10 September 1993: Boeing completed production of the 1,000th 747 commercial transport, a 747-412, c/n 27068, delivered to Singapore Airlines and assigned civil registration 9V-SMU.
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.
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 524 passengers, depending on configuration. It is 231 feet, 10 inches (70.663 meters) long with a wingspan of 211 feet, 5 inches (64.440 meters) and overall height of 63 feet, 8 inches (19.406 meters). Empty weight is 394,100 pounds (178,760.8 kilograms). Maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) is 875,000 pounds (396,893.3 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 8,355 miles (13,446 kilometers).
Singapore Airlines retired 9V-SMU in December 2010. It was acquired by Aircastle Limited in 2011, converted to a freighter and re-registered as N417AC. It was next leased to Southern Air Inc., 20 January 2012, with a new N-number, N400SA. On 30 December 2014, c/n 27068 was withdrawn from service and placed in storage at MoD St. Athan Airport, Wales.
4 September 1949: At 11:30 a.m., Sunday morning, the prototype Bristol Brabazon Mk.I, G-AGPW, made its first flight at Filton Aerodrome. Chief Test Pilot Arthur J. “Bill” Pegg was in command with Walter Gibb as co-pilot. An 8-man flight test crew was also aboard. A crowd of spectators, estimated at 10,000 people, were present.
Designed as a transatlantic commercial airliner, development of the Type 167 began in 1943. The Mk.I prototype, G-AGPW, had been rolled out in December 1948. On 3 September 1949, the flight test crew performed a series of taxi tests.
The first flight lasted 26 minutes. The Brabazon had reached 3,000 feet (914 meters) and 160 miles per hour (257 kilometers per hour).
The Bristol Aeroplane Company Type 167 Brabazon Mk.I was a very large low-wing monoplane, designed to carry 100 passengers on transatlantic flights. it had been named to honor John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara, the first man to fly an airplane in England, and a very important figure in the development of the British aeronautical industry.
The Type 167 was slightly larger than the United States Air Force Convair B-36A intercontinental strategic bomber. It was 177 feet, 0 inches (53.950 meters) long with a wingspan of 230 feet, 0 inches (70.104 meters) and overall height of 50 feet, 0 inches (50.240 meters). The fuselage had a maximum diameter of 25 feet (7.62 meters).
The leading edge of the inboard section of the Brabazon’s wing was swept 4° 16′ and had no dihedral, while the outer section was swept 14° 56′ with 2° dihedral. The wings had an angle of incidence of +3° 30′. The chord narrowed from 31 feet, 0 inches (9.449 meters) at the root, to 10 feet, 0 inches (3.048 meters) at the tip. The wings’ maximum thickness was 6 feet, 6 inches (1.981 meters). The Mk.I’s wing area was 5,317 square feet (494 square meters).
The horizontal stabilizer had a span of 75 feet, 0 inches (22.860 meters). The angle of incidence was +2° and there was no dihedral. The stabilizer’s area was 692 square feet (64.3 square meters).
The airplane’s empty weight was 169,500 pounds (76,884 kilograms), and its maximum takeoff weight of 290,000 pounds (131,542 kilograms). For the first flight, its gross weight was 200,000 pounds (90,718 kilograms).
The prototype was powered by eight air-cooled, supercharged, 3,271.87-cubic-inch-displacement (53.62 liter) Bristol Centaurus 20 eighteen-cylinder radial engines. They had a cruise power rating of 1,640 horsepower at 22,000 feet (6,706 meters); maximum continuous power and maximum climb power rating of 2,190 horsepower at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters); and 2,500 horsepower for takeoff. Each pair of engines drove a set of coaxial counter-rotating three-bladed Rotol constant-speed wooden propellers with a diameter of 16 feet, 0 inches (4.877 meters).
Power was transmitted from each engine by an angled drive shaft to separate beveled gears in a dual reduction gear unit. The reduction gear ratio was 0.400:1. For one-engine-out operation, the effected propeller would be feathered, while the other engine of the pair continued to power the other counter-rotating propeller. The propellers were reversible for braking on landing.
Turboprop engines were planned for the Brabazon Mk.II.
Estimated performance of the Brabazon Mk.I (before flight testing was completed) was a cruise speed of 250 miles per hour (402 kilometers per hour), and maximum speed of 300 miles per hour (483 kilometers per hour), both at 25,000 feet (7,620 meters), the airplane’s service ceiling.
The maximum fuel capacity of the Mk.I was 13,650 gallons (51,671 liters), giving a maximum range at cruise speed of 5,460 miles (8,787 kilometers). This was sufficient for a flight from London to New York with the required fuel reserve.
