Trans Canada Airlines was one of only three airlines that ordered the DC-8-40 with Rolls Royce Conway engines (the others were Alitalia and Canadian Pacific). They entered service on transcontinental routes in April 1 1960 followed by international sectors on June 1.
Four DC-8-41s (CF-TJA-D), four DC-8-42s (CF-TJE-H) and three DC-8-43s (CF-TJJ-TJK) arrived up to December 16 1961. The series 40s with their older engines were the first DC-8s to leave the fleet being withdrawn from September 1975 to June 1979.
TCA returned to Douglas when it became the launch customer for the Jet Trader freighter variant which it called the DC-8-54CF (Convertible Freighter). Eight were delivered from April 1963 with the last few being delivered in Air Canada colours. The series 54s were operated in a mixed passenger/cargo combi configuration until they were converted to pure freighters in the 1970s.
Air Canada received its first stretch eight in September 1967 when CF-TJT, a series 61, arrived. She was followed by seven more (CF-TJU-Z) before deliveries switched over to the more capable series 63 in February 1969. Thirteen of this type (CF-TIK-S & U-X) arrived forming the backbone of the long-haul fleet well into the 1970s even after the arrival of 747s, in 1971, and Tristars, in 1973. I assume CF-TIT was omitted for obvious reasons!
CF-TIL was the second series 63 and was re-registered as C-FTIL in 1974 and stored in 1983, not being converted to a series 73 like several of her sisters. Sold to ATASCO leasing in 1985 as N868BX she joined Burlington as a freighter in 1986 and passed through their ownership until they were BAX Global / ATI. She was withdrawn in December 2004. Her last operator was Heavylift Cargo as A6-HLA and she was stored in 2010.
In between the delivery of the DC-8-61s and DC-8-63s Air Canada received a trio of short DC-8-53s registered CF-TIH-J. The last of these was lost at Toronto in a fire whilst refuelling in June 1973 but the other pair carried on until being withdrawn in 1980. By now C-FTII the below aircraft was broken up at Montreal in 1982. Here she is seen wearing the updated red cheatline scheme, with red titles and without the black anti-glare shield which was introduced in 1977.
Apparently the two series 53s had poorly operating auto-pilots and were known as "Disco Duck" and "Waltzing Matilda" with reference to the gyrations at altitude. They operated Air Canada's last short DC-8 passenger services but the remaining DC-8-54 freighters out lasted them just and weren't gone until 1984 (two had been lost - in 1963 and 1967 respectively).
By 1983 Air Canada was suffering from the global recession and in 1982 it made a huge loss of $32.6 million, its first since 1976, whilst passenger traffic was down 21%. The DC-8s were being retired as quicky as possible, though there replacement with new Boeing 767s was hampered by a pay dispute with pilots who wanted to be paid more for flying the widebodies. The last DC-8 was retired from passenger service on April 23, 1983. Not only were the DC-8s comparatively fuel inefficient but new noise pollution legislation would have made them illegal by 1985. Most of the DC-8s were parked in the desert though six of the DC-8-63s were successfully converted to freighters and then re-engined as DC-8-73s. The series 73s re-entered service in November 1983 and served for just over a decade until October 1994.
In total Air Canada operated 42 factory delivered DC-8s as well as a pair of series 71Fs it leased for six months in late 1983. I'm afraid that's it for Air Canada for now as I don't own any other models at present. Maybe in the future someone will release a decent Tristar?
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: