The Convair 880 and 990 were part of the first generation of jet airliners, manufactured in the United States. These aircraft seated people five abreast and were some of the fastest subsonic aircraft in the world.
Unfortunately they were not very successful, with just 65 Convair 880s and 37 Convair 990s built. The latter is the fastest subsonic aircraft ever produced.
Convair 990 Video
An interesting video about the Convair 990 is on YouTube and linked below. It details the issues with the aircraft and why it was not a sales success.
In order to get the amount of speed required, the aircraft burned a lot of fuel. Due to this need for speed, the cabin was thinner than the competing aircraft such as the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 which meant it carried less passengers also.
American Airlines and Swissair were the main operators of the aircraft, while TWA and Delta Air Lines operated the 880 version. Once oil skyrocketed in the early 1970s, they were quickly withdrawn from service.
The company lost a huge amount of money on the programme and exited the commercial aviation business. This is why we are not flying on these aircraft today.
The video is very interesting in that it shows some of the issues that Convair had with the aircraft. It certainly would have been great to fly on board one, as it was apparently quite luxurious on board.
Flying at the dawn of the jet age would have been quite a lot of fun. In addition to the 880 and 990, you could fly on the Boeing 707, Douglas DC-8, Vickers VC-10, de Havilland Comet 4, and the Hawker Siddeley Trident among others. I think I’d have liked the variety!
Did you ever fly on a Convair 880 or 990 or one of the early jets? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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