DC-8 Dedication - The First And The Last & Development May 31, 2020 10:30:36 GMT Falcon and walterleo like this
Post by aerofoto - HJG Admin on May 31, 2020 10:30:36 GMT
DC-8 DEDICATION - THE FIRST & LAST AIRFRAMES & DC-8 DEVELOPMENT
It's incredible to think that at least 8 examples of the DC-8 .... a jetliner conceived during the mid 1950's .... still remain operational today/61 years after the first example of these aircraft entered service .... and its even more incredible to think that DC-8 operations have even succeeded many of the more advanced 1970's and 80's era jetliner technology that was aimed at replacing these aircraft, but, which have, instead, long since succumbed to retirement/storage or scrapping .... whilst the DC-8 continues "flying on into world civil aviation history" during 2022.
In recognition of the outstanding "IN SERVICE" achievement I'm presenting this revised anniversary tribute/dedication to this fine first generation classic jetliner ....
THE FIRST AND LAST PRODUCTION DC-8 AIRCRAFT
Today .... 63 years ago .... on "MAY 30TH 1958" .... DC-8 SHIP ONE N8008D, C/N # 45252, L/N # 01, "the first production DC-8 aircraft", departed Long Beach, California, on its maiden flight .... and a legend in world civil aviation was born.
This first ever DC-8 flight was crewed by DOUGLAS AIRCRAFT COMPANY chief test pilot Hiemie HEIMERDINGER, co-pilot William MAGRUDER, flight engineer Paul PATTON, and flight test systems engineer Bob RIZER.
T/O weight for this debut/maiden flight was restricted to 198,000 LBS .... and the aircraft was rotated, at 128 KTS, after a T/O roll of some 3,250 FT. This historic event was witnessed by an ensemble of some 100,000 official and non-official spectators.
The T/O noise was later described by spectators as being "excruciatingly loud" as the aircraft's 4 JT3C-6 turbojet engines accelerated SHIP ONE down the Long Beach RWY, to launch the aircraft into the blue California skies, ahead of 4 plumes of thick jet black exhaust smoke .... which became a typical and distinguishing characteristic of early water/methanol injected turbojet engines of the late 1950's/early 1960's era.
DC-8 SHIP ONE remained airborne for 2 hours and 7 minutes during its debut sortie .... performing a shakedown run out over the Pacific Ocean, during which it was climbed to an altitude of 21,000 FT and achieved a cruising airspeed of some 350 KTS prior to landing at Edwards AFB, California, and from where all future DC-8 flight testing was conducted in advance of the types FAA certification .... which for the DC-8-11 was awarded on August 31st 1959.
The DC-8 was an extension of the famous DOUGLAS line of "DC" TYPE civil aircraft .... as well as becoming "the first" of what later became the equally distinguished DOUGLAS/McDONNELL-DOUGLAS line of "DC" TYPE jetliners too .... having succeeded the DC-2, DC-3, DC-4, DC-6, and DC-7 flight line .... to ultimately challenge BOEING and GENERAL DYNAMICS/CONVAIR for domination in the (then) new world market for first generation civil jet transports which began to transform/revolutionize global air travel from 1958.
From 1958 until 1961 DC-8 SHIP ONE was used in support of DOUGLAS's extensive flight testing program in aid of FAA aircraft type certification, and development of it's initial short fuselage DC-8-20, -30, -40, and -50 successors .... and which resulted in wingtip, wing chord, wing leading edge, wing slot, and a 1.5* (degree) cruise flap setting modifications being progressively applied throughout this line in order to address early under-performance issues evident with the original DC-8-11/12.
During 1960 DC-8 SHIP ONE was upgraded to DC-8-50 specification and used to flight test the first of the (then) new generation P&W JT3D SERIES fan-jet engines which powered all production DC-8-50 and SUPER 61/-62/and -63 aircraft versions.
DC-8 SHIP ONE first flew in fan-jet powered form on December 20th 1960 .... and was awarded FAA certification, as the DC-8-51, on October 10th 1961.
Beyond its DOUGLAS service life as a flight testing and development aircraft DC-8 SHIP ONE was eventually reconfigured with a standard PAX interior and commenced a civil career .... flying with a number of commercial operators (mostly under leases) throughout the 1960's, 70's, and 80's.
These included a DOUGLAS lease to NATIONAL AIRLINES (N8008D) from June 21st 1961 until May 26th 1962.
Then its sale to TRANS INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES (N8008D) on June 20th 1962 .... and with whom this aircraft remained until January 1967.
During its TIA service DC-8 SHIP ONE was also sub-leased to LUFTHANSA GERMAN AIRLINES (N8008D) from November 5th 1965 until December 1965 ....
.... and also leased to CANADIAN PACIFIC AIRWAYS (CF-CPN named "Empress of Santiago") from February 10th 1966 until January 10th 1967.
TIA eventually sold DC-8 SHIP ONE to DELTA AIR LINES (N8008D/Fleet # 800) and whom operated this aircraft from January 10th 1967 until March 23rd 1979 when it was sold to FB AYER & ASSOCIATES aviation brokers.
The aircraft was then leased to AEROMEXICO (XA-DOE named "Quintana Roo") from April 1st 1979 until July 1st 1982.
