was only in 82 or 83 that Air France received its first 737.

No Air France operated 737-200s in the 1970s. Leased ones with 3 man cockpits.


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Not until it managed changes in regulations in 1981 did it order the batch of 12 737-228A that arrived in 1982 with the 2 man-cockpits.
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maxpower1954
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 4:20 am

There were no 737s with configured three man cockpits. They were designed for two. The third man, required by union contracts at some carriers, rode in the regular cockpit jumpseat. He had no panels or controls, just access to a radio/interphone/PA.
 
DrColenzo
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 10:59 am

Quoting shankly (Reply 50):
History records however that in BOAC service, the VC-10 load factors were higher than the 707, thus negating the higher fuel consumption....just imagine if this fact had been properly conveyed to Pan Am, TWA etc along with the potential stretch that the airframe allowed.....a world full of VC-10's would have been a much prettier place, albeit also a tad noisier

We'll that would provide customers but there is the other issue of manufacturing, Vickers only made 54 VC-10s and did not have the advantages of Boeing in terms of economies of scale - Vickers never made a profit on that aircraft, although perhaps the super VC-10 as proposed would have been quite attractive to airliners operating in the 1960s.

Here the thing, the 707, 727 and 737 share so many components from one another the cost of production and indeed running the aircraft was substantially lower than a mixed fleet of BAC 1-11s, HS Tridents and Vickers VC-10 - if the UK government wanted to really help the airliner industry in the 1960s and 70s it would have promoted a basic design that could be extended, shortened, with four engines, three or two and made in large numbers. Airlines being very aware of revenue would have gone for that, which is one of the reasons BOAC/BEA then BA were reticent about buying British - not a lack of patriotism but a painful awareness of the bottom line.

That to me is the great shame, if the UK could have sorted out the costs issues by rationalising the product as well as the industry then we might be seeing a lot more UK manufactured airliners around today but even then, I am clueless as to why BAE never bothered to design a successor to the 146/ Avro RJ to provide for the sector now served by the Embraer E-Jets and Bombardier RJ thingies - just adverse to investment and risk, maddening!
 
DrColenzo
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 11:08 am

I forgot to mention, I flew as a passenger many times on the RAF VC-10 over a decade ago now and whilst the experience was 'different' the aircraft did not feel as solid as Boeing aircraft from the same era such as the C/KC-135s and in some areas I found the construction to be workman like as opposed to craftsman like on the Boeing.*

Just a view and it might also be because of the age of the aircraft and the maintenance regime - those KC-135s are well looking after and upgraded by the USAF in a way the RAF never did with the VC-10 and they will continue going for quite a while even with the KC-46 replacement. A re-engined, rejigged and retooled VC-10 would have been a smart move for the RAF in the 1990s 

Moving back to the original topic, I wonder why the Armée de l'Air did not order or where made to order the Mercure or develop aircraft based upon it?

*I disliked immensely flying on the Tristar - the plane is sound but the cabin felt like a giant cave in RAF config, again just a preference.
 
r2rho
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 12:46 pm

Quoting prebennorholm (Reply 58):

Excellent summary, providing real insight as to why the Mercure fell so short on range. And while the Mercure was a commercial failure, its heritage went on to become two huge commercial successes: the A320 and the CFM56.

Quoting prebennorholm (Reply 58):
So they had to either cancel the Mercure project or tailor it to an existing engine. At that time there was no alternative to the PW JT8D, which was too small for the plane. It couldn't lift much fuel off the ground without a third engine.

To me the Mercure always seemed as lacking on the engine side. So was its short range more due to the poor fuel uplift capability (plus poor fuel burn of the JT8 to make it worse)? Or was it also fuel-volume limited? It looks to me as the Mercure could have fared well with the [not-yet CF]M56 that it was originally planned for.
 
AirbusA6
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 1:12 pm

Quoting maxpower1954 (Reply 61):
Many great aircraft designs have been let down by the power plants not being up to the job. In the airliner world the Bristol Britannia, Convair 880/990 and VFW-614 come immediately to mind.

The BAe 146 is another one, hence it ended up with 4 hairdryers under the wing  
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DTWPurserBoy
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:07 pm

Quoting AirbusA6 (Reply 69):
The BAe 146 is another one, hence it ended up with 4 hairdryers under the wing

Never understood why that head 4 engines unless there were no engines available with the right thrust to have just 2 when the plane was designed.

I have always heard that airplanes are designed around available engines and not the other way around.
Qualified on Concorde/B707/B720/B727/B737/B747/B757/B767/B777/DC-8/DC-9/DC-10/A319/A320/A330/MD-88-90
 
WA707atMSP
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:39 pm

Quoting maxpower1954 (Reply 56):
The three guy 737 period wasn't as short as you think, from 1968 till about 1978. All ALPA carriers did it United, Western, Piedmont and Frontier (though Frontier pilots rebelled around 1974 and signed a new contract without the third guy, they got thrown out of ALPA for a time.)

Western pilots nicknamed the 737 second officer the "GIB". Officially, this stood for "Guy in Back", but a Gibcat is a male cat that's been castrated, so the name was also probably a not-so-nice dig at the second officer's lack of responsibility.
 
connies4ever
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 2:52 pm

Quoting DTWPurserBoy (Reply 70):
Never understood why that head 4 engines unless there were no engines available with the right thrust to have just 2 when the plane was designed.

