29 April 1988: Boeing test pilots James C. Loesch and Kenneth Higgins take the new Boeing 747-400, serial number 23719, registration N401PW, for its first flight from Paine Field, landing at Boeing Field 2 hours 29 minutes later.
The 747-400 was a major development of the 747 series. It had many structural and electronics improvements over the earlier models, which had debuted 18 years earlier. New systems, such as a “glass cockpit”, flight management computers, and new engines allowed it to be flown with a crew of just two pilots, and the position of Flight Engineer became unnecessary.
The most visible features of the –400 are its longer upper deck and the six-foot tall “winglets” at the end of each wing, which improve aerodynamic efficiency be limiting the formation of wing-tip vortices.
On 27 June 1988, this 747-400 set a Maximum Takeoff Weight record for airliners by lifting off at Moses Lake, Washington at 892,450 pounds (405,659 kilograms).¹ At the time of its first flight, Boeing had already received orders for 100 747-400s. It would become the most popular version, with 694 aircraft built by the time production came to an end 15 March 2007.
The Boeing 747-400 airliner can carry between 416 and 660 passengers, depending on configuration. It is 231 feet, 10 inches (70.6 meters) long with a wingspan of 211 feet, 5 inches (64.4 meters) and overall height of 63 feet, 8 inches (19.4 meters). Empty weight is 394,100 pounds (178,800 kilograms). Maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) is 875,000 pounds (396,890 kilograms).
While the prototype was powered by four Pratt & Whitney PW4056 turbofan engines, production airplanes could be ordered with PW4062, General Electric CF6 or Rolls-Royce RB211 engines, providing thrust ranging from 59,500 to 63,300 pounds.
The –400 has a cruise speed of 0.85 Mach (567 miles per hour, 912 kilometers per hour) and maximum speed of 0.92 Mach (614 miles per hour, 988 kilometers hour). Maximum range at maximum payload weight is 7,260 nautical miles (13,450 kilometers).
After the test program was completed, the prototype 747-400 was outfitted for airline service. It was operated by Northwestern Airlines and is currently in service with Delta Air Lines. It has been re-registered as N661US, and carries the Delta fleet number 6301.
N661US was the aircraft operated as Northwest Airlines Flight 85 on 9 October 2002 when it suffered a rudder hardover while over the North Pacific Ocean. The aircraft went into a sudden 40° left bank when a hydraulic power unit for the lower rudder failed due to a fatigue fracture. This incident is considered to be an excellent example of Cockpit Resource Management (CRM) as the flight crew successfully landed the airplane at Anchorage, Alaska.
After flying its final revenue flight, 9 September 2015, as Flight 836, Honolulu to Atlanta, N661US was stored at Delta Technical Operations. It is now displayed at the Delta Flight Museum, Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.
28 April 1937: The first transpacific flight by a commercial passenger airliner is completed when Pan American Airways’ Martin M-130, China Clipper, arrived at Hong Kong. The flight had departed San Francisco Bay, California, on 21 April with 7 revenue passengers and then proceeded across the Pacific Ocean by way of Hawaii, Midway Island, Wake Island, Guam, Manila, Macau, and finally Hong Kong. The Reuters news agency briefly reported the event:
AIR LINK AROUND WORLD FORGED.
China Clipper Lands At Hong Kong.
Hong Kong, April 28.
The Pan-American Airways flying boat China Clipper landed at 11:55 this morning from Manila and Macao. This links the Pan-American and Imperial Airways, completing the commercial air link round the world. —Reuter.
—The Straits Times, 28 April 1937, Page 1, Column 4.
The China Clipper, NC14716, was the first of three Martin M-130 four-engine flying boats built for Pan American Airways and was used to inaugurate the first commercial transpacific air service from San Francisco to Manila in November, 1935. Built at a cost of $417,000 by the Glenn L. Martin Company in Baltimore, Maryland, it first flew on 20 December 1934, and was delivered to Pan Am on October 9, 1935.
The airplane was operated by a flight crew of 6 to 9, depending on the length of the flight, plus cabin staff, and could carry 18 passengers on overnight flights or a maximum 36 passengers.
The Martin M-130 was 90 feet, 10.5 inches (27.699 meters) long with a wingspan of 130 feet, 0 inches (39.624 meters). It was 24 feet, 7 inches (7.493 meters) high. Its maximum takeoff weight was 52,252 pounds (23,701 kilograms).
The flying boat was powered by four air-cooled, supercharged, 1,829.389-cubic-inch displacement (29.978 liters) Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp S2A5-G engines. These were two-row, 14-cylinder radial engines with a compression ratio of 6.7:1. The S2A5-G was rated at 830 horsepower at 2,400 r.p.m., and 950 horsepower at 2,550 r.p.m. for takeoff, burning 87-octane gasoline. They drove three-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic constant-speed propellers through a 3:2 gear reduction. The engine was 3 feet, 11.88 inches (1.216 meters) in diameter and 4 feet, 8.75 inches (1.441 meters) long. It weighed 1,235 pounds (560 kilograms).
The airplane had a maximum speed of 180 miles per hour (290 kilometers per hour), and a cruise speed of 130 miles per hour (209 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling was 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) and its range was 3,200 miles (5,150 kilometers).
5 March 1966: British Overseas Airways Corporation Speedbird 911, an around-the-world flight, departed Tokyo-Haneda Airport (HND) at 1:58 p.m., enroute Hong Kong-Kai Tak (HKG), with 113 passengers and 11 crew members. The airliner was a Boeing 707-436 Intercontinental, serial number 17706, with British registration G-APFE. It was nearly six years old, having been delivered 29 April 1960, and had 19,523 hours on the airframe.
Shortly before takeoff, the flight crew requested a change from an IFR flight plan to VFR, with a course that would take the airliner near Mount Fujiyama. The 707 climbed to an altitude of 16,000 feet (4,875 meters) as it approached the mountain from the southwest. The weather was very clear. A weather station on Mount Fuji recorded wind speeds of 60–70 knots (111–130 kilometers per hour).
Flying upwind toward Fujiyama at 320–370 knots (592–685 kilometers per hour), Speedbird 911 encountered severe Clear Air Turbulence that resulted in a catastrophic structural failure of the airframe. The vertical fin attachment failed and as it fell away, struck the left horizontal stabilizer, breaking it off. Next, the ventral fin and all four engine pylons failed due to extreme side loads. The 707 went in to a flat spin, trailing fuel vapor from ruptured tanks. The entire tail section broke away, the right wing failed, and the nose section came off.
The 707 left a debris field that was 10 miles (16 kilometers) long. Speedbird 911 crashed in a forest on the lower flanks of Mount Fujiyama at about the 3,500 foot (1,066 meter) level. The forward section crashed about 1,000 feet (300 meters) away from the main wreckage. All 124 persons aboard were killed.
PROBABLE CAUSE: “The aircraft suddenly encountered abnormally severe turbulence over Gotemba City which imposed a gust load considerably in excess of the design limit.”
The accident was photographed by the Japanese Self Defense Forces from the East Fuji Maneuver Area, located in the foothills of the volcano. A passenger aboard Speedbird 911 had been filming with an 8 mm movie camera. The camera and film were recovered from the wreckage and the film was developed as part of the investigation. The film showed that the aircraft had experienced severe turbulence immediately before the accident. (Investigators estimated the peak acceleration at 7.5 g.)
A U.S. Navy Douglas A-4 Skyhawk was sent to look for the accident site. When the fighter approached Mount Fujiyama, it also encountered severe turbulence, to the point that the pilot feared the small fighter would break up in flight. After returning to base, the A-4 was grounded for inspection. Its accelerometer indicated that it had experienced acceleration forces ranging from +9 Gs to -4 Gs.