Only one Brabazon Mk.I was built. The prototype Mk.II was never completed. The project was cancelled in 1952. The total cost of the Brabazon program was approximately £6,500,000 (estimated at £170,981,807, or $221,489,833 in 2017). G-AGPW was eventually scrapped.
Thanks to regular “This Day in Aviation” reader, Mr. Lynn Brown, for suggesting this subject.
On 21 August 1961, a Douglas DC-8-43, N9604Z, c/n 45623, Line Number 130, flown by Chief Test Pilot William Marshall Magruder, Paul Patten, Joseph Tomich and Richard H. Edwards climbed to 50,090 feet (15,267 meters) near Edwards Air Force Base. Placing the DC-8 into a dive, it reached Mach 1.012 (668 miles per hour/1,075 kilometers per hour) while descending through 41,088 feet (12,524 meters). The airliner maintained this supersonic speed for 16 seconds. This was the first time that a civil airliner had “broken the Sound Barrier.”
An Air Force F-100 Super Sabre and F-104 Starfighter were chase planes for this flight. Reportedly, the F-104 was flown by the legendary test pilot, Colonel Chuck Yeager.
The Douglas DC-8 is a commercial jet airliner, a contemporary of the Boeing 707 and Convair 880. It was operated by a flight crew of three and could carry up to 177 passengers. The DC-8 was powered by four turbojet or turbofan engines mounted on pylons suspended below the wings. The wings’ leading edges were swept to 30°, as was the vertical fin and horizontal tailplane.
The DC-8-40 series is 150 feet, 6 inches (45.872 meters) long with a wingspan of 142 feet, 5 inches (43.409 meters) and overall height of 42 feet, 4 inches (12.903 meters). It had an empty weight of 124,790 pounds (56,604 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 315,000 pounds (142,882 kilograms).
The DC-8-40 series had a cruising speed of 0.82 Mach (542 miles per hour/872 kilometers per hour) at 35,000 feet (10,668 meters). Its maximum range was 5,905 nautical miles (6,795 statute miles, 10,936 kilometers).
N9604Z was powered by four Rolls-Royce Conway RCo.12 Mk 509 two-shaft axial-flow turbofan engines, rated at 17,500 pounds of thrust (77.844 kilonewtons) at 9,990 r.p.m. The 509 is 11 feet, 3.9 inches (3.452 meters) long, 3 feet, 6.2 inches (1.072 meters) in diameter, and weighs 4,542 pounds (2,060 kilograms).
N9604Z was delivered to Canadian Pacific Airlines 15 November 1961, re-registered CF-CPG, and named Empress of Montreal. It later flew under CP Air as Empress of Buenos Aires. The DC-8 was scrapped at Opa Locka Municipal Airport, north of Miami, Florida, in May 1981.
15 August 1962: American Airlines’ Captain Eugene M. (“Gene”) Kruse set a National Aeronautic Association Class C-1 record for Speed Over a Commercial Air Route, East to West Transcontinental, when he flew a Boeing 720B Astrojet from New York to Los Angeles, 2,474 miles (3,981.5 kilometers), in 4 hours, 19 minutes, 15 seconds, at an average speed of 572.57 miles per hour (921.46 kilometers per hour). 56 years later, this record still stands.
The National Aeronautic Association has placed Captain Kruse’ record on its “Most Wanted” list: long-standing flight records that it would like to see challenged. Rules require that a new record exceed the old by at least a 1% margin. The performance needed to establish a new record would be 578.30 miles per hour (930.68 kilometers per hour).
The Boeing 720 was a variant of the Model 707, intended for short to medium range flights. It had 100 inches (2.54 meters) removed from the fuselage length and improvements to the wing, decreasing aerodynamic drag.
The Boeing 720 was operated by a flight crew of four and could carry up to 149 passengers. It was 136 feet, 2 inches (41.25 meters) long with a wingspan of 130 feet, 10 inches (39.90 meters) and overall height of 41 feet, 7 inches (12.65 meters). The airplane had an empty weight of 103,145 pounds (46,785 kilograms) and Maximum Takeoff Weight of 220,000 pounds (100,800 kilograms).
The Boeing 720 was powered by four Pratt & Whitney Turbo Wasp JT3C-7 turbojet engines, a civil variant of the military J57 series. The 720B was equipped with the more efficient P&W JT3D-1 turbofan engines. The JT3C-7 was a “two-spool” axial-flow engine with a 16-stage compressor (9 low- and 7 high-pressure stages), 8 combustion tubes, and a 3-stage turbine (1 high- and 2 low-pressure stages). It was rated at 12,030 pounds of thrust (53.512 kilonewtons) for takeoff. The JT3D-1 was a dual axial-flow turbofan engine, with a 2-stage fan section 13-stage compressor (6 low- and 7 high pressure stages), 8 combustion chambers and a 4-stage turbine (1 high- and 3 low-pressure stages). This engine was rated at 14,500 pounds of static thrust (64.499 kilonewtons) at Sea Level, and 17,000 pounds (75.620 kilonewtons), with water injection, for takeoff (2½ minute limit). Almost half of the engine’s thrust was produced by the fans. Maximum engine speed was 6,800 r.p.m. (N1) and 10,200 r.p.m. (N2). It was 11 feet, 4.64 inches (3.471 meters) long, 4 feet, 5.00 inches (1.346 meters) wide and 4 feet, 10.00 inches (1.422 meters) high. It weighed 4,165 pounds (1,889 kilograms). The JT3C could be converted to the JT3D configuration during overhaul.
The maximum cruise speed was 611 miles per hour (983 kilometers per hour) and maximum speed was 620 miles per hour (1,009 kilometers per hour). Range at at maximum payload was 4,370 miles (7,033 kilometers).
Boeing built 154 720 and 720B airliners from 1959 to 1967.
The last flight of a Boeing 720 was on 9 May 2012, when a 720B aircraft used by Pratt and Whitney Canada as a test aircraft was placed in the National Air Force Museum of Canada at Trenton, Ontario.
2 August 1947: At 1:46 p.m., British South American Airways Flight CS59 departed Buenos Aires, Argentina enroute Santiago, Chile. The airliner was an Avro Lancastrian Mk.III, registration G-AGWH, named R.M.A. Star Dust. The flight was under the command of Captain Reginald J. Cook, D.S.O., D.F.C., D.F.M., with First Officer Norman Hilton Cook, Second Officer Donald S. Checklin, Radio Operator Dennis B. Harmer and “Stargirl” Iris Morcen Evans. On this flight, in addition to the five-person airline crew, there were just six passengers.
At 5:41 p.m., Santiago airport received a routine Morse code signal from G-AGWH indicating the flight would arrive in four minutes:
“ETA SANTIAGO 17.45 HRS STENDEC”.
The radio operator at Santiago did not understand “STENDEC” and asked the airliner’s radio operator to repeat it, which he did, twice. The airliner never arrived. A five-day search was unsuccessful. The meaning of the last word in the message has never been determined.
The fate of Star Dust remained a mystery until 1998, when two mountain climbers on Mount Tupungato—at 21,555 feet (6,570 meters), one of the highest mountains in South America—50 miles east of Santiago, found a wrecked Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engine in the ice of a glacier at the 15,000 foot level (4,572 meters). A search of the glacier in 2000 located additional wreckage and it was confirmed that this was the missing Lancastrian. The crash site is at S. 33°22’15.0″, W. 69°45’40.0″.
Investigators determined that the airliner had flown into the glacier at high speed and the crash caused an avalanche which buried the wreckage.
In 2002 the remains of eight persons were recovered from the glacier, five of which were identified through DNA.
The Avro 691 Lancastrian Mk.III was a four-engine civil transport based on the World War II very long range heavy bomber, the Avro Lancaster. The Mk.III variant was built specifically for the British South American Airways Corporation by A.V. Roe & Co. Ltd, at Woodford, Cheshire, England, and was an improved version of the British Overseas Airways Corporation Lancastrian Mk.I. Eighteen Mk.IIIs were built for BSAAC. G-AGWH, serial number 1280, was the second of this series. It first flew on 11 November 1945 and was registered to BSAAC 16 January 1946.
The airliner was operated by a flight crew of four and carried one flight attendant. It could carry up to thirteen passengers. The Lancastrian Mk.III was 76 feet, 10 inches (23.419 meters) long with a wingspan of 102 feet (31.090 meters) and overall height of 19 feet, 6 inches (5.944 meters). The empty weight was 30,220 pounds (13,707.6 kilograms) and gross weight was 65,000 pounds (29,483.5 kilograms).
The Lancastrian Mk.III was powered by four 1,648.9-cubic-inch-displacement (27.04 liter) liquid-cooled, supercharged, Rolls-Royce Merlin T24/2 ¹ single overhead camshaft (SOHC) 60° V-12 engines producing 1,650 horsepower and turning three bladed propellers.
These gave the airplane a cruise speed of 245 miles per hour (394.3 kilometers per hour) and a maximum speed of 315 miles per hour (506.9 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling was 25,500 feet (7,772 meters) and the range was 4,150 miles (6,679 kilometers).
¹ Two of G-AGWH’s Merlin T24/2 engines had been completely overhauled and converted to the Merlin 500-2 configuration. One engine was converted to a Merlin 502. The fourth engine remained as a T24/2. All engines had less than 1,200 hours total time since new (TTSN) and the converted engines were approximately 500 hours since overhaul (TSOH).