The Worst Selling Commercial Airliners
much like the battles for the skies between squadrons of bombers and fighters another fierce conflict in aviation circles has been the development of the most successful commercial airliner design a cutthroat competition mixing economic operation and maintenance with size and capacity that will suit the mass market while today much of the airliner construction industry has been rationalized to the point that only a small handful of builders remain this evolution has been down to survival of the fittest and in this video we shall be examining those that weren't able to beat their competitors and reap commercial success these factors being based primarily on the return of investment each airliner model was able to achieve and the length of time each airliner saw with their original launch customer this lineup excluding prototypes or aircraft that never entered revenue-earning service or aircraft developed within the soviet union where cold war era trade embargoes stunted the potential sales prospects of these models outside their native ussr in the early 1970s it was apparent that with increased ranges in commercial airliners new travel corridors could be open on what were quickly being called ultra long-haul flights with airlines such as pan am iran air and south african airways or wishing to undertake direct services between major centers without the need for lengthy refueling stopovers it was in this therefore that pan am put forward a request to boeing in 1971 to create a shorter but lighter derivative of the company's original 747 100 jumbo jet the resultant airliner known as the 747 special performance or sp being 47 feet shorter than the 747 100 but able to fly up to 5830 miles non-stop with a complement of 276 passengers ideal for pan-am's proposed ultra-long-haul routes while also illustrating a 33 reduction in fuel consumption over the regular 747 and thereby putting it on almost even terms with the far more economic tri-jets being created by lockheed and mcdonnell douglas sadly just as development of the 747 sp began the aviation industry was rocked by the 1973 oil crisis which caused a spike in fuel prices while fewer passengers chose to fly due to the increased cost of living but despite ultra long-haul flights suddenly becoming deeply unprofitable the 747 sp project was pushed through to fruition being launched in 1976 with pan am on services between new york tokyo and tehran while the 747sp did enter operation and was used extensively on among the longest flights in the world the general unattractiveness of ultra long-haul flights during this period meant the original aspirations of the airliner's customers to create a global network of non-stop long-distance corridors were never realized and against a forecast build out of 200 units and a 45-unit break-even only 44 747 sps were assembled during the original production run between 1976 and 1982 although a 45th example was constructed as a standalone order for a private customer in 1987. as for their operations sps were able to rack up a considerable service career with many airlines although their original roles as ultra long-haul airliners had largely disappeared by the mid-1980s as they were instead put to work supplementing trunk routes such as new york to london or on lower demand trips that didn't justify the use of a full size 747 the surviving units today being used solely for the purposes of scientific research ad-hoc charters or as private jets for governments of the middle east in many aspects the vicar's vc10 was far more advanced than the rival boeing 707 its main features being its higher speed and ability to operate from airports with hot and high environmental conditions that compromise the performance of conventional jet airliner models this element being especially important on boac's empire routes to cities such as nairobi and singapore unfortunately what the vc10 gained in performance over the 707 it lost on efficiency being far more expensive to maintain and operate due to its fuel consumption and complex technology including an extremely advanced quadruplicated automatic flight control system known as super autopilot and an automatic landing system similar to that found on the hawker siddeley trident with a development cost of 113 million pounds or 2.4 billion in 2021 the vc10 was required to sell a minimum of 80 units in order to break even but despite its advanced flying technology the main carrier for which the airliner had been built the british overseas airways corporation or boac put up a stiff fight against the model due to its operational inefficiency the vc-10 flying at a per passenger mile cost of four pounds 24 against the boeing 707's four pound ten figure which was the carrier's preferred option for future airliners eventually boac was strong-armed by the british government due to the carrier being nationalized to take on the type and after much negotiation between boac vickers and the government who at one point demanded boac carry the entire break-even cost of the vc-10 by ordering the full 80 units a figure of 45 aircraft was settled upon but only in exchange for the remaining 35 units being filled by additional boeing 707 420s powered by rolls-royce conway low-bypass turbofan engines boac relenting to use the vc10 did little to help spur on enthusiasm for the airliner and in the end the only other orders came from either british carriers such as british united airlines of the middle east and africa such as gulf air and east african airways or the royal air force the eventual build out of the vc10 programme being 54 units at an individual cost of 1.75 million pounds or 38 million pounds in 2021 the overall return on investment for the vc-10 was a mere 94.5 million pounds or only 67.5 percent of the required
breakeven figure the failure of the aircraft to reach its target being a devastating blow to both vicar's company and its successor the british aircraft corporation and while the vc-10 was lauded by passengers and crew for its smooth flight superb performance and quiet cabin it was rapidly superseded by larger more efficient models and by 1982 all passenger examples were out of service their future being entirely based on air-to-air tanker operations for the royal air force until final retirement in 2013 as an evolution of the preceding douglas dc-10 the mcdonald douglas md-11 was meant to bridge the gap between fledgling long-range twin jets like the airbus a300 and boeing 767 and high capacity quad jets like the boeing 747 and the upcoming airbus a340 the main purpose of the aircraft being to have a higher capacity and range than the former but a lower fuel consumption than the latter with studies beginning in 1981 under the original dc-10 super 60 designation and a formal launch of the project taking place in december 1986 the total development and construction cost of the md-11 was expected to be 1.5 billion dollars and enthusiasm among carriers was initially high as 52 firm orders and 40 options flooded in for the new trijet the aircraft's use of advanced technology improved capacity and higher efficiency through the fitting of winglets being heavily promoted throughout its early years sadly a complete retooling of the mcdonald douglas factory at long beach in california was required in order to allow for the construction of the md-11 in an efficient manner but due to the obligations of the company to fulfill its early orders the first series of md-11s had to be constructed at a significant loss in order to remain competitive on pricing the unit cost of a brand new md-11 being 100 million dollars but with an assembly cost of between 120 and 150 million dollars pushing the total development expense of the aircraft to 2.5 billion dollars by 1990. eventually the new tooling and work practices at long beach cut the assembly cost to 90 million dollars per aircraft allowing for an 11 working profit on each unit sold but by this point the airliner was now suffering harshly in terms of sales after it was found the md-11 had a less than advertised fuel efficiency and range with singapore airlines choosing to replace its order for 20 md-11s with an equivalent number of airbus a340 300 quad jets their efficiency woes being made worse following the launch of the airbus a330 twinjet in 1994 and the boeing 777 in 1995 airliners which could beat the md-11 on efficiency but could match it on performance and capacity against a projected break-even of 300 aircraft the md-11 was struggling to fill half this figure by the mid-1990s with this combined with a collapse in sales for the md-80 series of regional jets in the wake of the 1992 global economic recession wherein carriers turned instead to the more efficient airbus a320 and boeing 737 leading to the acquisition of mcdonald douglas by boeing in august 1997 in a 13 billion dollar stock swap the md-11 remaining in production solely as a freighter until it was discontinued in october 2000. the model only achieving a total
build out of 200 units while all passenger operations for the airliner had ceased by 2014 hot on the tail of the vickers vi count the dart herald was one of a slew of regional airliners attempting to cash in on the sudden but highly successful rise in turbo props during the early 1950s taking its first flight in 1955 in direct competition with the dutch fokker f-27 friendship as a high-wing monoplane airliner with four engines the crucial problem with the herald though was that the original prototype was powered by four 870 horsepower elvis leonida's major 14-cylinder radial piston engines in order to compensate for the performance of turboprops as hanley page were reluctant to adopt the rolls-royce dart turboprop engine and while the resultant herald prototype had excellent flight characteristics it simply couldn't compete with the comfort and efficiency of the emerging technology eventually hanley page redesigned the herald to adopt two rolls-royce dart engines producing 2105 horsepower but by the time the first heralds were delivered in october 1959 it was far too late the f-27 which had entered service nearly a year earlier having swept up the market for regional turbo props leaving both the herald and hanley page in a situation from which neither would recover against a break-even of 75 aircraft and a full build out of 300 units only 50 examples were built by the time production ended in 1968. the airline are only ever seeing widespread service with british carriers such as jersey airlines and british united airways before the final commercial operations of the type were carried out by british air ferries in 1987 or while the rival focker f-27 became a staple of airlines across the globe and continues to see active service today in a bid to tap into the emerging market for regional jets during the late 1990s and early 2000s both boeing and airbus desired the creation of a regional jet which presented commonality with both of their most successful domestic models the boeing 737 family and the airbus a320 range and therefore joint development began on the small sized airbus a318 and the boeing 737 600. the 737-600 came first being launched with scandinavian air services in march 1995 for use primarily across europe supplementing trunk routes to major capitals and on low demand regional services across scandinavia while the airbus a318 entered service with frontier airlines in 2003 working on similar routes across midwest america from the company's denver hub in both cases though the 737-600 and the a318 struggled to find buyers as while the aircraft were able to compete on capacity against small regional jets like the canadair crj and the embraer erj the economics of running such aircraft on short hops into regional and inner city airports made little sense the break-even of airliners with the fuel consumption of the boeing 737 and airbus a320 range being between 1200 and 1 500 miles far beyond the usual length of commuter flights envisaged originally by boeing and airbus's designers this combined with the aircraft being simply too large to operate into most small fields meant their sails flagged almost immediately after launch the airbus a318 faring slightly better than the 737-600 as it found a home with air france and frontier on the aforementioned low demand routes and supplementing main commuter operations the airbus selling 80 units against 69 boeing 737 600s in terms of longevity though the airbus a318 has fared worse than the 737 as due to its low capacity and non-standard nature carriers such as frontier found it was much more cost-effected to withdraw the aircraft and strip them for spares and so the last of their a318 operations took place in 2013 while the 737 600 was considered a far more useful tool on trans-european services and remained in operation with sas until it was replaced by airbus a320s in 2019 of the two wide body trijets to appear in the early 1970s the lockheed l-1011 tristar the company's first commercial jet airliner was far superior to the douglas dc-10 in many ways incorporating cutting-edge avionics such as a highly advanced autopilot system a cat3c auto landing system the first wide body to receive faa certification for this function and an inertial navigation system while also being constructed to a far higher standard pioneering the use of composites and other innovative materials for lightness and adopting an s-duct configuration for the tail-mounted engine to improve drag however unlike douglas lockheed had been offered in 1967 the use of the rolls-royce rb211 high bypass turbofan engine and considering that the use of a single engine type for the tristar would bring with it distinct advantages by way of a dedicated power plant for the airliner rather than a selection of possibly unsuitable engines from various manufacturers invested heavily in the project despite the fact that the rb-211 was suffering significant delays and cost overruns this came to a head in 1971 as while the dc-10 and l-1011 products were largely neck and neck by the end of 1970 the development cost for the rb-211 had risen to 170.3 million pounds double the original estimate and thus in january of that year rolls-royce was declared insolvent and collapsed into receivership on february 4th incurring significant delays to any airliner model that was expecting to receive rolls-royce power plants the tri-star being no exception as rolls-royce was nationalised by the conservative government of edward heath state funding brought the rb to 11 to completion but the launch of the lockheed tri-star was pushed back over a year to april 1972 six months after the dc-10 which meant the aircraft had been dealt a significant disadvantage against its rival while uncertainty as to the ability of rolls-royce to provide engines at a suitable level meant many prospective tri-star buyers cancelled their orders preferring instead either 747s or dc-10s to try and get the l-1011 sold lockheed turned to drastic measures including most notably a bribery scandal in 1975 wherein the company secretly provided payouts to members of the japanese government in order to subsidise the purchase of the airliners by al nippon airways which upon its discovery in early 1976 saw the arrest of japanese prime minister kakawai tanaka as well as several other officials and the resignation of lockheed's board chairman vice chairman and president while the fallout from the scandal cost the firm a 1.3 billion contract for 100 p3c orion anti-submarine aircraft for the japan maritime self-defense force the final nail in the coffin for the l-1011 came in 1979 when following promising discussions with the soviet union lockheed was to allow illusion the opportunity to build up to 100 tri-stars per year under licence plus the purchase of 30 tristars initially for use by aeroflot in order to cover delays for russia's own illusion il-86 wide body airliner but these talks collapsed when u.s president jimmy carter under the coordinating committee banned the potential sale of what was considered advanced technology to nations involved in human rights violations the ussr being listed as such and thereby axing any potential contract between itself and lockheed on december 8 1981 lockheed announced that they would end the tristar project and take a 400 million dollar write-off of losses the company calculating it had lost 2.5
billion dollars on the l-1011 program with an annual deficit of 199 million dollars the unfortunate tristar being finally put out to pasture in 1984 with only 250 aircraft built only half the forecast 500 airline is needed for the project to break even despite its many production woes however the tristar was a staple of many major carriers for over two decades with the last frontline use of the airliner taking place in the mid to late 2000s while the raf utilized the aircraft as an air-to-air tanker and transport aircraft until 2014 although as of 2021 only one l-1011 remains airworthy as part of the stargazer mothership launch pad for the pegasus low orbit launch vehicle proposed under the brabazon committee of 1943 in which it went under designation type 3 a requirement for a four-engined medium-range land plane for boac's empire routes the britannia would have been a major success for the british airliner market if it had been launched in the late 1940s as planned presenting the world with the first turboprop powered medium to long range airliner that would have easily outperformed the likes of the lockheed constellation and douglas dc6 on transatlantic services as well as on flights to the colonies of the british empire sadly problems developing the bristol proteus 765 turboprop engines combined with protestations made by boac as to a non-fatal inlet icing problem which was exaggerated out of proportion by the airline as it opted instead for the de havilland comet jet meant that public confidence and sales for the airliner were left in tatters compounded further by the launch of the aircraft into commercial service with boac in 1957 taking place only a year before the service entry of the boeing 707 jet airliner an aircraft which rewrote the book on civil aviation and would become the flagship of boac from 1960 rendering the britannia immediately obsolete after a few short years working on its intended empire routes and the transatlantic service boac saw off the britannia in 1966 after an influx of new 707s and vc-10s the orphaned airline are struggling on with second-hand carriers including the national airline or a communist cuba cubana before the final examples used in freight operation made their last flights during the 1990s in africa and south america only 80 of the 180 britannias needed to break even on the project ever being delivered another proposal from the brabusin committee under which it was designated type 5a a requirement for a 14 passenger feeder liner aircraft the marathon was the first of the brabazon proposals to be released in 1946 but before any production units were billed miles aircraft collapsed into bankruptcy in 1947 following a finance scandal that saw charges brought against company director sir william malcolm mount and company founder fg miles for making false and reckless statements in connection with the 1946 company share prospectus once the assets of the miles company had been brought up by hanley page marathon production resumed in the late 1940s but british european airways the company for which the airliner had been designed had lost all interest in the project preferring instead the brand new vicar's vice count turbo prop therefore the original order for 50 units was dropped in stages to 30 and eventually cancelled completely in 1952 the surplus units sold to the raf after production ended in 1951. against a break even 100 units only 43 marathons were delivered the aircraft seeing limited civilian use in west africa and across europe while the remainder formed the backbone of raf navigational trainer squadrons before retirement in 1962 with all units scrapped the only relic of this often forgotten aircraft being the upper fuselage of marathon m60 golf alpha mike golf whiskey now part of the miles collection forming part of the boeing 737 next generation family of airliners the 737-900 was the largest variant of the type being launched in 2001 with alaska airlines and able to carry 189 passengers putting it on par with both the earlier boeing 757-200 but also the rival airbus a321 the largest member of the airbus a320 range unfortunately the original 737 900 of 2001 had traded range for capacity meaning that with a flying distance of 2935 miles it struggled to compete with the airbus a321 and its range of 3200 miles allowing its european opponent to gather major success across the world especially in the united states with carriers such as u.s airways jetblue and delta airlines in the end boeing developed the 737-900 extended range or er an aircraft which introduced several major modifications to the original 737 900 design including the fitting of winglets and a larger fuel tank without compromising on the aircraft's capacity and upon its launch in 2007 the new 737 900 er was able to replace the boeing 757 while also presenting a more competitive model to the airbus a321 the 737 900 er now among the best-selling members of the 737 family with 505 units delivered as of 2020 while the original 737-900 saw its last sale in 2005 although many continue to see use with carriers such as alaska airlines intended to be the next evolution of the boeing 747 the 747 300 adopted many advanced design aspects from the preceding 747 200 including a stretched upper deck and a variety of aerodynamic changes in order to improve both its fuel consumption in the wake of the 1979 and 1980 oil crises but also to present a marginal cruising speed increase however as the 747 300 entered commercial service in march 1983 with swiss air boeing announced the 747 advanced series 300 project in early 1984 an aircraft which would completely overhaul the 747 design with new electronic flight instrument systems inherited from the boeing 757 and 767 twin jets and a myriad of technological and design upgrades the continued use of an analog panel and flight engineer in the 747-300 meaning the advantages provided by this airliner paled in comparison to what was quickly christened the 747-400 scheduled for launch in around 1989. with the prospect of a far more advanced 747 model now under development carriers chose instead to wait for the brand new 747 400 while also continuing to invest in the preceding 747 200 the 300 languishing with poor sales until the launch of its far superior stablemate after which the last unit was sold to sabine in september 1990 a year after the entry of the 747 400 into service and a year before the 747 200 it was meant to replace was finally retired from production a clear sign of the 300's inability to compete emphasized as no american carrier took on the type it instead being the mainstay of foreign clients such as qantas swissair sabina and pakistan international airlines the last passenger units being withdrawn in 2015 while only two examples are known to still be airworthy in cargo rolls as of 2021 perhaps the most technologically advanced airliner ever built concorde was meant to be the brave new face of air travel during the late 1960s and early 1970s by introducing the concept of supersonic passenger transportation to the world carrying an anticipated cost to the two respective governments of approximately 70 million pounds or 311 million in 2021 with the average unit cost for an individual aircraft standing at 23 million pounds or 169.3 million in 2021 sadly while optimism was high for concord during the late 1960s with up to 66 units on order by 1972 across the globe the harsh realities of operating the airliner quickly came to bear specifically when the aircraft's horrendous fuel efficiency which fell swiftly into a dim light following the 1973 oil crisis and the comparatively small airframe which was only capable of accommodating 100 passengers further embarrassment came with the launch of the rival chupalev tu-144 a soviet facsimile of the concorde which had been created through information acquired by a widespread network of spies within bac aerospacial and the french and british governments the resulting airliner cruising through the sound barrier six months before concorde before suffering a horrendous crash at the 1973 paris air show the loss of what was dubbed konkordski together with an injunction by the us government to have the aircraft banned in america for fear of sonic booms over highly populated areas being the death knell for concorde as orders rapidly dropped until eventually only the orders for british airways and air france were honoured though due to the losses incurred the airliners were leased to the two carriers from their respective governments and operations subsidised against a proposed break-even of 55 units only 16 production concordes were ever assembled by the time the last one entered service in 1979 and despite these airliners seeing their peak in the 1980s as the true play thing for the ridge they were only ever restricted to operations across the north atlantic between new york washington dc paris and london plying their trade until november 2003 when after the tragic loss of an air france concord in 2000 the fallout of the post-9 11 market crash a spike in fuel prices and a lack of ongoing maintenance support by aerospacial successor airbus all surviving members were retired to the quiet life of museum pieces the failure of the original 737-100 can be owed directly to the largest 737-200 which was launched alongside it during the mid-1960s the 200 possessing both a greater capacity and improved performance which made it ideal for airliners looking for a cheaper twin jet alternative to the highly successful boeing 727 the 737-100 meanwhile at just 94 feet in length and carrying only 103 passengers was more arrival to regional jets like the fokker f-28 but came at a greater operating expense meaning it was largely unappealing to the wider aviation market and thus removed from sales after only two years in production or while the 737-200 continued to be sold as late as 1988.
failing to meet its break-even of 180 aircraft the 3737 100s produced were sold to a small number of carriers the most prominent of which were lufthansa malaysia singapore airlines or msa and avianca colombia nearly all examples of the type having been withdrawn by the end of the 1990s while the prototype was operated by nasa until september 2003 after use as a flying laboratory much like the boeing 747 sp the evis a340 500 as the final variant of the a340 family to be released attempted to tap into the somewhat niche market of ultra long-haul flights that began to make a resurgence during the late 1990s the aircraft differing from its a340 300 stablemate through a 14 foot longer fuselage length to carry an extra 18 passengers the fitting of a larger wing area for added lift and the use of rolls-royce trent 553 turbofan engines giving the aircraft the longest flight range of any jet airliner to that point with a range of 9000 miles the a340 500 perfectly suited the new wave of ultra long-haul operations but by the time of its release in 2003 it had entered an austere market still recovering from the attacks of 911 meaning that the demand for ultra-long-haul services had dropped away to only a handful of routes leaving the model as a highly expensive version of the a340 300 which provided only 18 extra seats at a substantial loss compounded further by the launch of the a340 600 in 2002 as the largest member of the a340 family and at the time the world's longest aircraft while the a340 500 was put to work on the few remaining ultra-long-haul routes including the world's single longest flight from singapore to newark new jersey many of these routes had dried up by the mid-2010s due to low passenger numbers and by the end of the decade only two examples were left in service with azerbaijan airlines the remainder having been stripped for spares and scrapped one of the two initial versions of the airbus a340 made available for sale the a340 200 was designed to be a shorter aircraft with a longer range to its sister the a340 300 being 14 feet shorter carrying 16 fewer passengers but having a range improvement to 500 nautical miles however the a340 200 was still a four engine jet airliner and thus could only truly make its money back with higher amounts of capacity in order to cover its operating costs therefore it suffered commercially when compared to the a340 300 being only operated by lufthansa and air france while all other examples were used by the french air force the last a34200 was retired from commercial service in 2017 by egyptian airline air leisure while the remainder have either been scrapped or in the service of middle eastern governments as vip transports based on the de havilland heron the st-27 replaced the original's ford de havilland gypsy queen piston-powered engines with pratt and whitney canada pt6a27 turboprops applying this originally to 13 surplus airframes before a first flight of the type was undertaken in may 1969 the hopes being that the airliner would present a potential rival to the hanley page jet stream project in england sadly despite seeing up to 52 million canadian dollars of investment from the manitoba provincial government and with a break even set at 91 units the project struggled to get certification in the united states and eventually amid mounting losses and the protracted development of the improved st-28 the government pulled its funding and the project was cancelled in 1976 after only 12 examples the aircraft seeing only limited use with canadian regional carriers and colombian carrier aces as the boeing 707 and douglas dc8 began to redraw the lines of commercial aviation the convair division of american aerospace manufacturer general dynamics elected to outdo these models by way of a jet airliner that would put speed over capacity the intention being to design an aircraft that would overtake the 707 and dc8 on coast to coast runs within the continental usa and thereby attract customers with its 615 mile an hour cruising speed sadly convair's proposal backfired in that while the airliner was indeed much faster than the 707 or dc8 what speed it gained came at the price of capacity and fuel consumption the 880 due to drag concerns that couldn't be overcome not being able to fly the entire coast to coast run on a single tank while traveling at its full cruising speed requiring at least one refueling stopover while its rivals could undertake the journey non-stop which meant the one performance advantage it had over the competition was lost eventually what customers were presented with was a slightly faster but very small and very thirsty jet airliner that had little to no economic or performance benefits over the 707 and dc8 and therefore few companies took on the type those airlines that did adopt the 880 only flying it for no more than a decade before the last units were withdrawn from frontline service by the mid-1970s or commercial passenger operations of the type being ended before the turn of the 1980s while the design of the mercure showed potential though many noted its similarities to the boeing 737 the main problem with this aircraft was its disappointingly short flying distance of 1295 miles a mere fraction compared to the 737 200 2900 mile range and the douglas dc-9's 1800 mile range though this may have made it ideal for short hops on high demand routes such as london to paris the general consensus was that it fell into a hole in the market between smaller but more efficient regional jets and larger short to medium haul jets meaning like the boeing 737-600 it was a large aircraft with a high fuel consumption unable to perform short-haul boots economically against a break-even of 150 units the mercure was a sales catastrophe with attempts to create an extended range version as well as a prospective partnership with american manufacturer lockheed to get the airliner sold in america failing to materialize the eventual build out of the type being only 12 units all of which were sold to french domestic carrier air ontario though the mercure was a highly successful and safe aircraft on the routes