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PEK777
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Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:07 am

Since the dawn on the jet age, dozens of airliner models and variants have been released by the major manufacturers, with varying market reception. We all know the the 737 and 777 have been a success on levels unprecedented, but now and then I find myself fascinated with the other end of the spectrum - what is the biggest commercial aircraft failure of all time? Now, this can be measured in many different ways when considering R&D, sales of other variants, and duration of service across the globe. From the generation of aircraft I have flown on, I would put the following in this 'hall of shame' for various reasons.

A380 - Missed the projected sales big time. The crippling factor here is the massive R&D cost. On a formula of units sold to money lost, I would think this is the runaway winner.
B747-8 - See above
-B767-400 - Simply not a success. Counting its losses against the entire 767 program it probably does not look too bad, but as a study of total units sold of a model, this has to be one of the biggest blunders in Boeing's history
B717 - A sad casualty of the McD merger, but probably still a success considering its (guessing) low development cost and its strong outlook in Delta's fleet.
-A340-600 - See above. Antiquated technology.
-B737-600/A318

Anybody have more scientific data for such a topic? I am sure it is out there somewhere.
 
Okcflyer
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:24 am

MD-11
CRJ-1000
Q400
A342
B573?
CSeries?  stirthepot   duck 

[Edited 2015-09-14 17:27:51]
 
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SOBHI51
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:24 am

There is also
Mercure
Concorde
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seabosdca
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:25 am

I think on a return on development cost metric it has to be one of the A380, 747-8, or A340-500/600. Those were major, multi-billion-dollar projects that did not have their costs amortized by anything else. Low-cost derivatives of otherwise successful programs (737-600, A318, A340-200, 757-300, 717, CRJ1000) are not as big a deal.

In terms of sheer execution futility and cost overrun the answer has to be 787, although the concept was so well planned that Boeing will do OK on very high volume over a very long period of time.
 
FlyHossD
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:36 am

The Dassault Mercere was the first to come to mind.
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LAX772LR
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:44 am

A345 (and to a lesser extent 77L pax) have to be on here as well.

A345 was an abject and total failure every way around.

If you're going to admonish the 748i as a standalone, then the same must be done with the 77L... though when combined with their equivalent freighters, they probably did just fine.

Also, MD11 only sold 200 total units, much of them freighter.
I myself, suspect a more prosaic motive... ~Thranduil
 
nikeherc
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:55 am

I think, if one is willing to go back a bit further, you should consider the DC-7. On one hand it was the ultimate piston powered airliner. However, it sold relatively poorly, was retired early in its life cycle and diverted Douglas Aircraft's attention from a jetliner. It delayed the DC-8 and left Douglas in a hole that they only dug deeper with the Low sales volume of the 8.

You should also consider the Electra. It put Lockheed out of the airliner business until the L-1011.
DC6 to 777 and most things in between
 
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BN727227Ultra
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:56 am

Hands down: Convair 880/990.
 
N415XJ
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:02 am

Quoting OKCFlyer (Reply 1):
Q400

How is the Q400 a failure? It's been in production for 15 years, with 544 ordered and 493 delivered to airlines across the world, forming the backbone of decent-sized airlines such as Flybe and Horizon. In a world where to most passengers turboprops=certain death, that's a good accomplishment. It's no 737 or A320, and it has its problems, but all airliners do. The others on your list I find myself agreeing with.
 
PEK777
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:04 am

Quoting BN727227Ultra (Reply 7):
Hands down: Convair 880/990

Almost twice as many were produced as the 767-400 though
 
delimit
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:05 am

If you adjust for inflation I'd be enormously surprised if anything had a worse ROI than Concorde.
 
rbavfan
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:05 am

DC-5. Introduced at a bad time and sales faltered.
 
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Polot
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:12 am

Quoting pek777 (Reply 9):

But as you mention the 764 has many shared costs with the 1000+ other 767s. The Convairs just had the 880/990 produced.
 
bohica
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:15 am

Mercure - It came out after airlines had DC-9 and 737 fleets already delivered. Also the range sucked. The running joke is that the Mercure didn't have enough range to leave France.