G-APFE was a Boeing 707-436 International, built in 1960 for British Overseas Airways. At the time of the accident, it had made 6,744 flights and accumulated a total of 19,523:33 hours (TTAF).
The -436 was a stretched version of the original 707-120, but with Rolls-Royce Conway 508 bypass turbojet engines (now called turbofans) in place of the standard Pratt & Whitney JT3C-6 turbojet engines. 15 ordered by British Overseas Airways Corporation in 1956.
The fuselage and wings of the Intercontinental were lengthened, allowing an increased load and greater fuel capacity. It could carry 189 passengers and had a range 1,600 miles further than the -120. Transoceanic flights without an intermediate fuel stop were possible.
Initially, British aviation authorities refused to certify the -436 because of low-speed handling concerns. Boeing increased the height of the vertical fin 40 inches and added a ventral fin. These modifications became standard on all future 707s and were retro-fitted to those already manufactured.
The Boeing 707-420 series airliners were 152 feet, 11 inches (46.609 meters) long, with a wingspan of 142 feet, 5 inches (43.409 meters) and overall height 42 feet, 2 inches (12.852 meters) at its operating empty weight. The leading edges of the wings and tail surfaces are swept 35°. The fuselage has a maximum diameter of 12 feet, 8.0 inches (3.759 meters). The 707 International has a typical empty weight of 142,600 pounds (64,682 kilograms), and a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 312,000 pounds (141,700 kilograms). The usable fuel capacity is 23,820 gallons (90,169 liters).
All 707-series aircraft are powered by four jet engines installed in nacelles below and forward of the wings on pylons. The -420 Internationals were powered by Rolls-Royce Conway Mk. 508 engines. The Rolls-Royce Conway (R.Co.12) is a two-spool, axial-flow, low-bypass turbofan engine. The engine has a 7-stage low- and 9-stage high-pressure compressor section, 12 interconnected combustion liners, with a single-stage high- and 2-stage low-pressure turbine. The Mk. 508 has a Maximum Continuous Power rating of 14,625 pounds of thrust (65.055 Kilonewtons), and 17,500 pounds of thrust (77.844 Kilonewtons) at 9,990 r.p.m., for Takeoff. The engine is 3 feet, 6.0 inches (1.067 meters) in diameter, 11 feet, 4.0 inches (3.454 meters) long, and weighs 4,542 pounds (2,060 kilograms).
The -420 series had a maximum cruise speed of 593 miles per hour 954 kilometers per hour) at 30,000 feet (9,144 meters)—0.87 Mach; and economical cruise speed of 550 miles per hour (885 kilometers per hour) at 35,000 feet (10668 meters).
Boeing built 1,010 Model 707 airplanes between 1957 and 1979. Of these, 37 were the 707-420 Intercontinental variant.
4 March 1936: The airship Hindenburg (D–LZ 129) made its first flight at Friedrichshafen, on the north shore of Lake Constance in southern Germany. In command was Hugo Eckener,¹ chairman of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH. There were 87 passengers and crew aboard.
The airship was operated by a flight crew of 40, with 12 stewards and cooks. There were 50 passenger sleeping berths in private cabins, with large public areas on the upper, “A” deck, with crew quarters, galley, a public bar and smoking lounge on the lower “B” deck. The ship’s control station was located in a gondola below the forward part of the hull.
The airship was designed by Ludwig Dürr. Its rigid structure was built of triangular-section duralumin girders (a specially heat-treated alloy of aluminum and copper, and anodized blue for corrosion protection). There were 15 ring frames and 36 longitudinals.
The airship’s control surfaces were operated by electric servo motors.
The Zeppelin’s covering was cotton fabric painted with a cellulose varnish which had been impregnated with aluminum powder, both to give it the silver color, but also to act as a reflector to protect the sixteen hydrogen-filled bouyancy gas bags contained inside from heat and ultraviolet light.
Hindenburg was 803 feet, 10 inches (245.008 meters) long, with a diameter of 135 feet, 1 inch (41.173 meters). Hindenburg had a gross weight of approximately 215,000 pounds (97,522 kilograms).
