Avro Canada C102 Jetliner - Operational History

Operational History

Two years later, the first prototype, CF-EJD (-X), began taxiing tests, and first flew on 10 August 1949, only 25 months after the design had started, and only 13 days after the first flight of the DH Comet. A delay caused by runway construction at the company's home Malton airport combined with repairs necessitated by external nacelle skin "buckling" prevented the Jetliner from being the first jet-powered airliner to fly. On its second flight, on 16 August, the landing gear failed to extend, and the Jetliner had to make a belly-landing. However, the damage was minor, and the aircraft was in the air again in three weeks.

In April 1950, the Jetliner carried the world's first jet airmail from Toronto to New York in 58 minutes– half the previous record (c.340 miles, 352 mph). The flight was highly publicized and the crew was welcomed with a ticker tape parade through the streets of Manhattan. So new was the concept of jet power that the Jetliner was made to park far from the terminal, and pans were placed under the engines in case they dripped any "self-igniting fuel." The Jetliner suffered a mysterious "cracking" sound on the trip and was forced to stay on, as the pilots refused to fly it back. This delay allowed it to be presented to a number of potential customers, where it was competing against considerably slower designs like the DC-6 and war-surplus DC-3s. On its return, (on the back of a train), the "cracking" problem was traced to the spar area around the engines, which was made much stronger. It was later learned the problem was actually too-close tolerances between the engine nacelle and the spar, and simply making a looser fit would have solved the problem.

At the time, in the mid-1950s, the Cold War was starting and the Canadian authorities were in the midst of expanding the military. Avro was involved in designing the first dedicated jet-powered, all-weather fighter for the RCAF, the Avro CF-100 Canuck. The project was somewhat delayed, although the company's continuing work on the Jetliner caused some controversy. After the prototype returned, it still had no immediate sales prospects, therefore C.D. Howe, (the "minister of everything"), ordered the program stopped in December 1951. The second prototype Jetliner, well on its way in the main assembly hangar, was broken up at that time.

Nevertheless, only a few months later, the enigmatic Howard Hughes first learned of the design and leased the Jetliner prototype for testing, flying it for a few circuits when it arrived in Culver City, California. He became a believer, imagining TWA and National delivering passengers from New York to vacation spots in Florida in half the time of the competition. He became desperate to buy 30 Jetliners, but Avro had to repeatedly turn him down due to limited manufacturing capabilities and overwork on the CF-100 project. Hughes then started looking at US companies to build it for them; Convair proved interested and started studies on gearing up a production line. C.D. Howe again stepped in and insisted that Avro concentrate on its Orenda turbojet and CF-100 jet fighter programs.

The project was almost restarted in 1953, when CF-100 production was in full swing, but this never happened. In 1955, TCA ordered 51 Vickers Viscount turboprop aircraft from Vickers-Armstrong in England. These were the first turbine-powered aircraft in regular service in North America. They continued in service until 1974.

Read more about this topic:  Avro Canada C102 Jetliner

Famous quotes containing the word history:

    We aspire to be something more than stupid and timid chattels, pretending to read history and our Bibles, but desecrating every house and every day we breathe in.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)