Trident - The 727 was a more capable airplane overall. At one point even BEA wanted the 727 over the Trident but the British government forced them to buy the Trident 3 instead.

VC-10 - Great airplane but customers went with the 707 and DC-8.

Convair 880/990 - Smoke belching, gas guzzling planes with no future. A 737 carried the same number of passengers with only 2 engines.

Comet - Structural failures doomed that project.
 
Viscount724
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:41 am

Quoting OKCFlyer (Reply 1):
Q400

With 544 sold the Q400 is hardly a failure.

Quoting pek777 (Reply 9):
Quoting BN727227Ultra (Reply 7):
Hands down: Convair 880/990

Almost twice as many were produced as the 767-400 though

But the 764 is just another 767 model, not an entirely new type like the 880/990 which was a massive commercial failure and drove Convair out of the airliner business. You can't consider sub-models like the 764, 736, A318 on the same basis as aircraft that were new designs and didn't sell and thus where the few built had to absorb all the development costs.

If you want to include sub-models, add the 747SP, only 45 built and almost certainly didn't cover the development costs.

Others somewhat earlier not yet mentioned:

Vickers VC-10 (54 built)
Vickers Vanguard (44 delivered to 2 original customers)
Bristol Britannia (85 built and very late going into service)
 
Okcflyer
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:50 am

Quoting N415XJ (Reply 8):

Quoting OKCFlyer (Reply 1):
Q400

How is the Q400 a failure? It's been in production for 15 years, with 544 ordered and 493 delivered to airlines across the world, forming the backbone of decent-sized airlines such as Flybe and Horizon. In a world where to most passengers turboprops=certain death, that's a good accomplishment. It's no 737 or A320, and it has its problems, but all airliners do. The others on your list I find myself agreeing with.

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 14):

Quoting OKCFlyer (Reply 1):
Q400

With 544 sold the Q400 is hardly a failure

Fair points Gentlemen. I agree, in retrospect it's not a huge failure especially considering it's a highly-modified derivative. When I thought of it earlier, I was comparing to the ATR, in this respect they really missed the design optimization criteria the market found valuable. That alone doesn't make it a commercial failure.

Personally, I like riding in them. Have been in one a half dozen times or so.

Carry on!
 
FlyHossD
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:16 am

Quoting pek777 (Reply 9):
Almost twice as many were produced as the 767-400 though
Quoting FlyHossD (Reply 4):
The Dassault Mercere was the first to come to mind.

Then again, I'd offer the Mercere. IIRC, Dassault sold only 12 - less than half of the 767-400 sales.
My statements do not represent my former employer or my current employer and are my opinions only.
 
Newark727
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:17 am

Quoting nikeherc (Reply 6):
I think, if one is willing to go back a bit further, you should consider the DC-7. On one hand it was the ultimate piston powered airliner. However, it sold relatively poorly, was retired early in its life cycle and diverted Douglas Aircraft's attention from a jetliner. It delayed the DC-8 and left Douglas in a hole that they only dug deeper with the Low sales volume of the 8.

I think the DC-7 did outsell its principal direct competition (the Lockheed L-1649 Starliner) though.
 
imagoagnitio
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:26 am

How's about the VFW-Fokker 614, only 19 built
 
AFGMEL
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:27 am

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 14):
Trident - The 727 was a more capable airplane overall. At one point even BEA wanted the 727 over the Trident but the British government forced them to buy the Trident 3 instead.

The aircraft wasn't so much of a blunder as the British culture of ruining their aircraft industry by pandering to UK airlines and government departments and ignoring commercial realities. BEA specced the Trident and then didn't want it. VC-10 is another example. Both of these aircraft could have been successes had they been free from interference.
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threeifbyair
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:59 am

Quoting seabosdca (Reply 3):
In terms of sheer execution futility and cost overrun the answer has to be 787, although the concept was so well planned that Boeing will do OK on very high volume over a very long period of time.

Agreed. I'd put the 787 right up there with the A380 as far as blunders.

Both are huge programs with enormous development costs to earn back. The A380 likely won't earn back dev costs. The 787, despite so many sales, will not for a long time, if ever.

It is going be a long, slow road back from the $25 billion plus hole the 787 program is in. When you factor in the time value of money, it looks even worse.
 
global2
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:02 am

How about the IL-86 / IL-96?
 
chrisp390
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:04 am

Q400 is not a failure. The Dash 7 however most certainly was
 
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GCT64
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:06 am

Any list of "jet airliner blunders" which doesn't put the Mercure 1st (and 2nd and 3rd   ) is probably incorrect!
Flown in: A20N,A21N,A30B,A306,A310,A319,A320,A321,A332,A333,A343,A346,A359,A388,BA11,BU31,(..56 more types..),VC10,WESX
 
F9Animal
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:17 am

F-70, Dornier 328JET? I know those 2 took a hit.
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mayor
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:18 am

Quoting bohica (Reply 13):
Convair 880/990 - Smoke belching, gas guzzling planes with no future. A 737 carried the same number of passengers with only 2 engines.

Depends if you're considering it in the time period it operated OR in our day & time, I would say.

Quoting OKCFlyer (Reply 1):
B573?

What, may I ask, is this?
"A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary"----Fred Allen
 
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Tugger
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:18 am

Quoting delimit (Reply 10):
If you adjust for inflation I'd be enormously surprised if anything had a worse ROI than Concorde.

I'm betting the TU-144 might have....

Tugg
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United787
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:26 am

Quoting GCT64 (Reply 23):

Any list of "jet airliner blunders" which doesn't put the Mercure 1st (and 2nd and 3rd   ) is probably incorrect!

Why did this airliner fail? Was it purely the range? The plane never had a single accident...
 
dc10lover
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:30 am

I am no expert but i like the Beechcraft 1900D Airliner and wish it was a better success.
Why endure the nightmare and congestion of LAX when BUR, LGB, ONT & SNA is so much easier to fly in and out of. Same with OAK & SJC when it comes to SFO.
 
maxpower1954
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:07 am

Quoting bohica (Reply 13):
Convair 880/990 - Smoke belching, gas guzzling planes with no future. A 737 carried the same number of passengers with only 2 engines.

What first generation jetliner wasn't a smoke belching, gas guzzling plane? You have to look at in the context of 1959 when it first flew, not 10 years later. The 880 in particular was aimed at the shorter/medium range market because the 707/DC-8 covered the long range one.

The biggest killer of the 880 was the Boeing 720. When it was announced the 880 was dead meat.
 
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TheRedBaron
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:09 am

Its weird in this website where there are a lot of very knowledgeable people nobody ha mentioned the biggest money hole in the history of Aviation:

The Tristar, It bankrupted RR and nearly killed Lockeed, in fact it is shown on economics as a project that had all the black flags, and also in a high inflation time, to top it off, a competitor with a very similar product and better reputation....

gazzilions were lost and never recovered.

My favourite Aircraft (along with the Concorde and the 727), and it was a marvel of tech, but a blunder in the $$$ department.

Best Regards

TRB
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Spacepope
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:15 am

In the jet age, I'll vote for the Baade 152.
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BoeingGuy
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:23 am

Quoting TheRedBaron (Reply 30):
The Tristar, It bankrupted RR and nearly killed Lockeed, in fact it is shown on economics as a project that had all the black flags, and also in a high inflation time, to top it off, a competitor with a very similar product and better reputation....

Yet the Tristar was an excellent airplane, just like the 767-400 and 717.

Quoting mayor (Reply 25):
Quoting OKCFlyer (Reply 1):
B573?

What, may I ask, is this?

I think he's going strictly by sales, and not taking into account when something is a derivative.

If you want to go by the criteria that some people are using then the 707-138 and 707-220s were colossal failures. Of course they weren't.
 
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LAX772LR
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:36 am

Quoting TheRedBaron (Reply 30):
a competitor with a very similar product and better reputation....

Despite the L1011 being the farrrr superior design, vis-a-vis the DC10. Somewhat ironic.
I myself, suspect a more prosaic motive... ~Thranduil
 
AngMoh
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:40 am

Quoting F9Animal (Reply 24):
F-70, Dornier 328JET? I know those 2 took a hit.

The F-70 had a low production volume due to Fokker going bust (I think only 2 years production). It was actually designed to help trying to save Fokker. And considering the youngest is 18 years old and almost the whole fleet is still in service (6 in storage, none scrapped or written off yet), it seems to do quite well in service.

The Dornier-328 sold 200+ in 9 years which might not make it a success but it is definitely not a blunder.

What fits on this list:

Do-728
ARJ21
AN-148/AN-158
Xian MA60
727 732 733 734 735 73G 738 739/ER 742 743 744/M 752 753 762 772 77E 773 77W 788 A300 A310 A319 A320 A321 A332 A333 A343 A345 A346 A359 A35K A388 DC-9 DC-10 MD11 MD81 MD82 MD87 F70 ERJ145 E170 E175 E190 E195 ATR72 Q400 CRJ200 CRJ700 CRJ900 BAE146 RJ85
 
bluejuice
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 5:00 am

Quoting Spacepope (Reply 31):
In the jet age, I'll vote for the Baade 152.

Along those lines, I would add the Shanghai Y-10. A Chinese narrowbody based on the 707/720. It was supposed to be China's first "modern" commercial airliner even though it was based on a mature western design. The program started in 1970 but first flight did not happen until 1980. In 1984, the program was finally cancelled in favor of locally produced MD-80s.
Not biased against vacuum flush.
 
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mayor
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 5:37 am

Quoting BoeingGuy (Reply 32):

I think he's going strictly by sales, and not taking into account when something is a derivative.

That still doesn't tell me what it is.....a typo or a 757-300?
"A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary"----Fred Allen
 
BoeingGuy
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 5:39 am

Quoting mayor (Reply 36):
Quoting BoeingGuy (Reply 32):

I think he's going strictly by sales, and not taking into account when something is a derivative.

That still doesn't tell me what it is.....a typo or a 757-300?

Oh I get it. You want to know what the identifier means. Yes, 753 is the 757-300. I thought you were questioning why that was on his list.
 
hz747300
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:09 am

Quoting pek777 (Thread starter):
We all know the the 737 and 777 have been a success on levels unprecedented

I would add A320 and A330 to your success list, and if we're including all history, the DC-3, and 727.

Failures, is the L1011--everyone says it was a great aircraft, and I did like the electric doors when I flew the Saudia and TWA ones, but can financial shenanigans alone doom a 'great' aircraft? Likewise, the MD-11 found a home in the freighter market, but numbers are rough.

A345/6 - totes
77L - I'd argue no, because of the freighter + the cost of development probably was not that great. Sticking 77W wings on a 77E body, right?
748i-totes, freighter version not so shabby
A343/2-the 2 yes, though I think it looks cool, the 3, not as much but as fast as they are being replaced probably.

There is a big grey area, for planes that served their purpose, but were never huge markets to begin with.
Keep on truckin'...
 
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fallap
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:48 am

Boeing 747-300 and Boeing 747SP?
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Now studying Political Science
 
777X
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:01 pm

If we're going by sales, I'd say AN-225 takes the cake! Only one built, and wasn't the second cancelled halfway through production?
 
Viscount724
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Fri Sep 18, 2015 2:35 am

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 14):
Others somewhat earlier not yet mentioned:

Vickers VC-10 (54 built)
Vickers Vanguard (44 delivered to 2 original customers)
Bristol Britannia (85 built and very late going into service)

Another British type just came to mind, the Handley-Page Dart Herald. Only 50 built.


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jumpjets
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Fri Sep 18, 2015 10:32 pm

How about the AVro RJX the third generation of the BAe146/Avro RJ. BAe made a couple of sales but it never went into production. I think there is a prototype at Manchester airport. Maybe the only one of three I think ever made that survives.
 
Viscount724
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Fri Sep 18, 2015 11:03 pm

Quoting LAX772LR (Reply 33):

Despite the L1011 being the farrrr superior design, vis-a-vis the DC10. Somewhat ironic.

Not in terms of payload and range. There as no L-1011 that could match the DC-10-30. They had to develop the L-1011-500 to increase the range but shrinks are rarely successful. Couldn't match the passenger and cargo capacity of the DC-10-30.
 
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longhauler
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Sat Sep 19, 2015 1:08 am

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 43):
Not in terms of payload and range. There as no L-1011 that could match the DC-10-30. They had to develop the L-1011-500 to increase the range but shrinks are rarely successful. Couldn't match the passenger and cargo capacity of the DC-10-30.

In those days, the airframe capabilities were pretty much tied to engine advancements. If RR had ever made an RB211 that could match the -50 engines of the DC-10-30 then the result would be close to the same. As RR was still basically bankrupt, engine advancements and development were not until much later.

As it stands, and as the CP reject at YVR on October 19, 1995 showed, MDD was more than (ahem) optimistic about the capabilities of the DC-10-30.

From an engineering standpoint though, to compare the L1011 to the DC-10 is like comparing a V12 Vantage to an Escort!
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
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LTU932
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Sat Sep 19, 2015 11:28 am

Quoting hz747300 (Reply 38):
77L - I'd argue no, because of the freighter + the cost of development probably was not that great. Sticking 77W wings on a 77E body, right?

My point exactly. The 777-200F is based on the 77L, so while sales of the pax version aren't big, for the 77F alone it may still break even. And IIRC, if you want the 777-200 pax today, you can only get the 77L, not the 777-200A or the 77E. Correct me if I'm wrong though.

Quoting Fallap (Reply 39):
Boeing 747-300 and Boeing 747SP?

The 747-300 was nothing but a factory built 747-200SUD. However, later built models got the new wingroot from the 747-400 and were offered with CF6-80 engines. Even the 747-8 shouldn't make that big of a loss either, considering that it is, in a nutshell (and leaving other changes aside for a moment), a stretched 747-400 with new wings and new engines (with the -8i having an even more stretched upper deck).
Sometimes the only thing more dangerous than a question is an answer. - Ferengi Rule of Acquisition 208
 
Viscount724
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Sun Sep 20, 2015 1:43 am

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 45):
nd IIRC, if you want the 777-200 pax today, you can only get the 77L, not the 777-200A or the 77E. Correct me if I'm wrong though.

I think the 77E (-200ER) is still theoretically available although the last one was delivered 2 years ago. Unlikely any more will be built but it's still in the current Boeing official price list in their website.
http://www.boeing.com/company/about-bca/#/prices
 
airnorth
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Sun Sep 20, 2015 5:52 am

While many of the aircraft mentioned above, may be, or have been financial failures, they are still great aircraft.

Quoting chrisp390 (Reply 22):
The Dash 7 however most certainly was

I have only had the chance to fly on a Dash 7 twice, and while it may not have sold very well, it really is an amazing aircraft! Air Tindi hauled some pretty impressive loads through bad weather into some really rough primitive strips for us. I I thought the STOL performance was awesome.
 
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longhauler
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Sun Sep 20, 2015 2:06 pm

Quoting airnorth (Reply 47):
While many of the aircraft mentioned above, may be, or have been financial failures, they are still great aircraft.

I agree. Hindsight is great, but many forget the huge technological and engineering advances in aircraft like the Trident or VC-10. They did not sell well, but they did perform their intended mission better than anything!

Quoting airnorth (Reply 47):
I thought the STOL performance was awesome.

I sat on the jump seat of a Trans-Capital Dash-7 landing at YYZ. We landed on 23 and cleared on B ... it was astounding to watch!
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
Viscount724
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RE: Greatest Airliner Blunders

Mon Sep 21, 2015 3:53 am

Quoting longhauler (Reply 48):
Quoting airnorth (Reply 47):
I thought the STOL performance was awesome.

I sat on the jump seat of a Trans-Capital Dash-7 landing at YYZ. We landed on 23 and cleared on B ... it was astounding to watch!

Airshow in Norway 1987. Includes 2 STOL landings.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezjfU4KtZtc

I doubt there's ever been another airliner with the Dash 7's STOL performance that could carry 50 passengers.

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