In 1969 and 1970, three brand new widebody aircraft took their first flights. The Boeing 747, Douglas DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 TriStar ushered in a new era of comfort for long-haul journeys. A little known fact is that Qantas and Cathay Pacific almost ordered the DC-10.
Selecting the correct aircraft to operate your routes is quite important at an airline. Get it wrong and you could lose quite a lot of money, and in our capitalist world, nobody wants that.
Qantas Almost Ordered The DC-10
During the 1970s, Australia’s Qantas operated a fleet comprising of Boeing 747-238Bs and Boeing 707-338Cs, with the former gradually replacing the latter on international flights. Wellington in New Zealand had a short runway which was unsuitable for the jumbo jet, and with the retirement of the 707 looming, a solution had to be found.
Options were placed on two Douglas DC-10s, but in the end an alternative was found. Two Boeing 747SPs were sourced, with the ultra-long range jet placed on the 3 hour and 45 minute sector across the Tasman Sea. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. Eventually Boeing 767s arrived in the 1980s and the 747SPs were redeployed to the Sydney to Los Angeles route.
Cathay Pacific Almost Ordered The DC-10
Cathay Pacific was also looking for a Boeing 707 replacement in the 1970s. The Boeing 747 was thought to be too big for the airline, so they settled on the long range DC-10-30. They almost ordered the aircraft, until politics came into play.
Hong Kong at the time was a British Colony, so the UK Government suggested they order the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar instead, as it was powered by Rolls-Royce engines made in England. They decided to do just that, ordering two TriStars from Lockheed, in part because they judged the aircraft technically superior. It clearly worked for them, as they then picked up many examples second hand.
While Qantas and Cathay Pacific almost ordered the Douglas DC-10, Qantas did use one of them. It was leased from Martinair Holland from 24 December 1987 to 11 February 1988 as a wet lease to cover the busy Christmas and summer travel period down under.
It’s always interesting to see what could have been in the world of aviation. For example, if all the airlines that ordered Concorde had done so, we could be living in quite a different world!
Did you know that Cathay Pacific and Qantas almost ordered the Douglas DC-10? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.