The Convair 990 was an unmitigated disaster for the Convair Division of General Dynamics. A product of a misguided attempt to compete against Boeing and Douglas, which led to almost suicidal behavior from the manufacturer in selling a paper aeroplane on staggeringly unfavourable terms. American Airlines, the launch customer barely wanted the aircraft but nonetheless the 990 proved strong and reliable in service. Sadly, this was not enough to save its career at AA.
American Airlines is renowned for keeping its classic Red, White and Blue scheme from 1968-2013 but the livery before it didn't have such a long-term impact. Whilst investigating some aspects of American's history I chanced across some more information on the Astrojet scheme that pre-dated the 1968 livery and so I thought I'd pull together a quick post on the topic.
Nowadays if you are an airline operating within the US domestic market and you wish to serve a route pair you simply do just that, after relatively little fuss and bother, but prior to 1978, when the US market was regulated by the Civil Aeronautics Bureau (CAB), starting new routes was a marathon process. Indeed, most of the time getting permission to start a new route, especially if there was any competition involved, was a non-starter. Whence the regulated period threw up a selection of idiosyncratic practices that made sense then but look a bit weird today. One of these was the concept of interchange services.
The Douglas DC-4 originated from the unrelated first DC-4 (which was renamed the DC-4E) that had proved too complicated and lacking in performance prior to World War Two. The advent of the war interrupted the new DC-4s use as a commercial airliner and after the first prototype was constructed nearly 1,170 came off the production lines for the military in a large number of variants. The basic types were named the C-54 Skymaster (for the USAAF) and the R5D (for the US Navy).
The Fokker 100 (or F28-0100) was, Dutch manufacturer, Fokker's next generation of its popular and steady, if not spectacular, selling F28 series. The F28 was a fine aircraft well ahead of its time pre-dating true regional jets by nearly thirty years. The type was operated worldwide (especially in Australia, Canada and Europe) but usually in only small numbers. Its maximum seating capacity in the extended 4000 series was 85 and by the 1980s the basic design was in need of renewal. Fokker accomplished this by creating a new wing, replacing the Rolls-Royce Spey engines with new Tays and stretching the fuselage to seat up to 107 passengers.
In the early 1980s American ordered the first of what was to be 280 MD-80s (nicknamed Super 80s in service but informally known as Mad Dogs) to begin replacing its 727 fleet, with the first (N203AA) arriving in May 1983. Deliveries ran until August 1992 and no other type defined American so much throughout the 80s and 90s.
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: