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De Havilland Comet 4 Vickers-Armstrongs VC10

Convair 990 Coronado

Boeing B707 / 720
Douglas DC-8 Hawker Siddeley HS 121 Trident
Air Ceylon Propeller Aircraft Air Ceylon Home Page

De Havilland Comet 4


The de Havilland DH 106 Comet was the world's first commercial jet airliner to reach production. Developed and manufactured by de Havilland at the Hatfield, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom headquarters, it first flew in 1949 and was a landmark in aeronautical design.[5] It featured an extremely aerodynamically clean design with its four de Havilland Ghost turbojet engines buried into the wings, a low-noise pressurised cabin, and large windows; for the era, it was an exceptionally comfortable design for passengers and showed signs of being a major success in the first year upon launching.

However, a few years after introduction into commercial service, Comet airframes began suffering from catastrophic metal fatigue, which in combination with cabin pressurisation cycles, caused two well-publicised accidents where the aircraft tore apart in mid-flight. The Comet had to be withdrawn and extensively tested to discover the cause; the first incident had been incorrectly identified as having been caused by an on board fire. Several contributory factors, such as window installation methodology, were also identified as exacerbating the problem. The Comet was extensively redesigned to eliminate this design flaw. Rival manufacturers meanwhile developed their own aircraft and heeded the lessons learned from the Comet.

Although sales never fully recovered, the redesigned Comet 4 series subsequently enjoyed a long and productive career of over 30 years. The Comet was adapted for a variety of military roles, such as surveillance, VIP, medical and passenger transport; the most extensive modification resulted in a specialised maritime patrol aircraft variant, the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod. Nimrods remained in service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) until they were retired in June 2011,[6] over 60 years after the Comet's first flight.

Specifications (Comet 4)

Air Ceylon Aircraft

G-APDS De Havilland Comet 4 c/n 6419 1965-1965 leased

Comet engines

Air Ceylon De Havilland DH-106 Comet 4 - Kuala Lumpur - Sungai Besi / Simpang (WMKF) Malaysia, 1963

G-APDC flight from Ceylon to Singapore with a stopover at Kuala Lumpur.



Vickers-Armstrongs VC10



(Artist's Impression of VC10 in Air Ceylon color scheme)

The VC10 was based on a BOAC specification for a large airliner that would be able to operate economically on their 'hot and high' routes in Africa. The VC10/type 1100 configuration as settled was: accommodation for about 135 passengers in a BOAC two class layout (or up to 151 all economy class); a six abreast cabin with its cross section based on that of the V.1000 and (coincidentally) the same internal width as the DC-8; 20,000lb (89.6kN) plus thrust Conways mounted in pairs on either side of the rear fuselage; a T-tail (both of these a first for a large jet transport) and in order to meet the stringent runway requirements, a very efficient wing with leading edge slats, outboard ailerons, upper wing spoilers and massive Fowler flaps. A feature was the use of split control surfaces, each driven by separate power units managed by two autopilots, each monitoring the other. The result was a very high level of systems reliability which later allowed the VC10 to become one of the first airliners certified for completely 'hands off' automatic landings in nil visibility.

The initial model (which later became known as the 'Standard') was ordered in several versions not only by BOAC but also by Ghana Airways, Nigeria Airways, British United Airlines and the RAF (although the RAF 'Standards' had the wing, fin fuel tank and higher powered engines of the Super to offset the extra weight of their strengthened cargo floor and door). Studies into a higher capacity version of the VC10 were instigated early in the development program. The result of this, the longer and more economical Super VC10 was eventually only ordered by BOAC and East African Airways.

BOAC's orders for the VC10 were changed many times, settling on 12 Standards and 17 Supers, considerably less than the original 35 orders plus 20 options. Amongst the cancellations were 8 Supers which would have been built as a mixed passenger/freighter version with the large cargo door as had been developed for the Standard. This version eventually did fly as East African Airways bought 5 Type 1154s but the full potential of this 'combi' version was never fully exploited.

The total production run eventually totaled out at 32 aircraft for the Standard and 22 for the Super, not an impressive number compared to the monthly numbers at Seattle or Toulouse. In it's time the VC10 was the largest aircraft that had ever been produced in the United Kingdom, and although a very sophisticated design it completely lost out to the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8. The VC10 became the victim of several issues, the two main ones being the timing of it's debut and the Standard's compromise between performance and operating costs. By the time the Super's improved economics appeared it was already too late for the VC10 to claim any significant part of the airline market.

After its civil career, a large number of VC10s was bought by the RAF and converted to air to air refueling aircraft. The RAF fleet eventually totaling 26 aircraft. Even though some of these have by now been retired, the VC10s will fly on into the 21st century.

Air Ceylon Aircraft

A40-VL Vickers VC10-1101 c/n 814 1977-1978 leased


VC-10 plan

VC-10 parts

VC-10 cutaway

VC-10 cockpit

VC10 Engines

VC-10 GF

VC-10 GF

Vickers VC10-1101 A4O-VL (cn. 814) delivered Dec 1977, leased from Gulf Air and returned on Jan 1978



Bristol (Filton), UK - England on Apr 1978, Still in Air Ceylon colours after lease; In store awaiting conversion to RAF tanker.

Converted to VC10 K.2 standard and was scrapped at St. Athan in 2001.


BOAC VC10 with Air Ceylon name at Kuala Lumpur, 1968


VC-10 schedule



Convair 990 Coronado



The Convair 990 Coronado was a narrow-body jet airliner produced by the Convair division of General Dynamics, a "stretched" version of their earlier Convair 880 produced in response to a request from American Airlines. The 990 was lengthened by 10 feet, which increased the number of passengers from between 88 and 110 in the 880, to between 96 and 121 (depending on the interior). This was still considerably fewer than the contemporary Boeing 707 (110 to 189) or Douglas DC-8 (105 to 173), although the 990 remained some 25 to 35 mph faster than either in cruise.
American Airlines requested that Convair design an aircraft for coast-to-coast flights, able to fly nonstop New York to Los Angeles against westerly winds. They wanted somewhat larger passenger capacity than the 880, which was the smallest of the first-generation U.S. jet airliners. The 990 entered production in 1961.

One change from 880 was the addition of large anti-shock bodies on the upper wings to increase their critical Mach and reduce transonic drag. This allowed the heavier 990 to go slightly faster than the 880, cruising at about Mach 0.91, making it the fastest passenger jet when it was built. Originally, there were plans to use the bulges as fuel tanks, but during test flights the extra weight caused the tanks to vibrate excessively. Instead, the inner set of bumps also served a secondary role as fuel dump for the fuel tanks in the fuselage.

The engines were also changed to the uprated General Electric CJ-805-23s, which were unique in that they used a fan stage at the rear of the engines, compared to the fan stage at the front of the engine as found in the Pratt & Whitney JT3D that powered the 990's competitors. The engine was a simplified, non after burning civilian version of the J79, used in military fighters. Like the J79, the CJ805 was very smoky.

Like the 880, 990s were later modified with a dorsal "raceway" added to the top of fuselage to hold the wiring for additional instrumentation.

Specifications (Convair 990)


Air Ceylon Aircraft

HB-ICH Convair CV-990A-30-6 c/n 17 1974-1974 leased


990 plan

990 cutaway

990 cockpit

990 Engines

Rare picture of Air Ceylon Convair 990 at Singapore.

HB-ICH was the the 17th CV990 to roll off the General Dynamics/Convair production line at San Diego .... and first flew in SAS livery registered OY-KVA. It was then leased by SWISSAIR and upgraded to CV990-A at Zurich, then subleased (through General Dynamics) to SAS (SE-DAZ, "Ring Viking") with whom she served from April 1962 until December 1963. During her SAS service this aircraft was also operated in conjunction with THAI AIRWAYS INTERNATIONAL (HS-TGE, "Srisuriyothai") from May 17th 1962 until December 21st 1963 and supported a hybrid livery comprising of both SAS and THAI titles and logos on port and starboard sides. This aircraft then entered SWISSAIR service on March 27th 1966 (HB-ICH, "St.Gotthard" .... later renamed "Nidwalden"). During her SWISSAIR service this aircraft also fulfilled a number of short term leases with other carriers .... first to BALAIR from March 28th 1968 from whom she was also subleased to EL AL ISRAEL AIRLINES, then twice leased to AIR CEYLON .... the first during 1968 and again from August 1974 until September 1974. On November 1st 1974 the aircraft was withdrawn from SWISSAIR service and stored at Zurich. SPANTAX then acquired this aircraft on May 31st 1975 and operated her until September 1983 (EC-CNB) when she was finally withdrawn from service at stored at Palma .... having accumulated some 42,035 hours total flying time. This aircraft was scrapped at Palma during 1994.


990 NASA




De Havilland Comet 4 Vickers-Armstrongs VC10

Convair 990 Coronado

Boeing B707 / 720
Douglas DC-8 Hawker Siddeley HS 121 Trident
Air Ceylon Propeller Aircraft Air Ceylon Home Page

Whoever wants to learn to fly must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying!

- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche -









©alkva 2011