TheAvro Canada C-102 Jetliner was the world's first regional jet passenger plane. It was designed and built by Avro Canada at the A.V. Roe Canada, Ltd. plant in Malton, Ontario.
Though the Avro Jetliner was just 13 days behind the British Comet, it was years ahead of the Boeing 707, the Jetliner did not have the problems of the Comet and when you look at it you must ask why did Canada not back this great aircraft! If Avro had not fallen behind on the CF-100 production line and if the Korean war not been going on we may still have Jetliners flying today, but the story of the Jetliner is much like the story of the Avro CF-105 Arrow -- it is the story of broken dreams and lost opportunities.
The C-102 had been designed to the Trans Canada Airline (Air Canada) requirment agreed in 1946, which called for a 36 seat aircraft with a cruising speed of 425 miles per hour, a "still-air" range of 1,200 miles, an average distance between stops of 250 miles, with 500 miles as the longest let requiement. Alllowances were specified as 45 minutes stacking and flight time to a 120-mile alternate airport. Headwind was to be taken as 20 mph average, with 40mph maximum.
The Jetliner was built during the daytime, tested at night. Once in the wooden mockup stage, Jim Floyd said, "That nose just won't do." So they sawed it off, and built another within a week.
The first prototype, CF-EJD-X christened the Jetliner, first flew 10 August 1949, just 25 months after the design of the Derwent-engined verstion was started! The crew consisted of Avro UK Chief test pilot Jimmy Orrel; Avro Canada Chief Test Pilot Don Rogers; and flight engineer Bill Baker. The first flight was without any problems and the only problem in over 500 hours of flight occured on the second flight (16 August 1949) when the aircraft had to make an emergency belly-landing because the main gear would not extend (the damage was so minor that the aircraft was flying within three weeks).
By December 1950 the Jetliner had reached 39,800 feet and had exceeded 500 mph in level flight!
Howard Hughes (posing with the Jetliner) in Carmel, California.
Howard Hughes was so impressed with the Jetliner that he wanted to manufacture it under license at Convair and using it on TWA routes (after borrowing the Jetliner for his own personal use and evaluation), but the U.S. government would not agree to Convair devoting effort and space to a civil project in view of the Korean crisis.
The Jetliner broke every passenger transport performance record in the book during the route proving trials in North America in 1950--1951. (CBC broadcast of epic flights) The Americans were astonished at its performance.
By 1952 National Airlines had drawn up a contract with Avro for a small fleet of Jetliners. TWA were trying to get Avro to build them 30 Jetliners and the USAF had allocated funds for the purchase of 20 military Jetliners for jet bomber pilot and navigation training.
Despite this, the Canadian Government ordered Avro to concentrate on the CF-100 fighter production and "move the C-102 out of any useful manufacturing space in your plant". The Jetliner never did go into comercial use but was used as the aerial survey & photo platform for the CF-100 project, as orders were never placed, construction on the partially built secont prototype was abandoned. On 10 December 1956 the Jetliner was ordered destroyed, and after contacting the National Aviation Museum turned up no interest in obtaining the aircraft due to a lack of space, the Jetliner was cut up on the 13th of December 1956 with only the cockpit section surviving (in the National Aviation Museum in Ottawa).
On that day, the first Canadian Dream died... more was to come at A.V. Roe Canada, Ltd.
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