The Last of the Clippers: The Convair 1010

For your enjoyment this April 1st, and in conjunction with TimothyC, we proudly present:

The Last of the Clippers: The Convair 1010
A wikibox timeline


The Convair 1010 is an American turbofan-powered supersonic transport (SST) aircraft that was operated until 2015. Derived from the B-58 Hustler bomber, the Convair 1010 had a maximum speed over twice the speed of sound at Mach 2.4 (1840 mph or 2,963 km/h), with seating for 52 passengers. First flown in 1967, the Convair 1010 entered service in 1969 and continued flying for the next 46 years. It is one of the original three supersonic transports to have operated commercially; the other two being the Anglo-French Concorde and the Soviet-built Tu-144. The smallest but fastest of the initial three supersonic transports, the Convair 1010 was intended as a flying testbed for operations of a larger and even faster American supersonic transport, the Boeing 2707, and optimized for domestic American supersonic transport. However, the more advanced aircraft was cancelled in 1971 with only two prototypes partially completed, and domestic American supersonic flights were banned the same year. Forty-one Convair 1010 airframes were built, thirty-seven customer aircraft and four flight test aircraft, two of which were later operated by NASA. Pan American World Airways (PanAm) and its successor Delta Air Lines were the main airlines to purchase and fly the Convair 1010, earning it the unofficial nickname of the “Last Clipper,” though several other airlines at one point operated small fleets of the Convair 1010, including Japan Airlines, Air India, and Virgin Sonic. IranAir was the last airline to retire the type. Two aircraft, designated VC-7A by the United States Air Force, were often operated as Air Force One on overseas diplomatic trips, sharing the call sign with two Boeing VC-25A…

Early Studies


Convair originally proposed the conversion of the B-58 Hustler for passenger airliner service in November 1960, in a three-phase program which would have seen operations of the B-58 in simulated overland supersonic flights, the modification of a B-58 munitions/fuel pod into a small passenger cabin to test reactions to supersonic flight, and then the construction of a specially-built B-58 derived aircraft, the Convair Model 58-9. While the second phase “people pod” was never built, the B-58 was used alongside other supersonic aircraft like the F-104 in the controversial 1964 Oklahoma city sonic boom tests which helped spell the end of American overland supersonic flight, while the Convair 58-9 was the earliest ancestor of the final Convair 1010. However, at the time, the government was not interested in developing such a limited supersonic aircraft…

...The situation for supersonic transport development in the United States changed rapidly with the formalization of arrangements between Aerospatiale and BAC to develop the Concorde SST in 1962. FAA director Najeeb Halaby had advocated for funding of an American SST since 1961, but it had been blocked by concerns about economics. With the Anglo-French project proceeding and word emerging of the Soviet Tu-144, a consensus emerged within the FAA and industry that if American manufacturers did not lead in the supersonic market, it would be “a stunning setback” as Halaby put it. Halaby joined Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson in drafting an American response to the Concorde. To avoid surrendering the lead to foreign efforts, two Requests for Proposal (RFPs) were issued in 1963 following Congressional and Presidential approval of the National Supersonic Transport program. One was for a plane larger, faster, and more advanced than the Soviet and Anglo-French entrants, which would offer the potential of bringing supersonic flight to the masses. The other was for an aircraft which could be ready before international competitors to “fill the gap” and allow American airlines and manufacturers to “get in on the ground floor” of supersonic commercial operations. The policy was known, informally, as “the heir and the spare.” Proposals for both programs were received in January 1964, though most companies focused their attention on the larger and more lucrative airframe. Convair’s proposal for the “immediate capability’ aircraft was one of only a few entrants, competing with a version of the XB-70 Valkyrie and a few other low-risk options. However, while the Valkyrie had only two prototypes under construction and had yet to make its first flight, the B-58 was in operational service and had finally seen many of its initial teething issues resolved. It has been alleged that the plan to build the Convair proposal at their Fort Worth plant was a key deciding factor: both FAA director Najeeb Halaby and then-President Johnson hailed from the state of Texas, and Convair was in financial trouble following the commercial failure of their Convair 990 aircraft. Though fast, the Convair 990 Coronado was expensive to operate and had low seating capacity, and only 37 aircraft were built before lack of interest led to the model’s discontinuation in 1963, resulting in corporate parent General Dynamic suffering one of the largest losses in American corporate history. The selection of the Convair proposal, renamed as the Convair 1010 to indicate its heritage within Convair’s civilian passenger line, was alleged to be a form of corporate bailout for a critical Texas-based production site. The selection was extremely rapid, with the contract announced in July of 1964 with a goal of first flight by the beginning of 1967. The larger SST contract wouldn’t be downselected to the Boeing 2707 for more than two years, with delivery not expected before 1975. The launch of the Convair 1010 was reputed to be a major deciding factor in PanAm’s Juan Trippe placing options on both American aircraft instead of the Concorde, a pattern which was followed by several other American firms. Others, looking for the earliest supersonic aircraft they could find, placed options on both the Concorde and the Convair 1010s. The race for supersonic flight was on...

Design and Development


Image via Upship.com

...Design of the Convair 1010 began almost immediately, consisting of many of the same team which had just succeeded in delivering the Convair 990A to meet American Airlines’ goal of the fastest subsonic airliner in service. The design of the Convair 1010 was based heavily on the B-58 Hustler bomber and the Model 58-9 proposal, and consists of a delta wing with conventional tail surfaces and four engine pods. However, the outboard engine pods were relocated from their location on the B-58 to the ends of the wings, minimizing interaction drag with the wing and suppressing tip vortex generation. This was assisted by two wingtip fins, antecedents of the “winglets'' of modern subsonic jetliners. Designed to be capable of domestic short-haul supersonic service once the larger planned SST came into service, the Convair 1010 was originally designed to use the J-58 turbojet engine, which resulted in a relatively short range of just 2,500 nautical miles (4,600 kilometers) at its designed top speed of Mach 2.4. Though this was 20% faster than the Anglo-French Concorde, it would require a fuel stop on all flights to Europe to be made in Iceland, resulting in similar overall travel time. However, Convair’s recent experiences with the Model 990 Coronado lead to the 1010 switching to four turbofan CJ-805-23D engines, a slightly uprated version of the engine used on the Convair 990. This unusual engine featured the addition of an aft-mounted low-bypass fan driven directly from fan blades extended from a turbine stage which turned freely within the exhaust of an otherwise lightly-modified CJ-805--itself a derivative of the J-79 used on the B-58, simplifying mounting them to the aircraft. Already capable of Mach 0.97 operation on the Convair 990’s CJ-805-23B turbofan, a redesigned inlet based on the B-58 allowed the CJ-805D to handle the supersonic airflow while delivering superior thrust and fuel efficiency compared to the original military J-79 engines. The switch from a pure turbojet to a turbofan helped boost the Convair 1010’s range to just over 6,000 kilometers, allowing the elimination of the Iceland fuel stop on many Atlantic trips. Passengers were carried in twenty-six (26) rows of two seats each, with the aisle running down the middle. This meant every seat had access to two of the plane’s relatively small windows, including a single window in each of the plane’s two midships lavatories. A flight crew of three was required to operate the plane, with two flight attendants offering service during the flight. The design was finalized in 1965, by which time concern and controversy was emerging about its domestic short-haul role…


Diagram from Jet Aircraft Power Systems 3rd Edition by J. V. Casamassa, R. D. Bent, p238. Image via @stevphfeniey

Controversy and Construction

During the first half of 1964, the FAA organized a program with the USAF to generate 8 sonic booms a day over Oklahoma City using F-104, F-106, and B-58 aircraft. Though much of the population adapted to the noise, a significant fraction did not, and significant damage claims were reported due to broken glass and other property damage. Later in 1964, testing on the prototype XB-70 showed that higher altitude flights of larger aircraft, which NASA had hoped would mitigate the boom problem, instead exacerbated it, resulting in the aircraft dragging a “boom carpet” over 40 kilometers wide the length of its trip. Over the next year, public opinion would build against the option of domestic overland supersonic travel, restricting the Convair 1010 and the newly-selected Boeing 2707 to overseas international travel. This reduced much of the market for the planes, and raised concerns over their economic viability. In spite of concerns about the plane’s operational and economic viability, the first Convair 1010 prototypes began production at Fort Worth Plant #4 in the summer of 1966. Construction was streamlined by the reuse of tooling originally developed for the B-58 mass production run. By that point, Convair had taken over 50 options for the Convair 1010, many from customers who had also ordered either the Boeing 2707 or the Concorde…

...The Convair 1010 made its first flight on November 2, 1967, becoming the first of the new generation of supersonic transports to take flight. Over the next year, the envelope of the aircraft was explored, with the Convair 1010 making its first supersonic flight over the Texas panhandle in June of 1968. Late in the year, a second prototype joined the test fleet. Many of the initial test pilots were drawn from pilots who had flown the B-58 in development or squadron service, and all stated the new plane was significantly easier to fly. The improved engines offered enhanced reliability, and redesigned cockpit layout and control system monitoring reduced the crew workload compared to the B-58, though it was still complex compared to any other commercial aircraft. For more than a year, Convair racked up flight hours on the two prototypes. Observers from the press, the FAA, NASA, and Boeing monitored the tests--the latter as part of the often-uneasy cooperation forced by the FAA on the two chosen US supersonic flag carriers. With the Convair 1010 celebrating its first year in test flights, Boeing was forced to reluctantly return to the drawing board, trading their elegant swing wing for a more conventional delta. The major overhaul drew comparisons between the two FAA-sponsored projects. Some complimented President Johnson and FAA Director Najeeb Halaby for their foresight in ensuring that the United States had not “bet the farm” on a single aircraft, while others complained that for the cost of the two programs, the United States would still have no single aircraft capable of matching the Concorde and Tu-144 until and unless Boeing could completely overhaul the 2707’s design direction. The third prototype became active in November, almost a month before the Soviet Tu-144 became the second of the SSTs to take flight. A Convair team in Los Angeles was reputed to have sent the Tupolev team a card wishing them well and offering congratulations on introducing the fourth supersonic transport ever built. Four months later, the Concorde would follow the other two aircraft into testing…

...By the spring of 1969, the test fleet had swelled to four prototype aircraft and the first two production-intent aircraft. The benefits of the B-58 heritage showed, as the Convair 1010 was able to rapidly move through testing and additional aircraft could be added to the test fleet by transitioning pilots with B-58 Hustler experience. The FAA type certificate was issued in the fall of 1969, and the first aircraft were delivered to PanAm who used them to inaugurate the first supersonic trans-Atlantic airline service....

Service

...Flying with the jetstream, PanAm’s Convair 1010s were able to reach some European destinations unrefueled from PanAm’s Worldport in New York, even when sustaining the type’s top speed of Mach 2.4. However, on the return westbound leg the same winds worked against the plane and due to early struggles with inlet issues operating the CJ-805-23D in supersonic flight, almost all flights were forced to make a two-leg return, stopping at Keflavík Airport in Iceland for fuel before continuing. Even with the stop, PanAm’s Convair 1010 “Clippers” could make a passage time of little more than three hours. By 1971, PanAm was flying ten departures a day, typically with full cabins, from JFK for London, Paris, and Frankfurt. With the initial deliveries of ten aircraft to PanAm and four to the US government, Convair turned to fulfill orders from airlines who had placed smaller orders. Japan Airlines (JAL) took delivery of a trio of Convair 1010s in 1971, and initiated the first Pacific supersonic service, making a fuel stop in Anchorage…

... The oil crises of 1973 raised serious questions for the economic viability of the Convair 1010 and its competitors, which had yet to reach delivery to airline operations. Only routes like PanAm’s Atlantic service which could routinely fill almost all of the Convair 1010’s 56 seats with paying customers seemed likely to be profitable as fuel prices skyrocketed. Convair had an order book of 75 aircraft in 1971, but by the end of 1973, cancellations had begun to mount. While some airlines like PanAm were still interested in more aircraft, other airlines like United, American, Qantas, and Lufthansa began to cancel their orders shortly before taking delivery. In 1971, Convair had confidently predicted that the Convair 1010 line would remain open and produce a dozen planes a year for “a decade or more”. However, by the end of 1973 they were beginning to scale down operations. PanAm, having evaluated the Convair 1010 against the Concorde, had decided to stake their operations on the smaller, faster, easier-to-fill aircraft, and had declined to order a second supersonic type. Instead, to begin Pacific service, they bought the final year’s production as the airlines they were originally ordered by cancelled delivery…

...The final Convair 1010 was produced in Fort Worth in 1975, with the line closing after building a total of just 41 aircraft--four prototypes and 37 operational aircraft. Three of the last sold were delivered to IranAir, which used them for service around the Middle East and to France and Germany. As with the Model 880 and 990, it seemed that in the new era of turbofan widebody subsonic aircraft, speed was no longer king in commercial operations. Convair’s second-most-produced civilian aircraft, it would also be the company's last, though they would produce fuselage sections for McDonnell Douglas. The supersonic services of PanAm, JAL, and Air India would remain luxury status indicators for the super-rich. The Boeing 2707, the planned American follow-on to the Convair 1010, never reached flight. The smaller Concorde fleet would duel the Convair 1010 for dominance on Atlantic routes, but the Convair 1010 would rule Pacific routes. PanAm’s Convair 1010 Clippers flew from San Francisco to Hawaii, then on to Tokyo (with fuel stop at Midway Island) and Australia (with fuel stop in American Samoa), while JAL maintained service to Los Angeles and Vancouver through Anchorage...

…During the Mexican Oil boom in 1977, PanAm inaugurated a gulf service, flying a shuttle service from New York to Miami, then a triangle route between Houston, Mexico City, and Miami, with two flights a day each direction. The service was popular as long as the boom lasted, but by the mid-1980s had been withdrawn leaving only the JFK-to-Miami shuttle…


...By the end of the 1980s, though Iran Air continued to own their two aircraft and operated them on an irregular schedule, and some airlines experimented with wet-leased aircraft for limited engagements, every major airline other than PanAm had withdrawn their Convair 1010s from regular service. PanAm’s 25 aircraft were widely advertised as “the largest supersonic fleet in the world”. Four aircraft were operated by USAF Military Airlift Command, two of which were kept on standby as “Air Force One” for Presidential use. NASA had purchased two of Convair’s in-house testing fleet for experiments with high-Mach-number flight including aerodynamic tests of models, deployment of payloads, and techniques to attempt to minimize the “sonic boom” of future generations of supersonic aircraft. One aircraft was modified in 1989 with a long nose attempting early efforts at “boom shaping”...

...Engine intake and combustor modifications installed in the PanAm fleet during their first round of D-checks in the early to mid 1980s improved fuel efficiency slightly. The gains, though small, added a few hundred additional kilometers of range, enough to allow Convair 1010s to make the JFK-to-Europe leg unrefueled both ways in almost all weather conditions and to eliminate the fuel stop at Midway Atoll on flights between Japan and Hawaii, though Hawaii to Sydney still required a refueling stop...

..In 1991, when PanAm became financially insolvent, the Atlantic and Pacific supersonic services were two of the company’s major profit centers, and were acquired by Delta in the buyout of the company’s assets, though the more expensive Sydney service was discontinued. The Delta services continued to be reduced from the PanAm peak, with the Miami shuttle eliminated in 1993 and all Pacific service beyond Hawaii eliminated in 1996 as the Japanese financial collapse reduced the profitability of Tokyo-bound supersonic flights, leaving only SFO-to-Hawaii and the JFK-to-Europe services…

...In 1998, cracks were found in the inboard wing pylons of a Delta Convair 1010 during its second “D-check” maintenance period. A stand-down followed, and cracks were found in the pylons and fuselages of five more aircraft. Though the JFK-based Atlantic service resumed in 1999, reduced available aircraft led to the final discontinuation of Delta’s Convair 1010 Pacific service…

Upgrades and Successors

...In the mid-1980s, PanAm had begun discussions with Convair and McDonnell-Douglas about the potential for upgrades to modernize their Convair 1010 Clipper fleet. The range of the Convair 1010 and the resulting need for additional fuel stops in Iceland and various Pacific islands had contributed to the plane having operational limitations. Despite being only capable of Mach 2 instead of the Convair 1010’s Mach 2.4, the shorter total distance of a direct flight on British Airways and Air France’s Concorde meant that the slower plane was often equally as quick or even faster to cross the Atlantic than the American plane, though PanAm’s larger fleet of smaller planes meant they could offer more flexibility in departure time and destinations while remaining profitable. General Electric proposed replacing their older CJ-805-23 turbofans with a new supersonic turbofan based on the CFM-56’s F101-heritage core. Ultimately, Convair, McDonnell, and PanAm couldn’t make the cost of developing and fielding a brand new supersonic engine in life-limited airframes economically viable…

...Instead of developing a re-engining option for the Convair 1010, Convair instead proposed developing an entirely new airframe, as the profitability of the Convair 1010 in the booming late 1980s and early 1990s sparked hope for hundreds of new supersonic sales, particularly if NASA’s development work could indeed yield a design capable of overland supersonic flight. McDonnell inherited sole ownership of the “Convair 2020” studies when they purchased Convair’s fuselage production assets and certain design authorities from General Dynamics during Convair’s 1992 breakup. With maintenance costs of Concorde rising, British Airways and Air France also expressed interest in the “MD-2020”, and interest was also received from Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic. When McDonnell merged with Boeing in 1996, the project was reborn as the Boeing 2020, and approved as the corporate inheritor of the company’s Boeing 2707 legacy. At long last, the Boeing company would produce the advanced second American supersonic airliner. Though delayed by the post-9/11 slump in air travel, Delta’s Convair 1010 service saw dramatically increased demand following the fatal Air France 4590 in 2000, helping to prove passengers were still willing to selectively choose the speed of supersonic airliners on at least certain routes. This was highlighted by the success of Virgin Sonic, a branded “airline within an airline” project by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Delta Air Lines from 1999 to 2008. Virgin Sonic operated aircraft leased from Delta as well as former Air India and JAL aircraft on summer holiday routes in competition with Concorde. The Boeing 2020 made its first flight in 2007, and was introduced into service with Delta in 2010, with Delta retiring its final Convair 1010 aircraft one-to-one with their replacements…

...The last Convair 1010s flying commercially belonged to Iran Air, which operated their pair intermittently until 2013. NASA’s two remaining aircraft were operated as testbeds until they were replaced by Boeing 2020s in 2015, though one was kept flight-worthy until it delivered itself to the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover AFB in Dover, Delaware in 2018 in the last flight of a Convair 1010...

Convair 1010 Cultural Legacy

With the cancellation of the Boeing 2707, the Convair 1010 and the Boeing 747 ended up representing the height of American aviation technology during the 1970s. They were often compared to the Apollo program, and they had connections to several Apollo astronauts. In one likely apocryphal story, astronaut Pete Conrad was flying on a PanAm Convair 1010 Clipper chartered for a worldwide promotional and diplomatic tour following the Apollo 12 mission to the moon. Conrad is reputed to have spent the entire flight riding in the cockpit jumpseat, and requested several times to take the stick. Supposedly, Conrad cited his supersonic flight time in F-4 Phantoms and Apollo, saying that “you may think it’s impressive to do Miami to New York in an hour, but I’ve done Miami to Spain in ten minutes.” The story’s provenance is questionable, though it was recreated in a scene in HBO’s miniseries From the Earth to the Moon and Pete Conrad did eventually get checked out as a pilot on the NASA Convair 1010 testbed fleet before his retirement...

..Other Apollo astronauts had more complicated histories with the Convair 1010. Though he admired Convair’s technical achievement, Frank Borman intervened personally to prevent Eastern Airlines from moving forward with Convair 1010 and Concorde purchases in 1973, selling the airline’s options on the 1010 to PanAm instead as he was unconvinced of the type’s economic viability from the beginning and was worried it would be little more than a showpiece for the airline’s management…

…The West Wing episode “Slow Boat to San Francisco” (Season 1, Episode 5), famously called out the limited capacity of the VC-7A in its role as Air Force One. A scheduling problem forces the President to make a flight from Washington to California in the VC-7A with Leo, leaving the staff split between two planes when a developing situation throws the “airborne White Houses” into a crisis. Sam, Josh, and CJ are forced to deal with the press while flying about the 747 VC-25A, with limited ability to contact the President after a scheduling problem forces the President to make a flight from Washington to California in a Convair 1010 with Leo. In the episode, Bartlet alludes to the impending retirement of the Convair 1010 as Air Force One (which had actually happened 18 months prior in reality), asking Leo “Why don’t we do this more often? I love this plane. It’s from when we used to dream of the stars.” Leo answers by citing the President’s own arguments for signing an Air Force spending bill the month prior to terminate support of the VC-7A transport fleet, including that “the people of Dayton and Peoria don’t think much of the President laying down a sonic boom because the scheduler forgot to convert to California time.” Bartlet grimaces, then leans back in his seat. “Always the details.”...

...The exterior of Convair 1010s and recreated cabin interiors have appeared in several dramas set in the last half of the 20th century, when the Convair 1010 and Concorde were the height of luxury in travel times. Advertising campaigns for the Convair 1010 appeared as a plot thread in the period-piece drama “Mad Men” in 2009, including filming in a redressed Delta Convair 1010 in storage on display at the Pima Air Museum in Arizona...

Operators:

Pan American Airways: 25 (1969-1991)
Delta Air Lines: 25+ (Former Pan American, Air India, Japan Airlines) (1992-2012)
Japan Airlines: 3 (1971-1993)
Iran Air: 3 (1971-2013)
Air India: 2 (1972-1995)
Virgin Sonic: 3 (further 2 under wet-lease from Delta Air Lines) (1999-2008)
USAF: 4 (1970-1999)
NASA: 3 (Convair Test Aircraft #3, #4, former USAF) (1972-2018)
Federal Express: 2 (Under Wet-Lease from Pan American) (1984-1990)
Hawaiian Airlines: 1 (Under Wet-Lease from Pan American) (1988)





Aircraft on Display:
MuseumLocationLiveryNotes
National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy CenterDulles Airport, Chantilly, VirginiaPan AmericanFirst PanAm operational Aircraft, Retired 1998 after Fuselage Cracks found during D-Check
Air Mobility Command MuseumDover Air Force Base, DelawareNASA “Meatball”Former USAF, NASA, Final Flight, 2018
Delta Flight MuseumAtlanta, GeorgiaDeltaFormer PanAm
National Museum of the United States Air ForceWright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, OhioAir Force One70-1020 "SAM Ten-Twenty"
Richard Nixon Presidential Library and MuseumYorba Linda, CaliforniaAir Force One70-1010 "SAM Ten-Ten"
Intrepid Air, Sea, & Space MuseumNew York City, New YorkVirgin SonicFormer PanAm, Former Delta, Retired after Virgin Sonic discontinued
Pima Air & Space MuseumTucson, ArizonaPan American, Non-Aviation GradeRetired Delta, Repainted for filming, cabin interior loosely refit to 1970s configuration
Fantasy of FlightPolk City, FloridaNASA "Worm"Former Convair #3, Former NASA, Retired 1988. Features modifications aimed at reducing sonic boom profile.
California Science CenterLos Angeles, CaliforniaDeltaShares Temporary Pavilion with OV-105 Endeavour
Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum/San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation LibrarySan Francisco Airport, San Francisco, CaliforniaDeltaJoint Exhibit with NASA Ames, Holds absolute top speed record, Commercial Airliner, 3000 kph.
Evergreen Aviation & Space MuseumMcMinnville, OregonVirgin SonicRecord Holder, Honolulu to Sydney
Kansas CosmosphereHutchinson, KansasDeltaRecord Holder, Miami to JFK, set in July 1987
Museum of FlightSeattle, Washington"Boeing 1010"Paint Scheme Anachronistic, Former Air India
Fort Worth Aviation MuseumFort Worth, TexasConvair 1010Convair test aircraft #1, no Revenue or government service. Stored at Davis-Monthan 1977-2002
Museum of Science and IndustryChicago, IllinoisDeltaRecord Holder, Fastest PanAm/Delta Tokyo-SFO run
Tehran Aerospace Exhibition CenterTehran, IranIran AirLast Commercial Flight
Musée de l’air et de l’espaceParis–Le Bourget Airport, Le Bourget, FranceDeltaOutside Display with Boeing 747
Brooklands MuseumWeybridge, Surrey, EnglandDeltaOn Display with Concorde
Daniel K. Inouye International AirportHonolulu, Hawai'iDeltaViewing platforms from both secured and unsecured areas between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2
Aviation Museum of IcelandAkureyi, IcelandVirgin Sonic
Auto & Technik MuseumSinsheim, GermanyPan AmericanOnly Convair 1010 on display with Tu-144 and Concorde
JAL Sky MuseumHaneda Airport, Tokyo, JapanJALOnly example in Japan, Former JAL, Former Virgin Sonic
Indian Air Force MuseumPalam, IndiaAir IndiaOnly Example in India

Sample Livery
Convair Original Testing Colors

Air Force One (VC-7A)


USAF (C-7B)


Pan American


Japan Airlines


Iran Air


Air India


Delta


Federal Express


Virgin Sonic


Boeing 1010


NASA “Worm”


NASA “Meatball”


NASA One


Additional image source and inspirations by “agnott” on DeviantArt:
Model 58-9/Convair 1010 in Delta Livery by Agnott, used in opening wikibox
Agnott’s proposed PanAm livery
Agnott’s proposed Virgin Atlantic livery
 
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So, I'm assuming a bunch of airline executives all decided to go on a lead paint drinking binge here? Because those same execs noped out of Concorde, a plane that was more fuel efficient and held twice as many passengers. Guzzling lead paint is the only reason they would even think of buying that plane
 
Most excellent! I'm mildly surprised the CJ805 is enough to push something up past Mach 2, and that Pan Am (and later Delta) would operate *twenty-five* of these beauties for as long as they did. Keep up the good work, oh and Happy First of April ;)
 
I assume that Iran didn't have a revolution?
They do, they just get their Convair 1010s delivered first. That's part of why it's a 1978 route map. ;) Anyway, they flirted with the Cocorde IOTL, but ultimately decided against it for a variety of reasons. Here, the 1010s can be delivered earlier, and are individually cheaper due to just being smaller airplanes and built in larger numbers.
So, I'm assuming a bunch of airline executives all decided to go on a lead paint drinking binge here? Because those same execs noped out of Concorde, a plane that was more fuel efficient and held twice as many passengers. Guzzling lead paint is the only reason they would even think of buying that plane.
It's a little silly, but not completely lead-paint. Airlines mostly noped out of Concorde in 1972/3, and the 1010's fuel economy with the turbofans is only a bit worse than Concorde per passenger-mile. Moveover, the first Convair 1010s are delivered in 1969, almost three years earlier, when fuel prices are a lot lower. At the time, if you want a supersonic airliner, it's the only game in town. Even here, it's really only the three airlines that take delivery of aircraft before 1972 that end up retaining them, with PanAm operating them as a signature service, and Japan and Air India in some ways operating them as flag-carriers and (particularly for Air India) shadow VIP transports. PanAm orders more to bulk out its fleet, but pretty much everyone else who had one ordered cancels, much like the Concorde.

It's worth noting that the 25 aircraft PanAm operate actually seat fewer total people than the 14 historical Concordes, but are covering more routes with more frequent departures. That helps cultivate a sense of exclusivity and provides more responsive service, while helping to ensure planes fly fully loaded with paying customers--a condition where even Concorde could be profitable.
 
Most excellent! I'm mildly surprised the CJ805 is enough to push something up past Mach 2, and that Pan Am (and later Delta) would operate *twenty-five* of these beauties for as long as they did. Keep up the good work, oh and Happy First of April ;)
Our logic, as noted in the text, is that the CJ-805-3 is a civillian version of same J-79 core that drove the original B-58 to Mach 2. The fan from the historical CJ-805-23 is essentially bolted on behind a stock CJ-805-3, thus the logic that it could still work supersonic with the right inlet design.After all, production Convair 990s rode CJ-805-23 engines into Mach 0.97, which is pretty deep trans-sonic territory. With a shock inlet, the engines on the Convair 1010 may not be seeing a much more challenging environment even up to Mach 2.7. It seemed sufficiently logical for an April Fool's timeline anyway.

Thank you, by the way, for the image of the CJ-805-23 fan case--we need to get that credit updated.
 
So, I'm assuming a bunch of airline executives all decided to go on a lead paint drinking binge here? Because those same execs noped out of Concorde, a plane that was more fuel efficient and held twice as many passengers. Guzzling lead paint is the only reason they would even think of buying that plane
One point that should be made is that the engines here are not going to be much louder than any other engine in the 990/707/DC-8 engine class, which is going to impact how they are seen in the US. Braniff may want them (as they historically had a subsonic service from DFW to DC around 1980), but by this point, the lines are long closed, and PanAm hasn't started their wet-lease program, which will only end up with FedEx and Hawaiian Airlines as customers.

They do, they just get their Convair 1010s delivered first. That's part of why it's a 1978 route map. ;) Anyway, they flirted with the Cocorde IOTL, but ultimately decided against it for a variety of reasons. Here, the 1010s can be delivered earlier, and are individually cheaper due to just being smaller airplanes and built in larger numbers.
It's a little silly, but not completely lead-paint. Airlines mostly noped out of Concorde in 1972/3, and the 1010's fuel economy with the turbofans is only a bit worse than Concorde per passenger-mile. Moveover, the first Convair 1010s are delivered in 1969, almost three years earlier, when fuel prices are a lot lower. At the time, if you want a supersonic airliner, it's the only game in town. Even here, it's really only the three airlines that take delivery of aircraft before 1972 that end up retaining them, with PanAm operating them as a signature service, and Japan and Air India in some ways operating them as flag-carriers and (particularly for Air India) shadow VIP transports. PanAm orders more to bulk out its fleet, but pretty much everyone else who had one ordered cancels, much like the Concorde.
To expand upon this, The Convair 1010s have over six years of commercial service before the first paying passenger boards a Concorde. That's a lot of time to build operating experience, and to know how to shift the fleet around as needed. This means that PanAm, and to a lesser degree Air India, Iran Air, & JAL will know how to compete when the Concorde comes online. BA service to Singapore still probably happens for a short while as people might not want to have to change airlines multiple times (get to France/Germany, then Iran Air, then Air India), but I think that service still ends as the market just isn't big enough to support two services. Paris-Dakar-Rio and Paris-Azores-Caracas never get Pan Am competition however.

Nixon's meeting with Pompidou in late 1971 in the Azores puts him less at ease here however because he gets to fly in his VC-7A, which, while smaller than Pompidou's Concorde, is in actual service.

It's worth noting that the 25 aircraft PanAm operate actually seat fewer total people than the 14 historical Concordes, but are covering more routes with more frequent departures. That helps cultivate a sense of exclusivity and provides more responsive service, while helping to ensure planes fly fully loaded with paying customers--a condition where even Concorde could be profitable.
As e of pi notes, the larger fleet (a total of 1300 seats vs 840 BA and 600 AF), gives PanAm a lot more flexibility in routing and scheduling. I'd also note that it means that a single 1010 being down for maintenance represents a smaller portion of the fleet than a Concorde does.

I think this is also an important fact - Pan Am (and later Delta) have more seats in their total fleet than British Airways or Air France, but they also have to cover so many more routes globably that there is a market for all three airlines. As the number of Delta seats drops in the 1990s due to aircraft age, global 1010 coverage gets slowly scaled back to retain the multiple flight per day service on the trans-Atlantic routes. While it is outside of the scope of the TL, I myself envision that the Boeing 2020 fleet is going to allow for a return to various limited services around the globe such as trans-Pacific, and maybe even trans-American flights. Trans-Atlantic will continue to be the bread and butter of Delta's service however.
 
Our logic, as noted in the text, is that the CJ-805-3 is a civillian version of same J-79 core that drove the original B-58 to Mach 2. The fan from the historical CJ-805-23 is essentially bolted on behind a stock CJ-805-3, thus the logic that it could still work supersonic with the right inlet design..
Two problems with it though, both fairly major:
  1. Static Thrust is (mass flow) x (jet velocity) - the mass flow goes up a lot in the turbofan version. Speed of sound varies with air temperature, but given the operating altitudes it's ~Mach 2.3 for the -3 and ~Mach 1.3 for the -23 version. Unless you're using reheat, I just don't think that you're going to be able to sustain Mach 2 without a significant reduction in bypass ratio and some rather complex nozzle designs.
  2. Ram drag from the engine is pretty significant - essentially that means you're going to need a MUCH more powerful turbofan engine to replace a turbojet at these speeds due to the increased frontal area.
Having said that, I don't think it impacts the story much - you can probably get the same effects by improving the compression ratio and TIT a bit.

After all, production Convair 990s rode CJ-805-23 engines into Mach 0.97, which is pretty deep trans-sonic territory. With a shock inlet, the engines on the Convair 1010 may not be seeing a much more challenging environment even up to Mach 2.7. It seemed sufficiently logical for an April Fool's timeline anyway.
The inlet is reasonably straightforward to get to work, but as noted above that may not be the biggest problem.
 
They do, they just get their Convair 1010s delivered first. That's part of why it's a 1978 route map. ;) Anyway, they flirted with the Cocorde IOTL, but ultimately decided against it for a variety of reasons. Here, the 1010s can be delivered earlier, and are individually cheaper due to just being smaller airplanes and built in larger numbers.
I think their biggest problem post revolution is where would they get the spares from? The US was closed to them as a source with the overthrown of the Shah (and embassy hostages).
 
I think their biggest problem post revolution is where would they get the spares from? The US was closed to them as a source with the overthrown of the Shah (and embassy hostages).
Same way they kept the Boeing airliners going for decades, or, more notably their J79 powered F-4s flying. The Iranian aviation industry is just capable enough to baby the birds along until 2013.
 
Same way they kept the Boeing airliners going for decades, or, more notably their J79 powered F-4s flying. The Iranian aviation industry is just capable enough to baby the birds along until 2013.
Spares for those aircraft are available from other nations. Spares for a SST only manufactured in small numbers in the US? Doubtful.
 
Spares for those aircraft are available from other nations. Spares for a SST only manufactured in small numbers in the US? Doubtful.
Well, Not really? The Iranians still have F-14s flying, and there is a baseline presumption that there is likely a fair bit of commonality between the CV-990 and the CV-1010 on subsystems where possible. If that is the case, there were 37 CV-990s, of which eight were involved in hull-loss accidents, and six survive in some form. That's 23 hulls that can have parts pulled from them if that's the case, and the Iranians are not dumb when it comes to keeping planes around a lot longer than they should.
 
Spares for those aircraft are available from other nations. Spares for a SST only manufactured in small numbers in the US? Doubtful.
Part of the reason Iran's only has intermittent 1010 operation by 2013 is that they've definitely cannibalized parts from one of the two airframes they own to keep the other flying. when they couldn't source parts or substitute spares from other Convair products, and its operational schedule is set around generous allowances for maintenance.
That was a fun little read.
Thanks! It was a fun little write, too. :)
 
This could leader to more competition nd experimentation world wide, which could have significnt effect on the aviation industry in general.
 
Any large scale case of broken glass from sonic booms?
I don't think any more so than IOTL. Not because it can't happen (though as a smaller plane the Convair 1010 may have a little smaller boom carpet than Concorde) but because the US still bans commercial supersonic flights overland no later than OTL, and possibly a little sooner given PanAm begin operations a year or two before the OTL ban, accelerating the need to regulate it.
This could leader to more competition nd experimentation world wide, which could have significnt effect on the aviation industry in general.
We figure it certainly leads the US to not abandon supersonic transport boom mitigation research between ~1975 and the late 90s/early 00s, which (along with Delta's desire to replace their 1010s and Air France and British Airways possibly being interested in replacing their Concordes) is what explains the Boeing 2020.
 
AUTHOR NOTES
Summary:

The fact is that any SST, even an early American SST is going to have a very limited market. It turned out that people wanted lower prices, and then more leg room over faster travel speeds. This is why aircraft speeds have gone down, and cattle class has gone up. We would note that the 33 commercial 1010s (41 total, but 4 were USAF and 4 were test birds) have a lower total capacity than the 14 commercial Concordes by 76 people (33 airframes at 52 passengers per air frame vs 14 airframes at 128 per). They can, however, be in a bit over twice as many places at once.

Controversy:
The planes are fundamentally able to make it to service because they get far enough along that they don't get canceled out of hand. When you can fly by 1967, keeping the line open in Texas helps mitigate the late 60s and early 70s aerospace draw-downs, which is good for the politicians. The plane being a thing in service does however help kill the larger SST, more or less on schedule.

Service and Route Maps:
The first 10 Pan Am birds are used, as noted, to build the trans-Atlantic service, and give them experience that no-one else has for six years (problems with Concorde don't go away just because there is a real competitor). The authors went back and forth on some of the routing, and while the TL has all of the flights going out of JFK, at least in the first half of the 1970s, there are probably also flights out of Washington-Dulles on a daily basis to London and Paris, and maybe out of Boston-Logan to London on a multiple-times-per-week basis. Pan Am will want to consolidate down as they can, which likely results in an earlier Pan Am Shuttle service, possibly even before Airline De-regulation in 1978. This also is why they are allowed to operate domestic SST on the Houston-Miami-NYC routes, and pseudo-domestic from Miami/Houston to San Francisco via Mexico City. Presume some form of early two-gate secured/sanitized terminal that means you don't have to go through Mexican immigration control. Going from the South East to the West Coast via Mexico City might be faster than a non-stop subsonic airliner, but we both doubt that people will actually do this regularly.

Most of the rest of the map is accurate for the peak of service in 1978, prior to the Iranian Revolution splitting the Pan Am-Iran Air links in Paris and Frankfurt. After the Revolution, as has been discussed, Iran is able to keep their planes flying partly through creativity, partly through reduced schedules, and partly through cannibalizing one airframe to save the other two. They’re apparently clever on that front when it comes to F-14s and other exotic types, and the Convair 1010 is fundamentally a mid-60s airplane.

Federal Express planes are operated in a minimum-change (remove the seats and one of the lavatories) configuration to move mail and small packages trans-Atlantic. Presume each plane does one loop per day. FedEx historically wanted to lease Concordes for this, but was unable to do so. Here, PanAm with a larger fleet, is able to let a pair of them go for a while while FedEx pays to keep them flying. The Hawaiian Airlines bit started as a joke. @TimothyC had his Hawaiian Livery work from one of his Independent Hawaiʻi TLs that he doodles in for fun. Part of that was having already completed the layer masks for Concorde in shipbucket scale, and applying them to the Convair 1010 was trivial. The result of the joke however is that the livery got integrated into the TL with Hawaiian wet-leasing a single bird for six months while they tried to operate a Tokyo-Honolulu-L.A. service. The service failed to be profitable, and the plane was returned to Pan Am. This is the aircraft on display at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, in a structure where a parking lot is now (between Terminals 1 and 2).

Branson did seek to secure Concondes in OTL, but was unable to do so. Here, with a fallback aircraft type, and the fact that Delta owns 49% of Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Sonic is born. The reader may presume that Virgin Sonic operated on lower-demand trans-Atlantic routes as opposed to Delta Sonic’s JFK-LHR/CDG. The brand is thus a different service for different people that extends even after the Concondes stop flying.There is likely an effort made by Branson to have at least one scheduled service on all of the historic BA/AF Concorde routes just so VS can say that the 1010 flew everywhere the Concorde did, except Caracas, where service never materializes in the Chavez era.

Cultural Legacy:
The Pete Conrad bit was all @e of pi , and is just pure humor. We can see the moonwalker making as good of a case as he can, and the eventual check-out on the NASA planes is so that if he's ever on one again, the pilots won't be able to say that he's not checked out to fly them. That said, we leave if it really happened up to the reader.

Borman was very good at keeping Eastern going, and we think he'd see the Pan Am numbers, and know that he can't compete with them, so he wouldn't want to try. This is per historical, as seen in this 1976 NYT article. He was instrumental with cancelling Eastern’s Concordes, it’s unlikely he’d let the 1010 off any easier.

The West Wing episode was a late (the last actually) addition to the TL, and, in universe, was probably one of the episodes that most resembles the pre-pilot concept for the show. Having two planes is a great way to split the president from the staff, and as the original show plan was for the president to only show up in four episodes per season, keep the audience from asking "well, why don't they just go ask the boss." Aviation in the West Wing is already radically different than in our world (the Lockheed TriStar in production into the 1990s, an extra shuttle, ect), so that the 1010 as Air Force One is around an extra two years isn't wildly divergent.

We further presume that any and all TV ‘period’ sets are more or less rubbish, and get picked apart any time they are on screen no matter the show.

Display Aircraft:
There are 23 aircraft on display, out of 41 built. We presume that a further 10 or so are in storage at Davis-Monthan and other boneyards in the American Southwest, and the rest have been scrapped, including the two other Iran Air jets (one of which was probably used to keep the other two flying post-revolution). As for the 23 we have listed, most are self-explanatory, and some will displace the Concordes that went on display in the US in OTL (Udvar-Hazy, Intrepid, Museum of Flight).

The two former Air Force Ones (one at NMUSAF and the other at The Nixon Library) both get to be indoors, with the Nixon aircraft having been disassembled and reassembled as the VC-137 was at the Reagan Library. These two aircraft should probably have ended up in each other's museum, but space and timing constraints resulted in the configuration selected. The Fantasy of Flight aircraft was the first displayed bird, and moved to the current Polk City location following Hurricane Andrew. It is the only aircraft on display with the old NASA worm logo, which it had when it was retired in 1988.

The Tehran Aerospace Exhibition Center is visible on various aerial photographs as little more than a field off of Tehran airport with planes parked in it. Adding an SST that has a smaller footprint than a 727-200 won't change that.

The Aviation Museum of Iceland is a real, if small, museum that was selected because of all of the refueling stops that were made. The weirdest part is that the museum isn't located near either Reykjavik or the associated Keflavik airport. It's on the other side of the island, and the largest aircraft they have in OTL is a Fokker F27. The Convair is a relatively large addition, and the authors presume that the image of the aircraft seen on Wikipedia is one of the aerial photographs, not taken from the ground. @e of pi and @TimothyC both like the idea that this is the one entry on the table without any notes.

Artwork:
Not a lot to say here. The Boeing 1010 art is from when MDD bought Boeing with Boeing's money in the late 1990s, and the aircraft was redesignated. Boeing has been great at turning aircraft built by not-Boeing companies that ended up a part of Boeing into Boeing products (e.g. Boeing 717). Here, they did the same, and gave it the anachronistic livery when they donated it to the museum as a way of promoting the new Boeing 2020. The Boeing 2020 is truly a Boeing aircraft, if built on the inherited MDD/Convair studies, but they use the X0X0 name pattern instead of the 27X7 pattern because...well, one of those has spent the last forty years flying. This made the Dallas-Fort Worth people mad enough to get the plane on display in Texas to be in the proper colors. All of the rest should make sense. Lots of white. Our interpretation of the livery isn’t completely identical to the 3D art we found, but they’re pretty close.
 
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