Tag Archives: Qantas

16 November 1920

Queensland and Northern Territories Aerial Services, Ltd., first airplane, an Avro 504K, G-AUBG. (Qantas)
Queensland and Northern Territories Aerial Services, Ltd., first airplane, an Avro 504K, G-AUBG. (Qantas)

16 November 1920: Queensland and Northern Territories Aerial Services, Ltd., today known as Qantas, is one of the oldest airlines in the world. It was founded at Winton, Queensland, Australia, on 16 November 1920 as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited by Paul Joseph McGinness, D.F.C., D.C.M., and Wilmot Hudson Fysh, D.F.C., both World War I fighter aces; Fergus McMaster, a local businessman; and Wilfred Arthur Baird, an aircraft mechanic who had served in Egypt with McGinness and Fysh.

Initially the airline operated air mail services which were subsidized by the Australian government, linking railheads in western Queensland. It flew its first commercial passenger, Alexander Kennedy, on 2 November 1922.

The airline’s first airplane was a two-place, single-engine A. V. Roe & Co., Ltd., Avro 504, c/n D1, G-AUBG. D1 was one of nine Avro 504-series airplanes which were assembled by the Australian Aircraft and Engineering Company, A. V. Roe’s licensee at Sydney, New South Wales. A replica of the airplane is on display at the Kingsford Smith Memorial, Mascot, New South Wales.

Qantas took delivery of D1 on 30 January 1921. It was assigned a registration mark of G-AUBG, 28 June 1921. The airplane was involved in a serious accident at Ingham, North Queensland, 2 August 1921. It was repaired and returned to service three months later.

Qantas operated it until 6 November 1926, when it was sold to H.J. Taylor, of Hawthorn, Victoria. The airplane was later owned by Matthews Aviation, and finally, by Newcastle Air Service, as Newcastle’s Own. The Avro’s registration was changed to VH-UBG, 28 March 1929. The registration was cancelled 14 April 1932.

Between 1913 and 1932, nearly 9,000 Avro 504-series airplanes were built by more than twenty manufacturers. The Avro 504K was 29 feet, 5 inches (8.996 meters) long with a wingspan of 36 feet (10.973 meters) and height of 10 feet, 5 inches (3.175 meters). Its empty weight was 1,231 pounds (558 kilograms) and the maximum takeoff weight was 1,829 pounds (830 kilograms).

The Avro 504 had been designed to accept installation of several different engines. D1 had been assembled using a water-cooled, normally-aspirated, 8.822 liter (538.351 cubic inches) Sunbeam-Coatalen Aircraft Engines Dyak single overhead camshaft (SOHC) inline 6-cylinder engine. (Sunbeam named its aircraft engines after ethnic groups. The Dyak are an indigenous people of Borneo.) The Sunbeam Dyak was a left-hand tractor, direct-drive engine with two valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 5:1. It used two Claudel-Hobson B.Z.S. 38 updraft carburetors, two magnetos, and was rated at 100 horsepower at 1,200 r.p.m. The Dyak weighed 399 pounds (190 kilograms).

In 1931, the Avro was re-engined with a right-hand tractor, water-cooled, normally-aspirated, 9.005 liter (549.519 cubic inches) A.D.C. (Aircraft Disposal Company, or “Airdisco”) overhead valve (OHV) V-8 engine. The A.D.C. V-8 had a compression ratio of 4.6:1 and was rated at rated at 120 horsepower at 1,800 r.p.m. It had 2:1 propeller gear reduction.

Queensland & Northern Terrory Aerial Services’ Avro 504, G-AUBG, at Isisford, Queensland, Australia, circa 1921. Museums Victoria Collections MM 952)

The 504K had a cruise speed of 75 miles per hour (121 kilometers per hour), maximum speed of 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour), service ceiling of 16,000 feet (4,877 meters) and range of 250 miles (402 kilometers).

As of October 2017, Qantas had 29,596 employees. After-tax profit for 2016 was A$1,029,000,000. Qantas currently operates a fleet of 118 aircraft, which includes 28 Airbus A330s and 12 A380s, 10 Boeing 747-400s, 67 B737-800s and 1 787-9. The airline has 45 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners on order, with confirmed delivery dates for the first 15.

Qantas’ first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, VH-ZNA, arrived at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD), 20 October 2017. (James Morgan/Qantas, via Australian Aviation)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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2 November 1922

Qantas' first passenger, Alexander Kennedy, at Longreach, Queensland, Australia, 2 November 1922. (Qantas)
Qantas’ first passenger, Alexander Kennedy, at Longreach, Queensland, Australia, 2 November 1922. (Qantas)

2 November 1922: The first scheduled airline passenger to fly aboard the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited was Alexander Kennedy. The pilot was Hudson Fysh (later, Sir Hudson Fysh, KBE, DFC). The engineer was W. Arthur Baird. The trip was from Longreach to Cloncurry, Queensland, Australia.

The Queensland and Northern Territory Aersial Service Ltd. office at Longreach. (Hudson Fysh/State Library of new South Wales)

Qantas’ web site describes the event:

An 84-year-old outback pioneer named Alexander Kennedy became the first Qantas passenger on a scheduled flight. He had agreed to subscribe some cash and join the provisional board provided he got ticket No.1. His flight, on 2 November 1922, was on the Longreach-Winton-McKinlay-Cloncurry section of the inaugural mail service from Charleville to Cloncurry.

Alexander Kennedy's airline ticket, Number 1. (Qantas)
Alexander Kennedy’s airline ticket, Number 1. (Qantas)

Hudson Fysh recalled the event in his book, Qantas Rising, “The Armstrong Whitworth was wheeled out of the hangar at the first streak of dawn, many willing hands helping to push her to the then uneven surface of the stony ‘tarmac’. The 160hp Beardmore engine sprang to life after Baird and his helpers had given the propeller a few turns, and flickering flames jetted from the exhaust stubs.

“I climbed into the cockpit and ran the engine up. Yes, she gave her full revs and all was in readiness. Kennedy climbed in, brushing off assistance as he groped for the foot-niches in the side of the fuselage, and then he was settled with safety belt adjusted. Baird was aboard too. The chocks were pulled away from the wheels, and out we taxied to the far corner of the aerodrome.

“The wind was light and fitful, coming from the north-east in warm puffs. It was going to be a scorching western day. When I opened up the throttle with a roar we gathered motion, careering towards the far fence, but we did not seem to be getting the usual lift, the revs were down a shade, and the old AW refused to come unstuck. I shut off and taxied back for another try.

“After three attempts with the same result I taxied back to the hangar again and running up the engine found that we were 50 revs down, just enough to make the difference. The other machine, old G-AUDE, which the day before had opened the service with McGinness, was hastily got out, our load transferred, and we were out for another try.

“No doubt about it this time as we rose in the morning air and headed over the still sleeping town for Winton, our first stop, 35 minutes late on our departure time.”Qantas

Queensland and Northern Territory Air Service, Ltd., Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 G-AUDE. (John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland)
Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, Ltd., Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 G-AUDE. (John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland)

The Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 was a World War I-era general purpose biplane which had been designed by Dutch engineer Frederick Koolhoven. It was 32 feet, 0 inches (9.754 meters) long, with a wingspan of 43 feet, 8 inches (13.310 meters) and height of 10 feet, 10 inches (3.302 meters). It had an empty weight of 870 kilograms (1.,918 pounds) and maximum takeoff weight of 1,275 kilograms (2,811 pounds).

The F.K.8 was powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated 16.629 liter (1,014.74-cubic-inch-displacement) Beardmore Aero Engine, Ltd., 160-h.p. inline six-cylinder engine with a compression ratio of 4.76:1. Although the engine was identified as “160 h.p.”, it produced 174 horsepower at 1,250 r.p.m., and during a maximum power test, 208 horsepower. The engine weighed 620 pounds (281.2 kilograms).

The F.K.8 had maximum speed of 95 miles per hour (153 kilometers per hour) and a service ceiling of 13,000 feet (3,960 meters). Qantas operated three of these biplanes, G-AUCF, G-AUCS and G-AUDE.

Qantas’ Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8, G-AUDE, c/n 69, was formerly Royal Air Force F4231. The airplane had been purchased as surplus equipment by Simpson, Tregilles Aircraft and Transport, Ltd., Perth, Western Australia, and was first registered 28 June 1921. It was sold to Quantas in 5 September 1922. The airplane was damaged beyond economical repair in a forced landing near Blackall, Queensland, 13 September 1923. The pilot was not injured. The airplane was dismantled and later burned.

The Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited's Armstrong Whitworth FK8 at Longreach, Queensland, Australia, 2 November 1922. Alexander Kennedy, the first scheduled passenger, is third from the right. (National Library of Australia)
The Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited’s Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 at Longreach, Queensland, Australia, 2 November 1922. Alexander Kennedy, the first scheduled passenger, is third from the right. (National Library of Australia)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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16–17 August 1989

Qantas' Boeing 747-438 Longreach VH-OJA, Spirit of Australia. (Aero Icarus)
Qantas’ Boeing 747-438 Longreach VH-OJA, City of Canberra. (Aero Icarus)

16–17 August 1989: On its delivery flight, Qantas’ first Boeing 747-438 Longreach airliner, VH-OJA, City of Canberra, was flown by Captain David Massey-Green from London Heathrow Airport, England (IATA: LHR, ICAO: EGLL) to Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, Australia (IATA: SYD, ICAO: YSSY), non-stop. Three other senior Qantas captains, Ray Heiniger, George Lindeman and Rob Greenop completed the flight deck crew. Boeing Training Captain Chet Chester was also aboard.

The distance flown by the new 747 was 17,039.00 kilometers (10,587.54 miles) at an average speed of 845.58 kilometers per hour (525.42 miles per hour). The flight’s duration was 20 hours, 9 minutes, 5 seconds. This set a new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Distance ¹ and World Record for Speed Over a Recognized Course.²

The crew of Qantas Flight 741. Front row, left to right: FSD David Cohen, FSD Mal Callender. Back row, left to right: Captain Ray Heiniger, Captain David Massey-Greene, Captain George Lindeman, Captain Rob Greenop.
The crew of Qantas Flight 7741. Front row, left to right: FSD David Cohen, FSD Mal Callender. Back row, left to right: Captain Ray Heiniger, Captain David Massey-Greene, Captain George Lindeman, Captain Rob Greenop. (Unattributed)
Boeing 747-438 Longreach VH-OJA, City of Canberra at Sydney, Australia, August 1989. The motto, WE FLY FURTHER has been painted on the fuselage in recognition of the new airliner's distance record. (John McHarg)
Boeing 747-438 Longreach VH-OJA, City of Canberra, at Sydney, Australia, August 1989. The motto, WE GO FURTHER has been painted on the fuselage in recognition of the new airliner’s distance record. (John McHarg)

VH-OJA was the first of four Boeing 747-400 airliners ordered by Qantas more than two years earlier. The company named these “Longreach” both to emphasize their very long range capabilities, but also as a commemoration of the first scheduled passenger flight of the Queensland and Northern Territories Aerial Services Ltd. at Longreach, Queensland, 2 November 1922. Qantas named the new airliner City of Canberra. The new 747, the twelfth -400 built, with U.S. registration N6064P, it made its first flight at Seattle with Boeing’s test pilots on 3 July 1989. It was turned over to Qantas on 9 August.

Planning for the record setting flight began almost as soon as the airplane had been ordered. Although the airplane was complete and ready to enter passenger service on arrival at Sydney, certain special arrangements were made. Shell Germany refined 60,000 gallons (227,000 liters) of a special high-density jet fuel and delivered it to Heathrow. Rolls-Royce, manufacturer of the RB211-524G high-bypass turbofan engines, had agreed to specially select four engines to be installed on VH-OJA at the Boeing plant at Everett, Washington.

On the morning of the flight, City of Canberra was towed to the Hold Short position for Runway 28 Right (28R) so as not to use any of the precious fuel while taxiing from the terminal. Once there, its fuel tanks were filled to overflow. The airport fire department stood by as the excess fuel ran out of the tank vents. In the passenger cabin were two Flight Service Directors, FSD David Cohen and FSD Mal Callender, and eighteen passengers including senior executives from Qantas, Boeing, Shell as well as representatives of the Australian news media. The flight crew planned the engine start to allow for the mandatory three-minute warm-up and at approximately 0840 local, called the Tower, using the call sign Qantas 7441, and said that they were ready for takeoff.

A Qantas Boeing 747-438 Longreach, VH-OJU, Lord Howe Island, leaves contrails across the sky. (Unattributed)

After climbing to altitude they began the cruise portion of the flight at Flight Level 330 (33,000 feet or 10,058 meters). As fuel was burned off the airliner gradually climbed higher for more efficiency, eventually reaching a maximum altitude of 45,100 feet (13,746.5 meters) by the time they had reached the west coast of Australia.

QF7441 touched down at Sydney Airport at 2:19 p.m, local time (0419 UTC).

City of Canberra, Qantas' first Boeing 747-400-series airliner, touches down at Sydney Airport, 2:19 p.m., local, 17 August 1989. (Qantas Heritage Collection)
City of Canberra, Qantas’ first Boeing 747-400-series airliner, registered VH-OJA, touches down at Sydney Airport, 2:19 p.m., local, 17 August 1989. (Qantas Heritage Collection) 

For a more detailed description of this flight and its planning, see John McHarg’s article, “The Delivery Flight of Qantas Boeing 747-438 VH-OJA” at:

http://www.aussieairliners.org/b-747/vh-oja/vhoja%20article/vhojastory.html

City of Canberra, VH-OJA, remained in Qantas service until 8 March 2015. The airliner was withdrawn from service and donated to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society Museum at Illawara Regional Airport (YWOL), New South Wales. Its distance record stood until 10 November 1995 when another Boeing airliner, a 777-200LR with Captain Suzanna Darcy-Henneman in command, set a new distance record.

Qantas' Boeing 747-438 Longreach VH-OJA, City of Canberra, on takeoff, 2011. (Aero icarus)
Qantas’ Boeing 747-438 Longreach VH-OJA, City of Canberra, on takeoff from Sydney, 1999. (Aero Icarus)

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 and 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).

Quantas’ Boeing 747-400 VH-OJA, City of Canberra, final landing at Illawarra Regional Airport, New South Wales, Australia, 15 March 2015. (YSSYguy/Wikipedia)

¹ FAI Record File Number 2201: Distance, 17 039.00 km

² FAI Record File Number 2202: Speed over a recognised course, 845.58 km/h

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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