I have always heard that airplanes are designed around available engines and not the other way around.

Correctamundo. Had a proper engine been available, the 146 would have had much better economics.
Usually a/c are designed around available engines, but there trainwrecks. The Brittania was designed around a projected engine (whose designation escapes me right now) but this program was cancelled and the Proteus was really the only option. Which had a lot of issues: engine icing being a big one. Lots of blade shedding as well during development which slowed the whole process down. Then again, this was early on in turbine engine development.

Quoting WA707atMSP (Reply 71):
Western pilots nicknamed the 737 second officer the "GIB". Officially, this stood for "Guy in Back", but a Gibcat is a male cat that's been castrated, so the name was also probably a not-so-nice dig at the second officer's lack of responsibility.

You must have read Robert Serling's "She'll Never Get Off the Ground". First time I encountered the term. Great read if you're a flying buff.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
 
GDB
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:35 pm

Reply 58 is the best and most informative piece I've ever seen on the Mercure.

With the HS, later BAe-146, the HS designation dates the design to the early 70's, the project was cancelled in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis.
When BAe was formed in 1977, the rationale being to have a national champion with a large product portfolio. In civil aircraft there were the biz jets and the ailing BAC-1-11, so to balance the BAe range away from being a largely military portfolio, the HS-146 was revived as the BAe-146, as well as a modernised Jetstream, the 31.

The 146 was also originallly designed with city centre airports in mind, low noise being a priority hence the powerplants chosen.
Though the city airports, save for LCY years later, did not materialise, those features were promoted, with some success in the 1980's and 90's, as a plus for regional carriers.
PSA's breakthrough order for the US market, in 1983, was cited as being due to the BAe-146 using very noise sensitive airports in California.
 
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ClassicLover
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 6:54 pm

Quoting DTWPurserBoy (Reply 52):
Does anyone know if they or any part of the wreckage was ever retrieved from the desert? I wonder if there is still anything left out there now. What a waste of three beautiful aircraft.

Yes, BOAC sent a team of engineers out there to retrieve the engines and whatever they could. They concluded the engines were unsalvageable. The only portion recovered was the tailplane, so BOAC had a spare. This turned out to be quite fortunate as all the aircraft had to have something done to the tailplanes later in service, requiring the whole unit to be swapped out. As they had a spare, no aircraft had to be out of service for any longer than they had to. I have no idea if anything is still there in Jordan - it was 43 years ago so probably not much if anything.
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
 
Pihero
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RE: Dassault Mercure--Why Did It Fail?

Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:30 pm

There is a lot of information on this thread that bears no respect for the truth and facts that disregard historical sense and detail.

1/- The engine : The design dates from 1968, at which time the only logical engine would have been the PW JT8 and accordingly, the Mercure was closely tailored to the eventual D-17.
From the word go, Dassault envisioned an airliner that would make the best economic sense on short sectors, through very advanced aerodynamic design and structure lightness. As at that time the oil prices weren’t yet biting, the emphasis was on the quickest time possible, and that the Mercure did with some sparkling performance : climb and descent at IAS 380 kt / Mach .83, cruise at Mach .84… no wonder her pilots called her “The Air Inter Fighter “ !
What Prebennorholm refers to in his # 58 is the Mercure 200 project, a stretched version capable of 185 passengers but needing an engine in the 10 ton range : the M56 would have fitted quite nicely on that project but couldn’t be available before 1976… and the SNECMA study went into the (CF)M56 that they designed and built with GE. In terms of calendar, it could still have worked alright for the Mercure 200. Problem was the French government was already spending a lot on Concorde and the A300 and Dassault didn’t have the resources – and the will – to go on its own and the -200 project was shelved.

2/- The A320 parentage : It’s another red herring as the initial basis for the A320 was the Aerospatiale SA)">AS 200… and even that is doubtful as the studies of the JET are the true initiators of the Airbus SA ( for “single aisle” ) family.The man in charge of the design was Derek Brown who had nothing in common with either Dassault or Aerospatiale – and was based in Weybridge.
Of course, the single aisle airplanes all look alike, but the silhouettes hide some drastic changes : the A320 was designed some 13 years after the Mercure and the technical solutions are several orders of magnitude apart.

3/- The three man cockpit . Contrarily to A.net wisdom, the Mercure was designed for two pilots.The problem was Pilot Unions’ politicking, led by the IFALPA and some of the most vocal – and powerful –syndicates, especially in France.
The 737 used in the Carribbean had a flight engineer on the foldable jumpseat. It’s worth noticing that the aircond-pressurisation panel was displaced to the right side of the observer panel, close to the O2 mask storage : The FE had something to do !
It is also worth reminding that when Air France management couldn’t agree with the SNPL for a two-man cockpit, they simply cancelled their 737 order, postponing its EIS by some 8 years , until it became obvious that ther FE was seeing the end of his usefulness on single aisle airliners… but still the eventual acceptance of the FE-less crew on the 737 and the A320 led to a painful schism at the SNPL with the creation of the SPAC with the die-hard dissidents.
For the Mercure, the FE was in fact very useful : its speed alone required another pair of eyes and hands to manage the systems and procedures, of which the CAT III autoland validation was a big time consumer.
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