Re: HS Trident...VC-10 and BOAC

Date:         10 Jul 97 17:46:11 
From:         "jla" <>
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This is true of most airliners built in the U.K.  The VC-10 was the
ultimate in poor judgement by a manufacturer and abuse by the intended

One of the most elegant aircraft ever designed and built, the VC-10 was an
excellent aircraft from all standpoints.  Good range, comfortable, quiet,
magnificent to fly, short-field capabilities... everything the aircraft
needed to make it an excellent seller.  The great wing area gave the plane
terrific short-field operations and incredible lift.

But it was built specifically to BOAC standards.  They wanted a long-range
aircraft that could land at short or substandard fields for use on their
"Imperial Routes" to Africa.  It also had to be able to be used on
Trans-Atlantic service.  Vickers designed and built it, but it was delayed
over and over (as other airliner projects had been) due to BOAC's constant
changes.  The design finally took to the air and was a true beauty,
meeting, and indeed exceeding, all of BOAC's requirements for the jet.
They then stretched it to come up with the Super VC-10 with added capacity.

The aircraft are still flying as tankers today with the RAF (although to be
replaced soon), so the design was certainly worth the effort and has
withstood the test of time.

BUT...since it was designed with such rigid standards for one particular
airline, this limited the sale of the airplane to only those carriers who
would need it for similar purposes.  By the time BOAC got through with
their various changes, the aircraft was so late in entering service that
the 707 was now quite popular and BOAC ordered them as well.  And airports
all over the world by this time had updated their fields to support the
large, new 707's, which required a longer, stronger runway.  So the need
for the VC-10 to be able to use substandard, short fields was no longer a
requirement.  The added weight of the large wing and other design elements
demanded by BOAC reduced range and made it unattractive in comparison to
the longer range 707 Intercontinental.

The aircraft has been hailed as one of the greatest by all critics and
customers, with the exception of BOAC, who bad-mouthed the plane for no
apparent reason, thereby hurting any other potential sales that may have
come along.  An aircraft that exceeded all design requirements, was popular
with customers and crew alike, a beautiful, elegant design, and (I believe)
only 48 were made.  Truly one of the saddest stories about one of the
greatest jets.