Dassault Aviation from France designed the Mercure to fly short routes very efficiently. First flying in 1971 and entering service with Air Inter in 1974, this is one rare aircraft indeed.
The reason it is rare is that nobody purchased the aircraft except Air Inter, which was a French domestic airline. Even so, the aircraft remained in service through to 1995 and it has an interesting story.
Dassault Mercure Video
There is an informative and well put together video about the Mercure which you can see below. This follows on from the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar video I posted last week and is made by the same people who created that one.
Trying to take the 150 seat short range market, Dassault thought they would do very well. As a manufacturer of successful military aircraft and business jets, they had the engineering know how to make this work.
Pilots had a heads up display – something that is also on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner – which was unheard of in commercial aviation at that time. Optimised for short missions, the aircraft featured a low weight and advanced aerodynamics for more efficiency.
With a maximum range of just 1,700 kilometres, it was very suitable for short domestic routes in France. However, this meant that sales in other countries never materialised as this was just too short for other carriers.
Aircraft failures are always interesting, as even the best intentions don’t always translate to commercial success. Optimistically, four production plants were built for the aircraft, which must have seemed as an expensive waste considering only 12 aircraft were eventually built.
Even so, the aircraft never had an accident and worked very well for Air Inter, an airline that became part of Air France in 1997.
Did you know about the Mercure or ever have the opportunity to fly on board one? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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Featured image by Michel Gilliand via Airliners.net