Upon the conclusion of its AEROMEXICO lease DC-8 SHIP ONE resumed its former US civil registration .... "N8008D" (although its Mexican identity .... "XA-DOE" .... was never removed from the aircraft) and was withdrawn from service, and stored at Marana, Arizona, USA, having accumulated some 60,918 hours flying time with 32,411 cycles.
It remained in long term storage at Marana until 2001. During this period the aircraft acquired "TAC COLOMBIA" titles, but, never entered service with the Colombian airline .... whom eventually sourced CARAVELLE jetliners instead.
FB AYER & ASSOCIATES then sold DC-8 SHIP ONE to FINE AIR subsidiary AGRO AIR (N8008D) on May 24th 1989 but the aircraft remained in storage at Marana.
Sometime during the late 1990's it was again sold .... to FINE AIR (N8008D/XA-DOE) .... whom acquired the aircraft for spares recovery in order to facilitate the maintenance and servicing of its DC-8-50F fleet. FINE AIR was merged into ARROW AIR during 2000, but, the latter, being a DC-8 SUPER 62F and SUPER 63F operator, had no requirement for DC-8-50 components.
Sadly, "this historic aircraft" was sold for scrap and eventually broken-up at Marana during 2001 .... rather than enduring a more dignified end of life existence as permanent exhibit within an aviation park or museum which it could, and perhaps should, have been afforded had its scrap value not exceeded, by some considerable margin, what most were able, or willing, to pay in order to ensure the preservation of "this historic jetliner" for the appreciation of both present and future generation aviation-minded communities.
Throughout its career DC-8 SHIP ONE was most easily identified by its original DOUGLAS AIRCRAFT COMPANY registration (excluding its period of service on foreign civil air registers whilst operating for both CANADIAN PACIFIC AIRWAYS and AEROMEXICO) .... if not by its original DC-8-10 type engine pylons which later supported P&W JT3D fan-jet engines from December 1960.
Between 1958 and 1972 DC-8 SHIP ONE spawned a family of no less than 8 distinctly different classes of DC-8 TYPE aircraft .... from the original short fuselage DC-8-10, -20, -30. -40, and -50 SERIES .... to the higher capacity and longer ranging stretched-fuselage DC-8 SUPER 61, SUPER -62, and SUPER -63 SERIES developments.
Within this line a multitude of DC-8 sub models of varying specifications/configurations and performance capabilities were marketed by DOUGLAS/MCDONNELL-DOUGLAS .... ranging from early turbojet to later fan-jet powered aircraft for medium range domestic to long range intercontinental type services .... and representing PAX, pure freight, and convertible PAX/freighter specific aircraft versions .... as well as the post production SUPER 70's SERIES upgrades of original DC-8 SUPER 60 SERIES aircraft that were re-engined with modern CFM-56 turbo-fan engines as a project mostly undertaken by CAMMACORP INTERNATIONAL (although UTA INDUSTRIES were contracted to modify some DC-8's for various carriers whilst other airlines undertook SUPER 70 conversion of their own DC-8 fleets) throughout 1980's.
A number of production DC-8-10, -20, -30, and -40 SERIES aircraft were also upgraded to later specification models of the original short-fuselage DC-8 SERIES throughout the 1960's .... or converted to pure freighters, as was the case also with many originally PAX configured SUPER DC-8 SERIES throughout the 1970's, 80's, and 90's.
A total of 556 DC-8's, of all SERIES, had been produced by DOUGLAS/McDONNELL-DOUGLAS between 1958 and 1972 when the last production aircraft .... a DC-8 SUPER 63 (C/N # 46163, L/N # 556) was delivered to SCANDINAVIAN AIRLINE SYSTEM (SE-DBL "Tord Viking") on May 12th 1972 ....
SE-DBL was operated by SAS .... and its SCANAIR holiday/charter subsidiary .... until May 26th 1989. During its SCANAIR service this particular aircraft was renamed "Bodil Viking" and supported 2 variations of the airlines livery.
It was sold to AEROLEASE (SE-DBL) on November 11th 1988 and leased back to SCANAIR .... then retired from SCANAIR service and returned to AEROLEASE (N797AL) on May 26th 1989.
During August 1989 it was converted to a DC-8 SUPER 63F pure-freighter and its original P&W JT3D-7 fan-jet engines upgraded with STAGE 3 compliant hush-kits. It was then sold to CF PROPERTIES INC (N797AL) on August 18th 1989 and leased to CF AIR FREIGHT .... then sold to NEW ENGLAND MERCHANTS LEASING CORPORATION on September 29th 1989 and leased back to CF AIR FREIGHT ....
It was then returned to GENERAL ELECTRIC CAPITAL CORPORATION during March 1994.
From April 1st 1994 this particular aircraft was leased to EMERY AIR FREIGHT and was returned to GENERAL ELECTRIC CAPITAL CORPORATION on May 30th 2000 then sold to the PROVIDENT BANK. It was then stored at Smyrna, Tennessee, USA .... and then finally sold to INTERNATIONAL AIR RESPONSE and with whom it is believed to remain in storage at Logistics Airport, Victorville, Southern California, USA.
