DC-10s AT CANADIAN AIRLINES
The DC-10 was designed in the 1960's by Douglas as roughly the same as Lockheed was designing another three-engined aircraft, the L-1011. These aircraft were designed as DC-8/B-707 replacements with a maximum seating for up to 350 passengers
The earliest model DC-10, the DC-10-10, first flew in 1970., but Canadian Pacific Airlines waited until the long-range DC-10-30 was available, selecting and placing an initial order for four aircraft of this type with deliveries to commence in 1979. At roughly the same time, Wardair (another component airline absorbed by Canadian Airlines), ordered two DC-10-30's, taking delivery in late 1978.
For economic reasons (largely due to the second OPEC oil crisis), the first two DC-10's that were delivered to Canadian Pacific Airlines (CP Air in those days) in March and April 1979, were immediately leased to Varig Airlines in Brazil until June 1980. As a result, the first DC-10 to enter service was the third aircraft delivered, entering revenue service with CP Air in November 1979. By late-1980, all four of the original DC-10's ordered by CP Air were in service with the airline, including the two that had been leased to Varig. In 1981 and 1982, three more factory-ordered DC-10-30's entered service with CP Air, for a total of seven. As well, in 1982, CP Air acquired an 8th DC-10-30 from Singapore Airlines, which was diverting itself of DC-10's. Wardair had acwuired a sister ship, also from Singapore Airlines, in 1981, bringing their fleet to three. All three of Wardair's aircraft remained in their fleet until 1988/1989 when they were sold to the aircraft leasing firm GPA.
In the period referred above, CP Air's DC-10's were assigned to routes to Europe, Hawaii, and Sydney, Australia. Wardair's aircraft were assigned to their international charter routes.
Over the years several changes have occured to the composition of CP Air's/Canadian Airlines' DC-10 fleet. Cost cutting forced on the airline due to mounting losses starting in 1981 meant that fleet rationalization had to take place. New president Dan Colussy arranged for a cross-leasing arrangement with United Airlines involving three aircraft from each airline. United had been awarded a new route between Seattle and HongKong and needed an aircraft with considerably more range than their DC-10-10 fleet, whereas CP Air was using some of its long-range DC-10-30 capacity on shorter routes, such as transcontinental routes within Canada, which was a relative inefficient use of heavy, fuel inefficient aircraft. In early 1983, the cross-lease arrangement took place, with authorities in both the US and Canada agreeing that the aircraft would retain their original registrations. This meant that all of CP Air's DC-10 crews had to be issued with the appropriate American commercial license, which was a bit of bureaucratic nightmare for the airline's administrative staff. In 1987 the aircraft were returned to their original operators. United had made modifications to the cabin interior of the CP aircraft and added an additional fuel tank in the aft cargo compartementin order to enable a Seattle-HongKong nonstop service. These modifications were extended to two other CP Air aircraft foir a total of five of what was known as the DC-10-30ER model types, aircraft with a heavier gross take-off weight, slightly more engine thrust and longer range with additional fuel capacity. All five of the modified aircraft still form part of Canadian Airline's DC-10 fleet to this day.
In 1985, under new president Don Carty, it was decided to realize CP Air's fleet of international aircraft to one type only, the DC-10, and to retire its four aging B-747-200's. From late 1985 through late 1986 CPAir's four B-747-200's were exchanged for four DC-10-30's from Pakistan International Airlines, bringing the DC-10 total to 12 aircraft. After the formation of Canadian Airlines 1987, one of those aircraft was returned to its owner, Polaris Leasing in 1989 (this aircraft, tail number 909, was nearly destroyed ina ground fire at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport earlier in 1989 after a faulty ballast powering a flourescent light fixture in one of the aft galleys caught fire while the aircraft was between flights), and in 1991 the other three were sold to Potomac Leasing of Washington, DC, who in turn, leased the aircraft to Varig in Brazil. The DC-10'S, now with Canadian Airlines, flew a variety of routes, includes to Asia, Europe, South America, Hawaii and New Zealand as back and forth across Canada.
In 1995, two of the ex-Pakistan Airlines' aircraft that had been sold to Potomac Leasing and operated by Varigbecame available and were leased back to Canadian Airlines to fulfill capacity requirements.
In December, 1996, the aircraft that had been acquired from Singapore Airlines in 1982 was returned to its current owner, J.L. Rocky Leasing, and it is now being operated by Continental Airlines.
In June, 1998, Canadian Airlines will place in service the latestaddition to Canadian Airlines ' DC-10 fleet. This aircraft was owned and operated by Varig Airlines (Brazil) and has been sold a leasing company who is, in turn, leasing it to us.
The DC-10 has been known by various "nick-names" over the years. Early in its existence it was labeled as the "Douglas Death Cruiser" by some of our pilots, due to its rocky introduction to airline service. Its unsavory reputation stemmed primarily from the problems it had with outward operning cargo doors, which were introduced to maximize the volume for the containerized cargo system. Unfortunately, a faulty latch system led to one incident and one terrible accident. The first incidentinvolved a United Airlines (?) DC-10-10 that was climbing out op Buffalo In November, 1971, when a cargo door blew open but although the aircraft was damaged, the captain was able to land the aircraft safely. The infamous accident occured to Turkish Airlines Flight 981 on March 3rd, 1974 with another DC-10-10, this time in France, when the blowing open of a cargo door caused a sudden decompression, collapsing the floor and destroying the flight controls. All aboard perished. On May 25, 1979, an American Airlines DC-10-10 lost an engine (literally; it came adrift from the airframe) on takeoff from Chicago. The problems with the cargo doors and engine mounts were solved and since that time the DC-10 has proven to be a very safe and comfortable aircraft to fly in.
Although the early problems with the DC-10 were restricted to the -10 seriews, tehre were many passengers who were reluctant to fly any DC-10. Little wonder that CP Air management asked its employees to ensure the new DC-10's entering service with us were clearly identified as DC-10-30's.
The "Douglas Death Cruiser" label was also used notably by certain former B-747-200 pilots who were displaced onto the lower paying DC-10 after CPAir's 747's went to Pakistan in exchange for DC-10's in the mid 1980's.
As the years have gone by, the DC-10 has attracted more complimentary names, such as the "Douglas Diner". This name comes about because the DC-10 is the only 3 pilot aircraft we have left at Canadian Airlines, and the second officer's seat with its own table in the cockpithas become a favorite place for all DC-10 pilots to "dine", as opposed to balanceing a meal tray on a pillow on one's lap.
On the longest of flights that the DC-10 accomplishes, an extra, or augment pilot is assigned to the crew, thus providing 4 pilots so that crew members can be relieved of duty in rotation and the off-duty time is usually spent in the crew bunk. This role, on the DC-10, is known as "dozing for dollars".
The DC-10 has been in service a long time and there is still a very high percentage of them still flying. They are a desirable aircraft on the used plane market, and operators such as Northwest, Continental and FedEx continue to add to their fleets. the aircraft is characterised by an extremely strong airframe, as evidence by the accident Canadian suffered over 2 1/2 years ago. On October 19, 1995, one of our DC-10-30ER's was departing Vancouver for Taipei (Flight CP17) at maximum gross weight when it experienced an engine failure right at the engine failure decision speed (V1). The subsequent high speed rejected take.off resulted in the aircraft departing the end of the runway at 40 knots. Although the nosewheel collapsed and there was substantial airframe damage, there was no serious injuries and the aircraft was not written off. After being out of service for a few months and undergoing repairs with the assistance of a team from Douglas, the aircraft re-entered service and has been operating since then without a problem. The United accident in Sioux City several years ago is another testimony to the strength of the DC-10 airframe.
It appears that there are several years left in the life expectancy of the DC-10, as evidenced by the number of operators who are spending large sums of money to convert passenger models to cargo models.
The DC-10 is known as a true pilot's airplane, and anyone who has ever flown it loves its stability in virtually all conditions and the relative ease with which a smooth landing can be made. Many former DC-10 pilots who have gone to the B-747-400 will state that the DC-10 is a superior aircraft in turbulence with its smoother ride.
In terms of technology, the DC-10 is a transistional airplane. The autopilot system is computer controlled, an although it was quite advanced for its time, recent aircraft technology is far more advanced. Most DC-10's are still navigatec with Inertial Navigation Systems that were developed in the 1960's, although avionics vendors are beginning to offer GPS replacement or augmentation systems for the aircraft. As well, eletronic flight instruments and indicators are now being offered for the original equipment traditional electro-mechanical flight instruments and gauges.
With Canadian Airlines, the DC-10 has proven to be versatile. Its payload capability (90, 000 lbs+) means that a full passenger load can be carried with considerable cargo over most routes that are operated. The longestb route the aircraft currently flies is Toronto to Tokyo and it is versatile enough to fly stage lenghts efficiently down to routes within Canada such as Vancouver-Calgary-Toronto, although its is primarily an international aircraft. There are 9 DC-10's in Canadian's fleet now, with a tenth to be added June 1 of this year, and the one situation that could bring about an early retirement of the DC-10 would be a sudden sharp increase in the price of oil. Fuel efficiency is not one of the DC-10's strenghts.
Total airframe hours on Canadians DC-10's range from a high of approximately 81, 500 hours to a low of about 66, 000 hours. These are high time aircraft but no announcement has been made to retire them in the near term, so Canadian's superior maintenance program will keep them flying for several more years yet.
Tony Archbold, ex DC-10 chief pilot, Canadian Airlines International