The huge airship was powered by four liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, 88.514 liter (5,401.478-cubic-inch-displacement) Daimler-Benz DB 602 50° V-16 diesel engines with 4 valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 16:1. Mounted in a pusher configuration, the engines turned 19 foot, 8.4 inch (6.005 meter) diameter, four-bladed fixed-pitch wooden propellers through a 0.50:1 gear reduction. The DB 602 had a cruise power rating of 850 horsepower at 1,350 r.p.m. It could produce 900 horsepower at 1,480 r.p.m., and a maximum 1,320 horsepower at 1,650 r.p.m. (5 minute limit). The engines could be run in reverse. The DB 602 was 2.69 meters (8 feet, 10 inches) long, 1.02 meters (3 feet, 4 inches) wide and 1.35 meters (4 feet, 5 inches) high. Each engine weighed 1,976 kilograms (4,356 pounds).
Lift was provided by 16 hydrogen gas cells which were made of multiple layers of cotton fabric which was brushed with latex gelatin. These contained 7,062,000 cubic feet (199,974 cubic meters) of hydrogen with a lift capacity of 511,500 pounds (232,013 kilograms), nearly double the airship’s weight when fully loaded.
LZ 129 had a cruising speed of 76 miles per hour (122 kilometers per hour) and a maximum speed of 84 miles per hour (135 kilometers per hour).
¹ Eckner is universally referred to as “Dr. Eckener.” He earned a doctorate from the Institute for Experimental Psychology, University of Leipzig, 1892.
2 March 1969: Just three weeks after the prototype Boeing 747, City of Everett, made its first flight at Seattle, Washington, the first supersonic airliner prototype, Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde Aircraft 001, registration F-WTSS, made its first flight, taking off from Runway 33 at the Aéroport de Toulouse-Blagnac, Toulouse, France.
On the flight deck were André Édouard Marcel Turcat, Henri Perrier, Michel Retif and Jacques Guinard.
The flight lasted 27 minutes. Throughout the flight, the “droop nose” and landing gear remained lowered.
Concorde was the only commercial airliner capable of cruising at supersonic speeds.
There were two Concorde prototypes (the British Aerospace Corporation built Concorde 002) followed by two pre-production developmental aircraft and sixteen production airliners.
Concorde 001 is 51.80 meters (169 feet, 11.4 inches) long, with a wingspan of 23.80 meters (78 feet, 1 inch). Its fuselage has a maximum height of 3.32 meters (10 feet, 10.7 inches) and maximum width of 2.88 meters (9 feet, 5.4 inches) max internal height 1.96 m (6 feet, 5.2 inches). The prototype’s empty weight is 78,700 kilograms (173,504 pounds), and the maximum takeoff weight is 185,000 kilograms (407,855 pounds). (Pre-production and production Concorde weights and dimensions vary.)
The Concorde is powered by four Rolls-Royce/SNECMA Olympus 593 Mk.610 engines. The Mk. 610 is a two-spool, axial-flow turbojet with afterburner. The compressor section as 14 stages (7 low- and 7 high-pressure stages). Two-stage turbine has 1 high- and 1 low-pressure stage. The engine has a maximum continuous power rating of 28,800 pounds of thrust (128.11 kilonewtons). It is rated at 37,080 pounds (164.94 kilonewtons) for takeoff (5 minute limit). During takeoff, the afterburners produce approximately 20% of the total thrust. The Olympus 593 Mk.613 is 1.212 meters (3.976378 feet) in diameter, 4.039 meters (13.251312 feet)long, and weighs 3,175 kilograms (7,000 pounds).
Production Concordes were certified for a maximum operating cruise speed of Mach 2.04, and a maximum operating altitude of 60,000 feet (18.288 meters). The maximum range 3,900 was nautical miles (4,488 statute miles/7,223 kilometers).
Concorde 001 made 397 flight during flight testing. It accumulated a total of 812 hours, 19 minutes of flight time, of which 254 hours, 49 minutes were supersonic.
