Swissair’s first jet arrived in April 1960 when the airline took on several Caravelles originally destined for SAS. They joined Convair 440s on European routes and replaced DC-4s and DC-6s. Four arrived in 1960 and four more in 1962 with ICS ‘Uri’ being the first of the second batch. The Caravelles all survived into 1971, except one HB-ICV, having been supplanted and then replaced by DC-9s from 1966 onwards. ICV crashed in 1963 after an inflight fire with 80 fatalities and an Air France example was leased from 1964 until the DC-9s arrived. Three of Swissair’s Caravelles were sold to China Airlines in 1971 with HB-ICS becoming B-1850 and surviving until withdrawn at Taipei in October 1978.
For longer routes Swissair chose the DC-8 and the first arrived in April 1960, only shortly after the first Caravelle. Only three aircraft, HB-IDA-C, were delivered - all initially series 32s but later upgraded to series 33s. One was upgraded to series 53 status and a fourth aircraft (also a DC-8-53 and continuing the registration sequence as HB-IDD) was delivered in October 1963. The DC-8s started transatlantic routes on May 30, 1960 to New York. Despite the DC-8 acquisitions Swissair also had a keen interest in Convair's 880 though the order was subsequently altered to the improved CV-990.
Swissair ordered eight Convair 990s and despite the type’s many design issues and late service entry, which saw Convair lend a pair of interim CV-880s, the airline appeared to gain a genuine affection for what it dubbed the Coronado. The first aircraft HB-ICA joined the fleet in January 1962 and was followed by the other seven by April 10. Two aircraft were leased to SAS until 1966 and 1968 respectively. Operations took the type all across the Swissair network however gradually DC-8-62s supplanted them on the longer routes.
The CV-990s were popular with customers and pilots alike and proved reliable in service. Only one aircraft was lost and then through no fault of its own. HB-ICD crashed en-route to Tel Aviv when a bomb exploded onboard on February 21, 1970 killing all 47 passengers and crew. Eventually restricted to European services the 990 fleet was retired in 1975 with the final revenue service on January 6. Several ended up at Spantax but ICC was donated to the Swiss Transport Museum at Lucerne where, after a lengthy trip across Lake Lucerne on barge, she remains on display.
Back in late 2003 myself and my wife visited Lucerne and were lucky enough to get the opportunity to get up close to HB-ICC at the museum. Since then she has been raised up on poles high above visitors but back then she was closer to the ground:
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: