Re: Prototype airliners; what is their fate?

Date:         25 Jan 98 03:27:30 
From: (Don Stokes)
Organization: Daedalus Consulting
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In article <airliners.1998.161@ohare.Chicago.COM>,
Karl Swartz <kls@ohare.Chicago.COM> wrote:
>>What happens to airliner prototypes? Do they eventually
>It depends.  If it's a true prototype, it may be substantially different
>from production models, in ways that make it undesireable or perhaps not
>certifiable.  For example, the 707 prototype (the 367-80) has a different
>fuselage width than a standard 707.  At best, it would have been an
>oddball in an airline fleet.

I suspect upgrading the 367-80 to airliner standard would have been a
fairly major undertaking.  As it was, the Dash-80 was pretty thoroughly
abused by Boeing as a testbed for all sorts of weird stuff -- engine
testbed, several flap configurationd, rear engine mounting (for the 727)
are just a few of the things the Dash-80 had done to it.

The first 747 (RA-001) saw quite a bit of service as an engine testbed,
including for the 777 (used to test fly the PW4084, and I think the RR
engines; GE bought their own 747 to test the GE90).

>>How many prototypes are usually needed till production
>Rarely more than one for commercial airliners, except for something
>really exotic like Concorde.

Concorde was a research programme masquerading as a commercial airliner
development.  All up, there were two "prototypes" (001 and 002) and two
"pre-production" (01 and 02) aircraft, plus two static test aircraft.
In addition, two production aircraft, F-WTSB (201) and G-BBDG (202), were
retained by the manufacturers.  I can't think of any other commercial
aircraft programme where anything like that number of aircraft were built
that did not ultimately enter service.

BTW: F-WTSB had sidestick controls retrofitted to it at one stage to test
the configuration for Airbus -- the A320 *wasn't* the first fly-by-wire
commercial airliner...

Don Stokes, Networking Consultant  +64 25 739 724
Network Design, Cable Plans, LANs, WANs, Radio Networks, Internet Consulting