DC-8 LAUNCH, SERVICE ENTRY, AND FIRST DELIVERIES
PAN AMERICAN WORLD AIRWAYS became launch customer for both the DC-8 and B707 when it announced orders for 25 and 20 aircraft respectively on October 13th 1955 ....
.... in what was undoubtedly a bitter/sweet deal that irritated both BOEING and DOUGLAS equally given that each had sought exclusive production contracts to supply aircraft to the airline. PAN AMERICAN acquired the longer ranging and heavier intercontinental DC-8-32 and -33 aircraft versions for over water operations and which flew with the airline from February 1960 until 1970.
UNITED AIR LINES became "the first airline in the world" to take delivery of a DC-8 aircraft (DC8-11 N8004U) on June 3rd 1959, but, DELTA AIR LINES became "the worlds first" airline to commence scheduled DC-8 services .... operating flight 823 between New York/Idlewild and Atlanta, Georgia, at 09:23 on September 18th 1959 ....
.... followed a mere 2 hours and 10 minutes later by UNITED AIR LINES which commenced its first DC-8-11 service between San Francisco and New York/Idlewild at 08:30 on the same day.
Both DELTA AIR LINES and UNITED AIR LINES operated these initial DC-8 versions on domestic routes across the continental USA .... with EASTERN AIR LINES DC-8-21's, and NATIONAL AIRLINES DC-8-32's, and NORTHWEST AIRLINES DC-8-33's quickly following their lead during January, February, and May of 1960 respectively ....
.... followed also PAN AMERICAN GRACE AIRWAYS/PANAGRA (a PAN AMERICAN WORLD AIRWAYS subsidiary which operated in conjunction with the GRACE SHIPPING COMPANY) which commenced DC-8-31 services on routes between the USA and South American ports from April 1960.
KLM ROYAL DUTCH AIRLINES, and SCANDINAVIAN AIRLINE SYSTEM, became the "worlds very first" foreign DC-8 operators during May 1960 .... both selecting the intercontinental DC-8-32 to service their long range/trans-polar routes between western Europe and Scandinavia to New York.
The DC-8-20 introduced airspeed enhancing low drag wing tips and lift enhancing LE wing slots that became standard features on all production DC-8's from L/N # 30 and which were then retro-fitted to DC-8-11's .... upgrading these aircraft to DC-8-12's .... whilst the DC-8-30 introduced a 1.5* (degree) cruise flap setting in order to improve high altitude cruise performance and which was incorporated into all production DC-8's from L/N # 33.
DC-8 FAN-JET POWER
No sooner had mid 1950's developed turbo-jet engines been adapted to the first DC-8's, B707's, and CV880's when jet engine development evolved into the turbo-fan era .... in the form of the RR CONWAY fan-jet engine .... which offered greater power, improved fuel economy, with less noise and smoke emissions than preceding turbo-jet engines, and which was used to power the B707-420, DC-8-40, and VC10.
The DC-8-40 was essentially a DC-8-30 powered by RR CONWAY fan-jet engines and featured increased fuel capacity for greater range. It also introduced a 4% wing chord extension and a modified/sharper wing leading edge promoting further increased airspeed performance .... and which was incorporated into all production DC-8's from L/N # 148 and then offered as a retro-fit for earlier model aircraft.
TRANS CANADA AIRLINES took delivery of the first DC-8-41 during February 1960 .... followed by the first DC-8-43 which was delivered to CANADIAN PACIFIC AIRLINES during February 1960 also .... then ALITALIA which took delivery of the first DC-8-42 during April 1961.
On August 21 1961 a DC-8-43 (bearing the DOUGLAS test registration N9604Z) earned distinction of becoming the first civil jetliner to exceed the sound barrier. In a sortie over the Askana Tracking Range, at Edwards AFB California, this aircraft attained a speed of MACH 1.012/662mph (TAS) during a planned shallow and controlled dive from FL520 .... and which was also an world altitude record for a civil jetliner too. This particular aircraft was later delivered to CANADIAN PACIFIC AIRLINES as CF-CPG on November 15th 1961 (named "Empress Of Montreal" .... Fleet # 602 .... and later renamed "Empress Of Buenos Aires" after its transition to CP AIR during May 1969) and with whom it served until March 17th 1980 when it was finally retired from service and sold to FB AYER & ASSOCIATES .... then on-sold to CONCORD INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES but stored at Miami, USA, where it was eventually scrapped during May 1981.
None of the US operators selected DC-8-40 due to the RR CONWAY engine being a foreign/British import, and therefore subject to US tariffs that could only have resulted in an already more expensive aircraft (per unit price .... since the B707, benefiting from a larger initial production run, due to the US government/USAF KC-135 program, was less expensive) becoming even more costly, and also because further advanced and US developed P&W fan-jet engine technology was also nearing completion during this period.
Availability of the higher performance P&W JT3D fan-jet engine from 1961 .... offering further reductions in fuel burn, noise, smoke emissions, and with even greater power too .... promoting further increases in aircraft weight (fuel capacity) and range and which also benefited the DC-8's B707 competitor as well. This .... combined with performance enhancing design modifications applied throughout DC-8-20, -30, and -40 aircraft versions .... resulted in the DC-8-50 which then became "the definitive version" among the original/short-fuselage DC-8 SERIES aircraft.
