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Roll-out of the first Boeing 747 - (Photo: Boeing)

Chronology of widebody airliners (1)


The US Air Force starts studies for a big jet-powered transport aircraft as a replacement for the C-133 Cargomaster, designated "CX-HLS" (Cargo Experimental - Heavy Logistics System). The USAF needs a much larger aircraft to supplement the Lockheed C-141 Starlifter, a military transport slightly bigger than the Boeing 707. The new aircraft should be fitted with high-bypass-ratio turbofan engines, which General Electric and Pratt & Whitney are developing at that time.


= June 1964 =
The US Air Force awards study contracts for the CX-HLS to Boeing, Douglas and Lockheed.


= 2 July 1965 =
A study group (Studiengruppe Airbus) is set up in Germany, with representatives from several German aircraft manufacturers. It begins to explore the chances of a European international airliner project.

= 2 October 1965 =
The US Air Force selects Lockheed as winner of the CX-HLS military transport aircraft contest. The CX-HLS will later become the C-5A Galaxy.
Boeing and Douglas use their knowledge acquired for their CX-HLS-work on studies for large commercial aircraft projects. This is the actual beginning of the widebody airliner era.

Boeing CS-HLX
Boeing's version of the CS-HLX - (Photo: Boeing)

= 23 December 1965 =
German aircraft manufacturers form Arbeitsgemeinschaft Airbus. The agreement is intended as a base for a German partnership in possible international aircraft projects.


= February 16, 1966 =
The French aircraft manufacturers Avions Marcel Dassault and Sud Aviation agree on proposals for a twin-engined widebody airliner named 'Galion' and seating 241-269 passengers.

= March 1966=
The Boeing board of directors decides to launch the 747 programme.

= March 1966 =
American Airlines says to be interested in a widebody aircraft smaller than the Boeing 747. American names its ideas for a two-engined airliner 'Jumbo Twin' and approaches Lockheed first. Later American also asks Douglas for proposals.

= 13 April 1966 =
Pan American World Airways announces a 525 million dollar order for 25 Boeing 747s, effectively launching the 747 programme and unchaining a rush of orders from airlines all over the world. The airlines want early delivery positions, because they fear that the Jumbo Jet will make the DC-8 and 707 look obsolete in the eyes of the travelling public.

= May 1966 =
At the 1966 Hanover Air Show, Hawker Siddeley (UK), Bréguet and Nord Aviation (France) present the HBN-100, a proposed 220-seat widebody airliner, a forerunner of the Airbus A300 design.


= 15 October, 1966 =
Hawker Siddeley, Sud Aviation and Arbeitsgemeinschaft Airbus ask the British, French and German governments financial backing for the development of a twin-engined widebody airliner based on the HBN-100. The project becomes known now as "A300". At this stage the proposed aircraft has a fuselage even wider than that of the Boeing 747.

= December 1966 =
Pratt & Whitney runs the first JT9D high-bypass-ratio turbofan engine.


= 1 May 1967 =
McDonnell takes over Douglas, forming McDonnell Douglas Corporation.

= Mid 1967 =
McDonnell Douglas presents preliminary designs of the DC-10-3, the DC-10-4 and the DC-10-J2/J3. Further analysis leads to a three-engine configuration. The DC-10-3 is a three-engined widebody aircraft for continental routes and a little smaller than the later DC-10-10. The DC-10-4 is a larger, four-engined aircraft, also for continental routes. The J2 is a twin-engined widebody camparable in size with the later Airbus A310 and the J3 is an intercontinental airliner with heavier engines than the DC-10-3 and is a little smaller than the later DC-10-30.

= 30 June 1968 =
The Lockheed C-5A Galaxy military transport makes its first flight.

= July 1967 =
American Airlines issues new specifications for a widebody airliner smaller than the Boeing 747. This time it is for an eight-abreast seating widebody trijet, able to cross the American continent between New York and San Francisco with a full payload at economics equal to that of the 747.

= 4 September 1967 =
Deutsche Airbus GmbH is formed as a successor of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Airbus.

= Late 1967 =
McDonnell Douglas presents the DC-10A for 230 and the stretched DC-10B for 309 passengers. The exact location of the third engine is still under study.


= 1968 =
British Aircraft Corporation proposes the BAC Three-Eleven rear-engined widebody twin airliner as an alternative to the A300 project of Hawker Siddeley and Sud Aviation. The airliner seats 270 passengers and is similar in size to the Lockheed TriStar and DC-10. Planned powerplant is the Rolls-Royce RB.211. BAC expects a first flight in 1972. The project is delayed several times because of lack of government funding. When the project is cancelled in 1970, BAC has already started building some fuselage frames in its Weybridge factory.

BAC Three-Eleven

= 19 February 1968 =
American Airlines announces the first widebody trijet order. It selects the DC-10 and signs for 25 aircraft plus 25 options.

= 29 March 1968 =
Eastern Airlines, TWA Trans World Airlines and Air Holdings Company sign commitments for a total of 144 Lockheed L-1011 TriStar aircraft. Eastern orders 33 plus 11 options and TWA orders 25 plus 25 options. Air Holdings Company, a British firm established to sell or lease TriStars to non-US airlines, signs for 30 orders plus 20 options.

= 2 April 1968 =
Delta Air Lines orders 24 TriStars. Lockheed takes the lead over McDonnell Douglas, which now needs very urgently an order from a big airline to launch the DC-10.

= 26 April 1968 =
McDonnell Douglas launches the DC-10 after an order of United Airlines for 30 aircraft plus 30 options.

= 30 September 1968 =
The first Boeing 747-100 rolls out of the factory.

= 29 October 1968 =
Northwest Orient Airlines signs for the Pratt & Whitney powered, long-range version of the DC-10, the DC-10-20, later to become DC-10-40, with an order for 14 aircraft plus 14 options.

= 25 November 1968 =
US carrier Trans International Airlines orders the DC-10-30F(CF), with CF6-50 engines. TIA is the first customer for the DC-10-30 and the convertible freighter (CF) version.

= December 1968 =
The 267-seat A300 is scaled down to the smaller A300B with 252 seats.


= 9 February 1969 =
The first-ever widebody jetliner flies. The Boeing 747-100 takes to the air from Everett Paine Field.

Boeing 747-100 first flight

First flight of Boeing 747-100. (Photo: Boeing)

= May 1969 =
Lockheed arranges a 400 million dollar credit line to ensure the continuation of the L-1011 programme. Lockheed faces cost-overruns with the C-5A Galaxy programme, which is being developed on a fixed-price contract. Other problems for the aircrft manufacturer are high inflation, the cancellation of the promising Cheyenne helicopter project and development problems with Rolls-Royce's RB.211 engine, the sole power source for the TriStar.

= 29 May 1969 =
In a mock-up of the A300B fuselage at the Paris Air Show, the transport minister of France and the minister of finance of Germany sign an agreement for the realisation of the Airbus A300B. The text is also signed by Sud Aviation and Deutsche Airbus.

= 7 June 1969 =
Four European airlines, KLM, SAS, Swissair and UTA (the so-called 'KSSU-Group') launch the passenger version of the DC-10-30. This first non-US order for the DC-10 comprises 23 firm orders plus 12 options.

= 30 December 1969 =
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certifies the 747-100 for commercial service.


Boeing 747 staircase
(Photo: Boeing)

= 21 January 1970 =
The Boeing 747-100 enters commercial service with Pan American World Airways between New York and London, offering twice as many seats as the earlier Boeing 707 on this route. Main deck and upper deck are connected by a spiral staircase remembering the Boeing Stratocruiser. Some airlines install a lounge at the upper deck.

= 23 July 1970 =
McDonnell Douglas rolls out the first DC-10 from the factory at Long Beach.

= 29 August 1970 =
The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 takes off for the first time for a 3 hours and 26 minutes flight from Long Beach to Edwards Air Force Base.

= 1 September 1970 =
Rollout of the first Lockheed L-1011 TriStar at Palmdale.

Lockheed TriStar

The first Lockheed TriStar in the factory at Palmdale. (Photo: Lockheed)

= 10 September 1970 =
The first Boeing 747-200 rolls out of the factory.

= 11 October 1970 =
First flight of the first Boeing 747-200.

= 16 November 1970 =
The Lockheed TriStar makes its maiden flight from Palmdale. The aircraft is in the air 2 hours and 30 minutes.

= December 1970 =
After years of extensive studies by European aircraft manufacturers, the consortium Airbus Industrie is set up in Paris as a 'groupement d'intérêts écononomique'. Shareholders are Aérospatiale and Deutsche Airbus.

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