Special Sub-Topic: The World's First Purpose-Built Commercial Jet Air
|The world's first commercial jet-powered airliner took to the sky in 1949, just four years after the end of the Second World War. Which aircraft company designed and built this landmark aircraft?|
de Havilland. The de Havilland Aircraft Company was a British aviation manufacturer founded in 1920 by Geoffrey de Havilland. The De Havilland company were responsible for many well known aircraft designs, including the Tiger Moth.
Boeing is a US aircraft manufacturer, producing both civil and military aircraft. Originally founded in 1916 as the Pacific Aero Products Co, the company became Boeing in 1917. It's almost certain that anyone who travels on commercial aircraft will have flown in a Boeing.
The Douglas Aircraft Company was founded in the US in 1921 and later became known as McDonnell Douglas after merging with McDonnell Aircraft. McDonnell Douglas is now part of Boeing's Commercial Airplanes division.
The Lockheed Aircraft Company was originally known as the Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company. It then became the Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company, named after one of its founders and was located in California. In 1926, the name was changed again to the Lockheed Aircraft Company. Lockheed merged with Martin Marietta in 1995 to become Lockheed Martin.
|What was the name given to the world's first commercial jet airliner?
Comet. The de Havilland Aircraft Company christened the aeroplane the "Comet". Prototype DH.106 Comet first took to the sky on 27 July 1949, and the flight lasted 31 minutes.
The 707 was a commercial passenger jet airliner developed by Boeing in the early 1950s and was commercially successful during the 1960s and 70s.
The 707 established Boeing as one of the largest manufacturers of passenger aircraft.
The Constellation or "Connie" was a piston engine airliner built by the Lockheed Aircraft Company. Known for its distinctive three fin tail configuration, the Connie was known for its transatlantic passenger service, but became obsolete with the arrival of jet powered commercial aircraft.
The Lancastrian was a another piston engine aircraft, built by the British aircraft company Avro. The Lancastrian was a modified version of the WWII heavy bomber, the Lancaster.
|The invention and development of the jet engine came to revolutionise commercial air travel. A gentleman with the first name of Frank is credited with inventing this simple, but very significant means of powering aircraft. What was his family name?
Whittle. Frank Whittle (1907-1996), was a British Royal Air Force officer and invented the jet engine in 1932 while serving in the air force. Despite many challenges, including an initial lack of interest from the British government, Whittle went on to form Power Jets Limited, a company that built a running prototype jet engine in 1937.
|Design of the the first commercial jet airliner was under Ronald Bishop who had been responsible for the Mosquito, the famous WWII fighter bomber constructed of wood.|
t. The de Havilland Mosquito was known for its versatility and was the fastest operational aircraft in the world at the time of its introduction in 1941. It was powered by two Rolls Royce Merlin engines, the same engine used in the Supermarine Spitfire and the Mustang. Also known as the "Mossie", some referred to it as "The Wooden Wonder" or "The Timber Terror" due to the fact that it was primarily constructed of laminated plywood.
|The design of the the first commercial jet airliner is still visually striking today. This mainly due to the positioning of the engines, which these days is not common in medium to large commercial airliners. What was different compared with today's airliners?|
Engines were buried in the wings. The Comet sported two pairs of de Havilland Ghost 50 Mk1 turbojet engines which were buried in the wings close to the fuselage to reduce drag.
This meant extra weight was carried due to the need for armour in the area around the engines, in case of engine explosion.
Aircraft such as the Lockheed TriStar featured tail mounted power plants, but wing pod mounted engines are now most common in medium to large commercial passenger aircraft.
Pod mounted engines have the advantage of being separate from the wing therefore reducing the risk of catastrophic structural failure if the engine was to catch fire
|In May 1951 the airliner took off to embark on the world's first commercial jet flight with fare-paying passengers. It quickly became a success. What was its first destination?|
Johannesburg. The first flight was from London to Johannesburg in South Africa.
Bahrain was the first scheduled destination of the British Airways Concorde, in 1976
In 1927, a slightly slower aircraft touched down in Paris, France. Charles A. Lindbergh made the worlds first solo non-stop transatlantic flight in the "Spirit of St. Louis" The flight from New York to Paris took 33 hours, 30 minutes
|After a positive beginning, a series of unexplained crashes took place. The aircraft appeared to have broken up in flight and this resulted in all aircraft in question being grounded for extensive testing in an attempt to discover what was happening. The testing involved the use of a very large water filled tank. Eventually, the problem was found: metal __________ .|
fatigue. The then British Ministry of Civil Aviation conducted tests using a Comet submerged in a huge water tank. The water pressure inside the aircraft was raised to a level that simulated the air pressure encountered at 35,000 feet and hydraulic jacks simulated the flexing that would normally occur in aircraft wings during flight. After several thousand hours of testing, a crack occurred in a corner of the escape hatch window. Such a failure at altitude would have led catastrophic decompression, leaving no hope for the aircraft.
|It was found that the design of aircraft's oval windows were to blame for the disasters.|
f. When a large section of Comet was recovered from the sea, the results of the testing were corroborated. A crack was found in the corner of a navigation window that was located on top of the fuselage. The window was square, as was the escape hatch window. It was concluded that stress at the corners of the windows eventually would lead to metal fatigue and structural failure.
|Which aircraft manufacturer gained a commercial advantage due to the loss of confidence after the crashes and subsequent grounding?|
Boeing. After extensive investigations to find the cause of the structural failure, the Comet was redesigned with oval windows and re-entered service. By then, the Boeing 707 was becoming more and more popular and orders for the Comet fell, the last being delivered in 1964.
|The unfortunate accidents ultimately benefited all passengers and aircraft manufacturers in terms of aircraft safety, but at a high price. The hard learned lessons contributed to the demise of a once thriving industry in a country that gave much to the world of aviation. However, the first commercial jet airliner is still flying today, but with what name?|
Nimrod. Major modifications of the Comet for military use led to the birth of the Nimrod. Intended for maritime patrol use, the Nimrod entered service with the RAF in 1969. A few still are in service and are due to be retired in the near future.
The Vickers Viscount was a British turboprop airliner, the first of its type in the world. It first flew in 1948.
Produced during the Cold War, the Handley Page Victor was a British jet bomber with nuclear capabilities.
Operated by the Royal Air Force from 1953 until 1984, the Avro Vulcan was a delta wing jet bomber that was also responsible for the UK's nuclear deterrent during the Cold War. A striking aeroplane visually, one example has been recently restored to airworthiness at great expense for public display flights
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