The first DC-8-53 was delivered to KLM ROYAL DUTCH AIRLINES during April 1961 .... followed by the first DC-8-52 which was delivered to IBERIA LINEAS AEREAS DE ESPANIA during May 1961 .... then TRANS CANADA AIRLINES which took delivery of the first DC-8-51 during November 1961.
DC-8 AIR FREIGHT
Despite its greatly improved performance the arrival of the DC-8-50 also coincided with a global slump in jetliner sales. The pre-1960's rush by many of the worlds principle airlines to modernize with jet equipment, in order to remain competitive, resulted in over capacity and a longer than anticipated recovery period. Therefore sales of both new DC-8's (and B707's) dwindled sharply between 1962 and 1964 as the airline industry awaited traffic growth before embarking on major fleet expansion programs.
During this period DOUGLAS even considered closing its DC-8 production line early .... and might have done so too .... had a niche market not been quickly realized. Just as the development of civil jetliners had transformed PAX air travel/transport around the world .... it also gave birth to a new industry dedicated to the carriage of jet air freight and to which the DC-8's versatility and lifting capabilities were ideally suited.
Higher gross weight DC-8-54 and -55 JET TRADER aircraft .... with strengthened or convertible roller floors and interior options (with capacity for up to 95,000 LBS of payload or 13 LD3 type containers), a 140 inch X 86 inch port side forward fuselage main deck freight door, and powered by even higher thrust P&W JT3D-3B fan-jet engines .... were developed by DOUGLAS in order to exploit this particular market.
TRANS CANADA AIRLINES took delivery of the first DC-8-54CF during January 1963 .... followed by the first DC-8-55F which was delivered to SEABOARD WORLD AIRLINES during June 1964 .... then JAPAN AIR LINES which took delivery of the first and ultimate version/high gross weight PAX configured DC-8-55 during
DC-8 SUPER 60 SERIES
By the mid 1960's evidence of the much anticipated industry boom was becoming more than apparent. PAX traffic and aircraft movements were on the rise again and air traffic congestion was begining to pose problems for airlines and major airports alike all around the world.
Larger aircraft with greater PAX capacity were desperately needed .... and prompted DOUGLAS to stretch its DC-8 by 36 FT 8 IN, whilst retaining the original/improved wing and P&W JT3D SERIES fan-jet engines of the DC-8-50, and which resulted in the first of a new line in the DC-8 family .... the "DC-8 SUPER 61" .... which first flew on March 14th 1966 and received its FAA certification on September 1st 1966.
Capitalizing on its DC-8-50 versatility, DOUGLAS launched the DC-8 SUPER 61 in pure PAX, convertible PAX/freight (-61CF), and pure freight (-61F) versions from the commencement of the new types marketing.
DC-8 production continued to lag behind that of the B707 though (BOEING also began to benefit from this industry-wide boom as was able to continue offering its B707 at lower units costs) .... despite significant airline/customer loyalty to DOUGLAS.
DOULAS had a distinct advantage however as BOEING had not designed its B707 with the same ground clearance and growth potential as had been designed into the DC-8 from the very start and which promoted such major increases/stretches of the basic DC-8 fuselage length .... although this same stretching process did impose minor payload/range penalties due to induced drag created by the lengthened fuselage.
The first DC-8 SUPER 61 was delivered to UNITED AIR LINES during May 1967 .... followed by TRANS INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES which took delivery the first convertible DC-8 SUPER 61CF during June 1967.
Though marketed by DOUGLAS in pure freight configuration none of the air freight carriers committed to new DC-8 SUPER 61F aircraft .... given that despite its greatly increased size the payload/weight capacity of this particular version was still limited to little more than that of the smaller DC-8-50F JET TRADER, but, with less range under MGW operating conditions.
As quickly as a recovery within the airline industry was becoming apparent, airlines by the mid 1960's were also seeking to carry more, further abroad, and by way of more direct point-to-point routings too .... requiring even greater range and lifting capacity. To meet these challenges DOUGLAS offered 2 further interim solutions based on the versatility of its basic DC-8 design.
The first of these developments was the DC-8 SUPER 62 .... a smaller aircraft than the DC-8 SUPER 61 featuring a modest 6 FT 8 IN fuselage stretch beyond the length of the original DC-8-10/-20/-30/-40/-50 SERIES aircraft, but, fitted with a redesigned wing featuring 3 FT wing tip extensions .... lengthened LE wing slots .... and additional fuel capacity, and redesigned engine pylons with P&W JT3D-3B fan-jet engines contained within stream-lined ducted nacelles. These modifications combined to further reduce drag and promote substantial increases in both MGW and range .... along with further minor noise reduction too.
The DC-8 SUPER 62 was also marketed by DOUGLAS in pure PAX, convertible PAX/freight (-62CF), pure freight (-62AF), and high gross weight (-62H .... powered by ducted P&W JT3D-7 fan-jet engines) aircraft versions. It first flew on August 29th 1966 and received FAA certification on April 27th 1967.
The first DC-8 SUPER 62 was delivered to SCANDINAVIAN AIRLINE SYSTEM during May 1967 .... followed by BRANIFF INTERNATIONAL AIRWAYS which took delivery the first convertible DC-8 SUPER 62CF during June 1967 .... then JAPAN AIR LINES which took delivery of the first pure freight configured DC-8 SUPER 62AF during December 1968 .... followed by the first higher gross weight DC-8 SUPER 62H which was delivered to UNITED AIR LINES during June 1969.
The second and final installment of DOUGLAS's interim high-capacity long range jet solutions was the DC-8 SUPER 63 .... a much larger aircraft based on the same 36 FT 8 IN fuselage stretch of the DC-8 SUPER 61, but, featuring the DC-8 SUPER 62 wing, pylon, with the higher thrust P&W JT3D-7 ducted fan-jet engines of the -62H (although 5 SUPER 63's were actually built with the slightly lower thrust ducted-fan JT3D-3B engines) .... intended to lift greater payloads and operate over ranges comparable to those flown by the DC-8 SUPER 62 albeit with similar minor range penalties that applied to the DC-8 SUPER 61 due to induced drag created by the stretched fuselage.
DOUGLAS once again marketed its DC-8 SUPER 63 in pure PAX (both high and lower gross weight aircraft versions), convertible parcel freighter (-63PF .... featuring a strengthened floor but lacking the port side forward fuselage main deck cargo door of the AF/F and CF SERIES), convertible PAX/freight (-63CF), and pure freight (-63AF) version aircraft. It first flew on April 10th 1967 and received FAA certification on June 29th 1967.
The first DC-8 SUPER 63 was delivered to KLM ROYAL DUTCH AIRLINES during July 1967 .... followed by CP AIR, which took delivery of the first of 5 lower gross weight DC-8 SUPER 63 aircraft ever produced (these were re later upgraded with P&W JT3D-7 engines though), during June 1967 .... then SEABOARD WORLD AIRLINES which took delivery of the first convertible DC-8 SUPER 63CF during June 1968 .... followed by the first pure freight configured DC-8 SUPER 63AF delivered to the FLYING TIGER LINE during October 1966 .... and then EASTERN AIR LINES which took delivery of the first of only 6 parcel freight DC-8 SUPER 63PF aircraft ever produced by DOUGLAS during February 1969.
With the evolution of the SUPER 60 SERIES .... DOUGLAS, and the DC-8, suddenly had no direct rival in the B707, or any other western aircraft type, and for a time the DC-8 found a niche within high capacity/medium range, medium capacity/ultra-long range, and high capacity/ultra-long range aircraft markets (it was also the worlds largest western-built aircraft at the time too) .... and which resulted in a surge of new orders for DOUGLAS as the industry boom continued into the 1970's, but, civil aviation was also by this time rapidly advancing toward the new bulk travel/wide-body concept of air transportation and an entirely different, more advanced, and comfortable class of jetliner in the form of the A300B, B747, DC-10, and L-1011 TRISTAR.
As the 1970's decade ushered-in a new era of modern wide-body jetliner technology it also essentially signaled the termination of DC-8 (and later B707) production .... although this by no means represented the end of DC-8 development.
DC-8 FREIGHTER CONVERSIONS
As larger, and more capable, DC-8 versions entered service during the late 1960's .... or were replaced by wide-body jetliners throughout the 1970's .... many older and originally PAX configured DC-8-20/-30/-40/and -50 SERIES aircraft were converted to pure freighters, as were many formerly PAX configured DC-8 SUPER 61/-62/and -63 SERIES aircraft throughout the 1980's and 90's too. The DC-8's versatility had once again prevailed to hilite the value of these fine aircraft .... and which ultimately ensured many DC-8's remained active around the world with an extended life as freighters.
DC-8 RE-ENGINING & HUSH-KITTING
Throughout the 1960's, and from the early 1970's also, 2 major factors also began to conspire against the operation of both DC-8's and B707's (and other pre-1970's jet-liners too) though .... and which equally influenced the development of all subsequent civil jet aircraft types that followed.
The first of these factors was noise and smoke/pollution. The earliest DC-8's and B707's were horrendously noisy, and their early water/methanol injected turbo-jet engines (this solution was used to increase the density of air passing through the engines in order to augment T/O thrust but also resulted in thick plumes of sooty black exhaust smoke) were also incredibly dirty, and thirsty too. Whilst later RR and P&W fan-jet engine technology became less noisy, cleaner burning, and more fuel efficient (by the standard of the times) .... DC-8's (and B707's) .... still remained very noisy aircraft. Equally as loud as these early jetliners were, if not more-so, was the rising environmental lobby against them, which since their entry to service had often, and quite vociferously, protested against aircraft noise generally .... and which, by the late 1960's, led to the introduction of noise curfews at most major airports that bordered on residential areas as well as the eventual, and progressive, implementation of staged noise regulations around the world too.
The second of these factors was the escalating cost of jet fuel .... commencing with the first/early 1970's world oil price shock. This imposition hastened the retirement of most of the very few CV-880 and CV-990 jetliners which remained remained in service by this time, but, particularly impacted the original/shorter fuselage DC-8's (and B707's) which, due to their smaller payload capacity, became even less even economic in the face of rising operating costs. Some airlines, dependent upon these aircraft, sought to reduce fuel consumption through MACH cruise/airspeed reductions and more rigid control over the use of air conditioning systems, whilst others, prosperous enough to do so, were motivated into replacing their fleets of medium/long range narrow-body DC-8's and B707's with larger/higher capacity, more modern/advanced and economic wide-body A300B, B747, DC-10, and L-1011 TRISTAR aircraft .... although this, in many cases, also resulted difficulties for some operators by creating yet another period of over capacity during the early 1970's. A number of major carriers actually burned their fingers by acquiring fleets B747's .... which they were later forced to dispose of due to being unable to adequately fill/operate these aircraft economically.
McDONNELL-DOUGLAS (as it had by this time become .... following its 1967 merger with the McDONNELL AIRCRAFT) elected to terminate its production of DC-8's during 1972 .... despite significant world interest remaining in these aircraft .... in order to make way for the production of its new, and superior, wide body medium/long range DC-10 (whilst continuing production of its popular short/medium range DC-9 SERIES too). By comparison BOEING was able to sustain its production of civil B707 aircraft until 1979.
During the late 1970's .... and despite an initial lack of enthusiasm by either McDONNELL-DOUGLAS and BOEING .... various independent studies were undertaken, in consultation with airlines around the world, in regard to addressing DC-8 and B707 noise. Re-engining these aircraft with quieter, cleaner, more powerful, modern, and even more fuel efficient CFM-56 or P&W JT9D turbo-fan engines was deemed the best/most effective solution .... at an estimated cost of some $12 million per aircraft conversion.
Other studies during this period also focused on the development of hush-kit and Quiet Nacelle options as a cheaper alternative to the more expensive re-engining proposal, but, which were simply intended to reduce an aircraft's noise footprint within the vicinity of any airport and without the benefits of reduced fuel burn and smoke emissions .... or the advantages of increased power and extended range.
By 1981 .... CAMMACORP, in association with CFM INTERNATIONAL and GRUMMAN AEROSPACE, had launched a re-engining program aimed at DC-8 SUPER 61, -62, and -63 aircraft only (the JT9D option was eventually cancelled due to reservations expressed by the FLYING TIGER LINE in regard to post T/O noise abatement/power reduction procedures whilst operating at high gross weights and which was less in favor of the P&W re-engining option) .... to replace their original P&W JT3D SERIES fan-jet engines with modern (but de-rated) 22,000 LB thrust CFM-56 SERIES turbo-fan engines and which resulted in these aircraft then being re-designated DC-8 SUPER 71, -72, and -73 respectively.
CFM developed the engine technology whilst GRUMMAN produced engine nacelles and the new/redesigned engine pylons required for the candidate DC-8 aircraft. McDONNELL-DOUGLAS, after initial disinterest in the project (it was keener to develop and market newer/more modern and advanced jetliner types), eventually provided engineering and technical support along with flight testing assistance in aid of the re-certification process for the DC-8 SUPER 70 SERIES aircraft .... all of which was managed by CAMMACORP.
The CAMMACORP DC-8 re-engining program commenced with orders from DELTA AIR LINES and UNITED AIR LINES .... whom still operated sizeable fleets of DC-8 SUPER 61's (already the right size for their assigned routes and with significant airframe hours remaining on these aircraft and which negated any immediate need for a more costly fleet replacement program .... despite the new twin-engine narrow/wide body technology marketed during this period being significantly more advanced) .... for the conversion of up to 13 and 29 aircraft respectively.
The first converted aircraft .... a UNITED AIR LINES DC-8 SUPER 61 .... first flew on August 15th 1981 and received FAA certification, as the DC-8 SUPER 71, on April 13th 1982 .... followed by FAA certification of the DC-8 SUPER 72 on September 17th 1982 .... then the DC-8 SUPER 73 on June 23rd 1983
History then repeated itself .... UNITED AIRLINES took delivery of "its very first" DC-8 SUPER 71 (N8092) on May 10th 1982, and which entered revenue service with the airline, operating San Francisco/Portland, on May 16th 1982 .... whilst DELTA AIR LINES had commenced "the first ever" revenue DC-8 SUPER 71 service, between Atlanta and Savannah, on April 24th 1982 .... followed by TRANSAMERICA AIRLINES which operated "the first" long range DC-8 SUPER 73 service, between Oakland and Shannon/Ireland, from July 2nd 1982.
The CFM re-engining program benefited DC-8 SUPER 70 SERIES operators in particular with significantly improved fuel economy, reduced field length requirements, less noise and smoke emissions (virtually smokeless), steeper climb, and higher initial cruising altitude capabilities along with substantially increased range too .... although the original certified MGW/payload limitations of converted/re-engined DC-8 SUPER 71, -72, and -73 aircraft remained unchanged.
The new CFM turbofan engines were lighter than the original P&W fan-jet engines, but, the redesigned engine pylon assemblies were heavier. Even so .... DC-8 SUPER 71 conversions of formerly DC-8 SUPER 61 aircraft still benefited most .... through elimination of the drag inducing over-wing/LE portion of their original P&W fan-jet engine pylons which were modified with DC-8 SUPER 72/-73 under-wing/LE CFM turbofan type pylon attachments .... resulting in less drag and improved range.
Further contracts for the conversion of DC-8 SUPER 61, -62, and -63 aircraft were quickly forthcoming from AIR CANADA, ARAMCO, ARMEE DE L'AIR/FRENCH AIR FORCE, DHL, EMERY AIR FREIGHT, EVERGREEN INTERNATIONAL, FLYING TIGER LINE, GERMAN CARGO, ONA, and other operators.
On March 29th 1983, and upon conclusion of a CAMMACORP marketing/sales tour through the UK, and Middle East, DC-8 SUPER 72 N8972U demonstrated the incredible range capabilities of these modified aircraft by flying Cairo/Los Angles "direct" .... a distance of some 8,300 miles .... in 15 hours and 45 minutes. Upon arrival at Los Angeles this aircraft still had sufficient fuel for at least another 1,000 miles of flight. This particular feat crowned the DC-8 SUPER 72 with a title of "the worlds longest ranging jetliner" .... at the time.
None of the smaller DC-8-50's were ever re-engined and only a few DC-8 SUPER 62's, were ever converted to SUPER -72's. Whilst the range of these aircraft, once modified, was greatly enhanced their lower MGW/payload capabilities made them less attractive candidates for the relatively high cost of conversion. Among the few conversions of DC-8 SUPER 62's that were undertaken though were aircraft operated by AIR TRANSPORT INTERNATIONAL, ARMEE DE L'AIR/FRENCH AIR FORCE, and a few VIP/charter operators located around the world .... each of whom utilized these aircraft in long range mixed PAX/freight, military transport/VIP air charter service roles.
Not all conversions of DC-8 SUPER 60 SERIES aircraft were undertaken by CAMMACORP .... since AIR CANADA and DELTA AIR LINES each undertook conversions of their own aircraft. UTA INDUSTRIES was also contracted to convert the aircraft of a number of other operators too.
Some 110 DC-8 SUPER 61, -62, and -63 aircraft had been converted to DC-8 SUPER 71, -72, and -73 specification (53X DC-8 SUPER 71, 7X SUPER 72, and 50X SUPER 73 aircraft) by 1986 when CAMMACORP began to close-down its Tulsa/USA based conversion line. More DC-8 SUPER 61, -62, and -63 aircraft might have been converted had cheaper Hush-Kit/Quiet Nacelle modifications not become available as promptly as was the case and had the implementation of Stage 2 noise regulations not been extended until January 1st 2000.
Although CFM-56 turbo-fan engines were temporarily fitted to a single B707-320C (re-designated "B707-700"), and test flown during late 1979, no civil B707's were ever re-engined with this particular power plant. The limitations of the B707 design (its lack of ground clearance primarily .... which increased the risk of engine nacelle ground contact during cross wind conditions) made CFM conversion of these aircraft less desirable as well as being more cost prohibitive (although significant number of B707 derived military C-135 TYPE aircraft were re-engined with CFM-56 power plants), and in any case BOEING was far more intent upon marketing its new/advanced twin-engined B757/B767 jetliners that were aimed at B707/DC-8 replacement. Instead many more DC-8-50, SUPER -61, -62, and -63 (and B707) aircraft, were fitted with Stage 2/3 compliant Hush-Kit and Quiet Nacelle modifications.
A B707-320B was later re-engined with Stage 3 compliant P&W JT8D-219 turbo fan engines (also earmarked for C-135 TYPE aircraft which formed the basis of the USAF J-STARS program), marketed by the SEVEN Q SEVEN GROUP, and test flown flew on August 21st 2001 (re-designated "B707-RE"), but, no DC-8's were ever fitted with this particular engine type .... and the USAF J-STARS program was eventually cancelled.
During 1984 CAMMACORP also developed a DC-8 panel upgrade that resulted in COLLINS type semi-EFIS and Air Data systems, along with HONEYWELL Laser Navigation Systems, and color Weather Radar technology being certified and installed on some DC-8 SUPER 60 and -70 SERIES aircraft (the first major panel upgrade applied to these aircraft since a DC-9 type panel combing was introduced to DC-8 SUPER 62/-63 SERIES aircraft from the late 1960's) .... and which flew into this new millennium among those DC-8's operated by both AIRBORNE EXPRESS and UPS.
THE DC8 IN PERSPECTIVE AND REVIEWED
Although fewer DC-8's were produced by DOUGLAS than rival B707's by BOEING .... and despite an often erroneous perception that the DC-8 must therefore have been inferior to the B707 or forced into a "catch up" game with BOEING .... "IN TRUTH" .... it was the DC-8 that actually influenced development of a number of aspects associated with the B707 and from the very beginning.
Based on its extensive/superior past experience developing civil air transports DOUGLAS had .... "from the very start" .... designed the DC-8 with growth potential in mind (a wider cabin .... promoting 6 abreast seating .... with increased capacity and/or mixed PAX/freight configurations .... and stretch-ability aided by the aircraft's greater ground clearance at its rear fuselage), and with greater versatility/flexibility than was applicable to the B707 due to limitations of the BOEING design (BOEING had not been a significant producer of civil aircraft prior to the late 1950's) which could not be economically resolved beyond the fuselage dimensions of its B707-320B/C.
This expansion potential promoted the ultimate line of stretched/SUPER DC-8 SERIES aircraft that resulted in a surge of orders and a brief mid to late 1960's market niche for DOUGLAS/McDONNELL-DOUGLAS, within the high density/long range world market for large civil jetliners .... until the early 1970's era service entry of wide-body A300B, B747, DC-10, and L1011 TRISTAR jetliners of superior capacity/size, comfort, and operating economics.
More DC-8's might have been produced had market forces and commercial factors not so critically intervened .... preventing DOUGLAS from launching its SUPER DC-8 flight line sooner than became practical .... along with its need to curtail DC-8 production early, despite a steady stream of sales for these aircraft, to develop and launch its wide-body DC-10 in order to remain a competitive/dominant force within the then developing new world market for large wide-body civil jet-liners.
BOEING's B707 program was primarily funded by its government/military KC-135 production contract, where-as DOUGLAS, having lost this contract to BOEING, had to not only fund its DC-8 independently, but, also had to fund its construction of a new facility, at Long Beach, California, in order to cope with anticipated DC-8 production.
DOUGLAS could therefore ill-afford to tailor its DC-8 design to specific customer requirements earlier during the aircraft's development .... beyond its initially offering the same basic fuselage length with varying power plants and weights. Nor could it launch the stretched DC-8 program sooner than it did either.
This ham-string situation was also further inflamed, to some extent, by airline over-capacity during the early 1960's (airlines ordering large quantities of new jet-liners in anticipation of a boom) and which resulted in a tapering of new aircraft sales during this period and a later than predicted recovery.
The Vietnam war also imposed difficulties/a crisis in regard the supply of aircraft components, which affected production, causing delayed deliveries of new DC-8 and DC-9 aircraft, and which additionally resulted in compensation payments having to be made to customer airlines due to late deliveries .... a situation which also impacted BOEING to some extent also.
Unlike BOEING .... DOUGLAS could not afford to develop and launch "a family" of short/medium range aircraft (such as the B727 and B737) either .... nor launch its smaller DC-9 and larger wide-body DC-10 projects independently .... and which are among a number of factors that resulted in the companies eventual merger with McDONNELL AIRCRAFT COMPANY during 1967 .... to form the McDONNELL-DOUGLAS CORPORATION.
It's possibly fair to say that events leading up to McDONNELL-DOUGLAS ultimately being absorbed into BOEING, during 1997, might actually have been set in motion by DOUGLAS's circumstances during the early to mid 1950's .... and before the DC-8 had even flown.
From the outset DOUGLAS initially sold fewer DC-8's to more customer airlines (the DC-8 was more expensive than the B707), but, as the competition accelerated, BOEING was more securely able to sell greater numbers of B707's to initially fewer customer airlines .... with competition progressing unequally and more in BOEING's favor as time advanced.
Although B707 production eventually exceeded that of the DC-8 by almost double (some 1010 B707's were produced by BOEING for both civil and military applications versus 556 DC-8's produced by DOUGLAS/McDONNELL-DOUGLAS), the "unique versatility and durability" of the DC-8 has seen it outlive the "civil service" of its BOEING rival .... by some 2 decades.
No B707's (or B720's) remain in commercial airline service today .... whilst at least 2 DC-8's continue operating freight, scientific research, and VIP type services around the world. Those DC-8's which are known to currently remain in active service are each CFM 56 turbofan powered SUPER 72 SERIES aircraft.
DC-8's may certainly now be considered "geriatric/jurassic jetliners" by the standard of today's civil aviation technology, but incredibly, they are still valuable and very capable assets in the service of their remaining operators .... in a world within which they've supposedly long been superseded by far more modern, advanced, and capable civil aviation technology.
Although the DC-8 is clearly now almost at the end of its operational existence .... and cannot fly forever .... it seems the luckiest examples of these airframes might remain in service for a little while longer yet, exceeding the previously stated estimate of date of 2015 retirement of the type by some 5 years ... so far.
Of 556 DC-8 airframes produced by DOUGLAS/McDONNELL-DOUGLAS between 1958 and 1972 the following aircraft are each confirmed to still remain "in active service" .... despite a number of other airframes which still remain in existence/in storage around the world ....
- DC-8-62H/F 9Q-CJL (C/N 45909 L/N 307) operated by TRANS AIR CARGO SERVICE
- DC-8-62H/F 9S-AJG (C/N 46110 L/N 487) operated by TRANS AIR CARGO SERVICE
- DC-8-72 N817NA (C/N 46082 L/N 458) operated by NASA (research aircraft)
- DC-8-72F N782SP (C/N 46013 L/N 427) operated for the SAMARITANS PURSE CHRISTIAN RELIEF AGENCY
- DC-8-73CF OB-2059-P (C/N 45990 L/N 375) operated by SKYBUS JET CARGO (stored at IGM Dec 2019 - 3 Aug 2020)
- DC-8-73CF OB-2158-P (C/N 46091 L/N 519) operated by SKYBUS JET CARGO
- DC-8-73CF N805SJ (C/N 46125 L/N 515) to be operated by SKYBUS JET CARGO (stored at MIA 14 May 2022 - delivery pending)
- DC-8-63CF 9S-AJO (C/N 46133 L/N 534) operated by TRANS AIR CARGO SERVICE
Back in the mid 1950's .... as the DC-8 was being conceived .... I wonder if Mr Donald DOUGLAS (Snr) might, then, ever have imagined that this particular product of his esteemed design/engineering team might remain in service "this long" .... or that the DC-8 would soldier-on for more than half a century to fly well into another millennium.