Today, Concorde 001 is displayed at the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace, Aéroport de Paris – Le Bourget.
André Édouard Marcel Turcat was born 23 October 1921 at Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France. André was the son of Emile Gaston Turcat and Claire Victoria Jeane Marie Françoise Fleury Turcat. His uncle, Léon Turcat, was co-founder of Ateliers de Construction d’Automobiles Turcat-Méry SA, a manufactuers of grand prix race cars. He was educated at l’École Polytechnique in Palaiseau, a suburb southwest of Paris.
During World War II, Turcat served in the Forces Aériennes Françaises Libres, (the Free French Air Force).
On the day that World War II ended in Europe, 8 May 1945, André Turcat married Mlle Elisabeth Marie (“Julie”) Borelli in Marseille. They would have four children. One, a daughter, died in infancy.
Andre Turcat remained in the Armée de l’air after the war. He flew the Douglas C-47 Skytrain during the First Indochina War. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre des théâtres d’opérations extérieures.
In 1950, Turcat was admitted to the École du personnel navigant d’essais et de réception (EPNER), the test pilot school at Brétigny-sur-Orge, France. He served as director of EPNER, 1952–53.
In 1954, Major Turcat resigned from the Armée de l’air and became the chief test pilot at Société Française d’Etude et de Construction de Matériel Aéronautiques Spéciaux (SFECMAS) (later, Nord-Aviation), flight-testing the Nord 1500 Griffon. He made the first flight of the Nord 1500-01 Griffon, 20 September 1955. He flew the Griffon II, a mixed-propulsion aircraft powered by a turbojet and a ramjet engine, beginning with its first flight, 23 January 1957.
Flying a Griffon, Turcat set three Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Records for Time to Altitude, 16 February 1957: 6,000 meters, 1:17.05;¹ 9,000 meters, 1:33.75;² and 12,000 meters, 2:17.70.³
Turcat reached Mach 2.19 with the Griffon II, for which he was awarded the Harmon Trophy for 1958. The trophy was presented by Richard M. Nixon, 37th President of the United States.
On 25 February 1959, Turcat flew the Griffon II to set an FAI World Record for Speed Over a Closed Circuit of 100 Kilometers, with an average speed of 1,643.00 kilometers per hour (1.015.32 miles per hour).⁴ The Académie des Sports awarded him its Prix Robert Peugeot for the greatest feat accomplished by French athletes in motorsports.
Turcat joined Sud-Aviation as chief pilot for the Concorde.
Turcat and British Aerospace chief test pilot Ernest Brian Trubshaw, C.B.E., M.V.O., shared the 1970 Harmon Trophy, and in 1971, the Iven C. Kincheloe Award of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Iven C. Kincheloe Award for their outstanding professional accomplishments in flight testing.
After 740 flight hours in Concorde, Andre Turcat retired from Aérospatiale, 31 March 1976. He never flew an airplane again.
As a politician, M. Turcat served as deputy mayor of Toulouse, 1971–77; and as a member of the European Parliament, 1980–81.
In 1983, Turcat founded l’Académie nationale de l’air et de l’espace (ANAE) and served as its first president.
In 1990 Turcat earned a doctorate degree in the study of Christian art. He was the author of Pilote d’essais (Ciels du monde t.1); Concorde: Essais d’hier, betailles d’aujourd’hui, 30 and de réve; Les plus beaux textes de la Bible; Moi, Etienne Jamet, alias Esteban Jamete: Sculpteur français de la Renaissance en Espagne comdamné par l’Inquisition; and Une épopeé française.
During his aviation career, Turcat flew more than 6,500 hours in 110 different aircraft. He had been awarded the Médaille de l’Aéronautique. The United Kingdom had appointed him Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.). In 2005 Andre Turcat was named Grand Officier Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur.
André Édouard Marcel Turcat died at his home in Aix-en-Provence, 3 January 2016 at the age of 94 years.