Like several South American operations the airline that would become Cruzeiro do Sul had German origins being setup in 1927 as Syndicato Condor. In August 1942, after Brasil joined the Allies, the airline was nationalised and its name changed. During the early 1960s the failure of REAL and the military government's forced closure of Panair do Brasil benefited the other airlines including Cruzeiro. Whereas VARIG was alotted Panair's international routes Cruzeiro gained much if its domestic operation and became the country's second largest airline.
Following Panair's closure the DC-3 fleet actually rebounded from 19 to 25 aircraft in 1967 whilst the airline also acquired Panair's 3 Catalinas. As you can see above repainting of the Caravelles wasn't very quick as this picture dates from May 1973!
Further new equipment was acquired in 1967 with the arrival of Japanese NAMC YS-11s, which replaced the Convair fleet. It seems 11 were operated in total though the first four were only on short leases from the manufacturer. From 1971 three new Boeing 727-0C3s gave a significant upgrade in capacity and capability.
Between 1971 and 1973 an eighth Caravelle operated with Cruzeiro, as PT-DUW. She was an ex-United aircraft (N1001U) and was unique in being fitted out as an aerial mapping / topographical survey aircraft. She was leased to the Cruzeiro subsidiary LIASA to map the Amazon basin in advance of construction of the Trans-Amazon highway.
1973 was not a good year for the Cruzeiro Caravelles as two of the ex-Panair machines were written off. First PP-PDV crashed on landing at Sao Luiz on June 1, 1973 and then PP-PDX skidded off the runway landing at Manaus on December 32. The rest of the Caravelles remained in service until being withdrawn in 1975. They were replaced by new 737-2C3 Advs and stored at Porto-Alegre. After years of storage PP-CJB was sold to Aerotal of Colombia as HK-1709X, though she never entered service and instead was used for spares.
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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: