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Going back in time to the pre-jet era

Posted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:08 pm
by aristoenigma
If you could go back in time with the ability to consult the CEOs of the various airlines in the twenties through the fifties who would you have the most to say to about their choices for aircraft and their ultimate successes as airlines. Assume you as a time traveler know how all the prop planes worked out performance-wise in the end. Since this is a fantasy poll feel free to warn about accidents that occurred to save lives.

There are thousands of variables that led to demises and mergers of operators over the time period but if the focus was just aircraft choice how might that advice look? There may be tons more advice for airlines in the jet era but this in intended to focus on who got best set up for success through the prop era.

Re: Going back in time to the pre-jet era

Posted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:46 pm
by flyptk
Until the late 1970s with the rise in oil prices and deregulation basically any plane could make an airline money.

Certainly the Boeing Stratocrusier was harder to make money with then the Constellations, DC-7 and DC-6. Most of the immediate postwar aircraft based on bombers were pretty inefficient. The Lancastrian probably put BSAA out of business due to its tendency to disappear, but not because it a bad plane from a business perspective.

Re: Going back in time to the pre-jet era

Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:30 am
by Kilopond
I wouldn't care about airlines at all. The strangest phenomenon of that time had been the TOTALLY MARONIC authority NACA. Those guys had been absolutely obsessed to find the "ideal profile" that would enable piston-engined aeroplanes to fly at 600 mph. Thanks to their wrong dogmas the US were very late at the introduction of the jet age. Somwhere between number 20 and 40...

Re: Going back in time to the pre-jet era

Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:45 am
by aristoenigma
I read that some operators of Douglas DC-6 and DC-7 types would have been wiser and further ahead to stick with DC-6 only to avoid engine issues with the more powerful engine of the DC-7.

Re: Going back in time to the pre-jet era

Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:42 am
by ClipperYankee
"I read that some operators of Douglas DC-6 and DC-7 types would have been wiser and further ahead to stick with DC-6 only to avoid engine issues with the more powerful engine of the DC-7."

Yes, the P&W R2800 was far more reliable than the Wright Turbo Compound. Very true. The Pratt R-4360 also turned out to be not that reliable as it was so complex and had cooling issues.
I do remember the sounds quite well though...

Re: Going back in time to the pre-jet era

Posted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:06 pm
by PI4EVER
Capital Airlines to not buy so many Viscounts so they could later afford the higher capacity Electra beginning in 1959.
Transocean Air Lines (TALOA) to not buy the used Stratocruiser and opt for better performance and reliable DC-6's on the used market, to then financially afford the 707 for introduction of jet service in 1961.
Allegheny and North Central to never touch the Nord 262. Buy more Convair's and convert to 580's.
Southern Airways run fast as you can away from the "Texas Sewer Pipe" - Metroliner - to replace Martin 404's. The merger with RC did take care of it however.
TWA also run away from the L-1649 "StarStream" Turbo Compound Super Constellation. They cost a fortune in maintenance and those engines almost burned themselves off the wings, but alas, Howard Hughes had the money for awhile.
Eastern, Why buy new DC-7B's and continue to operate a non-standardized fleet of Constellations? The Connie and its various versions up to but not including the L-1649 would have saved costs of acquisition, training, and maintenance, with capacity and range equal, that may have saved money when you transitioned to the Electra as a Connie and DC-7 replacement.
Pan American. The Boeing Stratocruiser made its mark as the Flagship airplane for this airline, and somewhat like the 747 decades later. The Strat was an operational and cost challenge, but personified luxurious air travel in the late 40's and 50's and PA was recognized as the airline of choice for long distance luxury travel in this airplane. If not a Strat would PA have become known as well as TW if associated with the Connie? Could they have flown like airplane fleets to greater success or at the expense of one?
These are just random observations of a guy who has loved airline aviation since his first flight on a Capital DC-3 in 1952 and a 32 year career in the airline business. I was not a CEO or close to it, but many times questioned the logic and reasoning for various decisions that did and did not work.
Agree or not, I hope you enjoy reading my observations and comments to this topic.

Re: Going back in time to the pre-jet era

Posted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:37 pm
by SheikhDjibouti
flyptk wrote:
Until the late 1970s with the rise in oil prices and deregulation basically any plane could make an airline money.

Certainly the Boeing Stratocrusier was harder to make money with then the Constellations, DC-7 and DC-6. Most of the immediate postwar aircraft based on bombers were pretty inefficient. The Lancastrian probably put BSAA out of business due to its tendency to disappear, but not because it a bad plane from a business perspective.


Wow, what a question !
I suspect there was a massive difference in philosophy depending on which side of the Atlantic you are talking.
Post war, the US was already into cheap air travel for the masses, whilst Britain still seemed to be catering for an elite who could afford first class service, and didn't care so much if their craft took three days and 15 fuel stops just to get to Cape Town. Anything was ok just as long as the gin kept flowing.
I believe there was also an agreement during the war that Britain would focus on bombers, and leave transport aircraft to the Americans. That left us at a disadvantage once hostilities had ended. Taking the Lancastrian as an example; it had five crew, but could only squeeze nine passengers into the bomb bay. The Avro York, powered by the same four Merlin engines, and inheriting many other elements from the Lancaster, carried up to 56 passengers.

And then there was yet another offspring from the Lancaster, the Avro Tudor; the aircraft that definitely put BSAA out of business.
Image

Wikipedia wrote:
The Tudor I was intended for use on the North Atlantic route. At the time, the United States had the Douglas DC-4 and Lockheed Constellation, which could both carry more passengers than the Tudor's 12, and also weighed less than the Tudor's weight of 70,000 lb
Twelve passengers! :banghead:
Fortunately it was quickly realised that this was really not good enough, and major design changes were made. But it comes back to my point that British & US philosophy were dramatically different regarding the future of air travel, and that most probably any words of wisdom from time-travellers such as ourselves, would fall on deaf ears here in the UK.