Thursday, July 23, 2020

A Comet Tale

With much of the Boeing 737 Max 8 fleet ordered to stand down for the time being due to two hull-losses seemingly attributable to the same malady, I was reminded of a similar incident from the mid 1950s.

The British de Havilland DH-106 "Comet" was the world's first operational commercial jetliner. It had entered service in 1952 with BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation, now British Airways) and things looked good for the revolutionary aircraft. Unfortunately, between May of 1953 and April of 1954, three machines were lost to apparent metal fatigue: two from BOAC and one from South African Airways. The entire Comet fleet was grounded for what turned out to be four years.

What happened in the interval was that William Boeing's company was able to get its own Model 707 jetliner up to speed. Commercial aviation history had been changed.


First posted as "A Twist of Commercial Aviation Fate" on March 13, 2019.

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