it served with air ontario being incredibly reliable and having a clean safety record by the early 1990s the non-standard nature of these planes meant they were quickly slated for replacement and with the introduction of airbus a320s the mercure disappeared from service in 1997 attempting to address the ranging capacity issues that had ruined the sales of the preceding 880 convair created a modified version of the airliner which was larger in size but still maintained the speed of its predecessor the 990 coronado differing by way of a slightly larger fuselage though still smaller than the 707 and through the fitting of overwing pods which serve to increase the size of the fuel tanks however the inclusion of these pods increased the drag thereby requiring more power to maintain a competitive service speed which resulted in the range of the aircraft once again being compromised the 990 like the 880 suffering woeful sails that saw both models discontinued by 1965. although the enduring legacy of both the 880 and the 990 was that it allowed for increased manufacturing capacity at the company's san diego factory ideal for building the fuselages of commercial airliners resulting in the firm being able to recoup its losses through the third-party assembly of airframes for the mcdonald douglas dc-10 kc-10 and md-11 regardless of its flaws though the 990 did see entry into service with many major carriers including american airlines swissair and sas but by the beginning of the 1970s it was clear that there was no economic future for the thirsty undersized 990 and therefore their original role with primary carriers was replaced by the bread and butter work of charter airlines such as spantax before the final units were withdrawn in the early 1990s while many theories circulate as to the collapse of the vfw 614 including the crash of its first prototype the bankruptcy of soul engine provider rolls royce and a possible conspiracy by dutch partner focker to deliberately sabotage the model by controlling the aircraft's marketing thus assuring its failure against the rival focker f-28 through poor promotion the main reason as to its failure is a mixture of all three combined also with a lack of recognition as to the vfw brand against a proposed break-even of 300 units the vfw focus 614 was unloved and unrecognized within the commercial aviation market and it would take two years from the first flight of the aircraft for it to be purchased by simba air of denmark eventually ending up in the fleets of three carriers all of which were based in western europe as a result of the 614's failure the vfw company collapsed in 1981 and with the prospect of technical support being lost the three carriers that had either bought or leased the airliner returned them to vfw whereupon most were scrapped although some units continued to see work into the 2000s with the luftwaffe and flying laboratories essentially a french equivalent to the ill-fated bristol brabazon the sn case sce-2010 armagnac was first conceived in 1942 during the height of the second world war and france's occupation by nazi germany the proposal being for a post-war large-scale airliner which would be able to accommodate sleeping berths on overnight flights to the french colonies of the far east specifically french indochina with two versions of the airframe planned a 60-passenger sleeper and a lineup of 84 108 and 160 passenger day seating variants following a protracted development the first prototype flew in april 1949 with intentions being for the first 15 aircraft to be introduced with air france on the colonial routes with options for another 15 units but due to the loss of the prototype in a crash on january 30th 1950 together with its sluggish performance and underwhelming five thousand kilometer range which fell below the required range of six thousand five hundred kilometers air france abandoned its order in 1952 after nine aircraft had been produced and with no other potential buyers assembly of the armagnac ceased immediately now with a behemoth airliner left without a roll its proposed accommodation of three tier bunk beds was never realized although following the purchase of four units by tai in late 1952 these spacious machines were fitted with six suppressed seating giving the aircraft wide body capacity that wouldn't be seen again until the rise of the jet age in the early 1960s with the boeing 707 and douglas dc-8 unfortunately tai found it difficult to fill these gigantic aircraft and retired them from service after only eight months while later used by sagittar in 1953 saw the armagnac put to work on mail and cargo flights between toulouse and saigon in french indochina later also seeing use as troop transport during the first indo-china war as it reached its conclusion in 1954. the end of french rule in the newly formed states of vietnam cambodia and laos meaning the armagnac was once again left without a purpose as routes to saigon was severed in the end most of these airliners were broken up by 1955 after seeing little to no use although one foxtrot bravo alpha victor india was operated extensively in australia throughout the late 1950s before being deposited at bordeaux meriniak airport where upon it sat decaying for over a decade until it was finally scrapped in 1975 bringing an end to the short and inauspicious career of france's gigantic flying sleeper plane you