Airliner for personal use? (was: JOHN TRAVOLTA HAS A 707)

Date:         04 Jun 99 00:59:10 
From:         westin* (Stephen H. Westin)
Organization: Cornell University Program of Computer Graphics
References:   1
Next article
View raw article
  or MIME structure

"greg" <> writes:

> He bought a former quantas 707-138..Last -100 series off he lot..N707JT

I read this some time ago, and immediately thought "What overkill!
That much airplane for one person!". But that set me thinking: what old
airliner would I like to adapt for my personal transport, given the

Some criteria I keep in mind are:

o Uniqueness and imagination

o Availability (obviously somewhat at issue with the first criterion)

o Speed

o Range (after all, what good is having your own airplane if you
   wind up on JAL for that weekend trip to Bangkok?)

o Economy (both operating and purchase price: no new A340s need apply)
  (this just to satisfy the engineer's drive for optimization)

Some candidates:

o 707:
  + Readily available
  + Proven airframe
  + Service no problem
  + Good cruising speed (a bit faster than  many later planes)
  + Range

  - Fuel consumption
  - Old avionics

  Of course, if one could persuade Boeing to upgrade to E-6 specs
  and get the necessary certification for the CFM56's etc., that
  would reduce fuel consumption and update the avionics a bit;
  the Navy even talks of upgrading to a cockpit adapted from the
  737NG. The CFM56's would also have performance ramifications:
  the claim for the E-6 is not that it's faster or has longer range,
  but that its *altitude ceiling* is increased.

o 720
  + 707-like, so service, etc. should work
  + Higher altitude capability through reduced weight
  + Higher cruising speed. I know the 720 has wing-root fairings
    to increase Mach number compared to the 707-100, but did the
    707-300 surpass this?
  + Reduced payload not a problem, as we only are taking
    along a few close friends, right?

  - Rarity: might be hard to find a flyable one

o Convair 990
  + Uniqueness
  + Range
  + Possibly cruising speed
  + Engine commonality with the J-79 might help maintenance

  - Uniqueness: there seems to be only one 990 left in flying
    condition (at most).

o DC-8
  + Range
  + Available with CFM56 engines for better fuel economy
  + Still widely used, so service no problem

o Vickers VC10
  + Short runway performance (after all, we want to fly *anywhere*,
  + Looks. I have long considered the VC-10 to be the most graceful
    of airliners. Well, at least until I saw the unpainted Comet
    prototype on Marc Schaeffer's Web site...
  + Uniqueness
  + Possibility of retrofitting with 2 more modern engines? The
    RB211 started its flight testing on the modified left pylon of a VC10,
    replacing two of its original engines

  - Fuel consumption (worse than the 707 in its day, I believe)
  - Rarity: I think all the flyable VC10s are owned by the RAF.
    Maintenance would probably be a real challenge

o Various newer/smaller aircraft. The 727, DC-9, 737 would all fit in
  here. I suppose Caravelle also would. Range probably wouldn't be a
  problem, as payload would be light and there would be room to fit
  extra tanks. But then, most of these have already been used as
  personal aircraft.

o Bigger aircraft (DC-10, Tristar, MD-11). Well, that really *would*
  be wasteful, wouldn't it :)?

P.S. I also read that Travolta is qualified to fly the thing himself!
What fun!

-Stephen H. Westin
Any information or opinions in this message are mine: they do not
represent the position of Cornell University or any of its sponsors.