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Avro Jetliner

The Avro Canada Jetliner



That more than half a century ago in 1949, Canada had designed, built and flown the first jet passenger plane ever to fly on the North American continent?
That it flew within two weeks of the first jet transport to fly anywhere in the world?
That it had flown higher and faster than any transport plane on the North American continent?
That it was the first jet transport ever to fly into the United States?
That it flew on trails as far East as Quebec City, as far West as Los Angeles and as far South as Miami?
That it carried the first jet airmail ever delivered anywhere in the world?
That it flew for over seven years and broke all transport aircraft performance before being destroyed and made into frying pans for our Canadian kitchens?
That the project was canceled by a well-known politician on the eve of firm orders being received from both airline and military customers?
That during one month alone in 1951 it had carried 10 US Generals, 41 Colonels, the US Secretary of the Navy and his two assistant Secretaries, 4 Admirals, 7 Navy Captains, 8 Commanders and many other service and airline personnel?

      It was the world's first regional jet passenger plane. It was designed and built at Avro Canada at the Avro plant in Malton,Ontario.

       The prototype Jetliner first flew on August 10th. 1949. Powered by four Rolls Royce Derwent V jet engines, it reached speeds in excess of 500 miles per hour early in the flight test program. The production Jetliner would have been fitted with newer technology engines, would have carried sixty passengers and cruised at 450 mph.

       This represented the biggest single step in speed for passenger aircraft designed on this continent, at any time, before or since.

      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.

The Avro Jetliner
Photo Credit: Boston Mills Press

Article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronical Jan 12th. 1951

      "A commercial jet aircraft, built in Canada, has smashed all American speed records for aircraft of that type by flying from Chicago to New York in 1 hr and 42 minutes. Besides hurtling at 459 miles per hour, the airliner set a new altitude record for transports. This should give our nation a good healthful kick in its placidity. The fact that our massive but underpopulated good neighbour to the north has a mechanical product that licks anything of ours is just what the doctor ordered for our overdeveloped ego."

      Quote from the Civil Aeronautics Administrator:

"The Canadian C102 Jet was built to conform in every possible way with U.S. Civil Air Regulations".

Aviation Week.-- quoted " a noted American technician " as saying that it was his opinion that " everything that is wanted by an airline for maximum efficiency, combined with definite safety, is incorporated in this design ".

Harold Hoekstra- Former Chief Engineer --CAA. in letter to Jim Floyd--- " It was an education to work with you during the Jetliner period and was of value in my later work in CAA/FAA on the Boeing 707, DC8 and other turbine-powered aircraft."

Dan Beard --Chief Test Pilot of American Airlines., after flying the Jetliner --" You've got a good aircraft there-- I reckon it could be the DC3 of the jets".

GT Baker--President of National Airlines. " I send two of my most conservative people up to Canada for a couple of days to look at the C 102 Jetliner, and they come back stark raving with enthusiasm for it".

Bob Rummel-- Chief Planning Engineer for TWA. " The design of the Avro Jetliner was superb." ( from his book-- Howard Hughes and TWA )

Howard Hughes and the Jetliner
Howard Hughes wanted the Jetliner
and used it as his personal aircraft.

General Doolittle and the Jetliner
General Jimmy Doolittle

      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.

Photo from Howard Hughes

      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". After a number of years of flying in support of the CF 100 flight test program the only Jetliner was finally broken up for scrap in December 1956 after more than seven years of almost faultless flying and paving the way for the new generation of jet transports. Despite its premature demise the Jetliner brought respect and admiration for Canada's aviation capability and this was expressed very well by British aviation writer Bill Gunston in his book "Encyclopedia of commercial aircraft." which included this quote " The Avro Canada C 102 Jetliner was Canada's first jetliner. It remains an example of how a talented and motivated team could work together to produce a unique aircraft in record time "

CF-100 and the Jetliner



      The complexity of a modern jet airliner such as the C-102 is rather difficult to comprehend, but here are some facts in non-engineering terms which may make the task of designing and building an aircraft of this size a litte more appreciated -

      To design the aircraft structure and systems alone takes some 700,000 manhours - more hours then is required in designing the structure of a building such as the Bank of Commerce building.

      There are some 40,000 sketches and drawings issued to the shops to supply they with the necessary information, and this does not include the many thousands of drawings drawn up and not issued. The drawings issued use over one end a half million square ft. of blueprint paper before the aircraft even flies.

      In the electrical system of the C-102 there are over 7 1/2 miles of wiring, aver 16,000 electrical connections and over 1,200 electrical items such as switches, relays, condensers, meters, transformers, etc. The aircraft has more instruments then 20 Diesel locomotives.

      Its wings enclose a structural frame which is stronger then most highway bridges, and at the same time carry 2,000 galloons of fuel.

      It is designed to operate over a wide range of temperature changes, from about 30 deg below zero to 120 deg above. It is provided with an air conditioning system which will regulate the temperature and maintain better ventilating conditions than a deluxe theatre. One of the units for cooling the air has a cooling capacity of over 50 refrigerators, and yet weighs only 30 lbs, but the cost of such a unit is more then 200 refrigerators.

      It is equipped with radio and electronic equipment which would compare favorably with a small commercial broadcasting station. It has two complete transmitters capable of sending on forty different fixed frequences, and 10 receivers used for various navigation and communication purposes, together with a complete intercommunication system.

      It has more power than 160 average automobiles.

      It has a cabin in which sea level pressures are maintained automatically up to five miles above the earth. It has duplication of all essential services for safety.

      It takes more engineering work to design the electrical system for the C-102 than to design the electrical system for a 20-story building.


Scott McArthur.




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