CP Air's Fleet of McDonnell Douglas DC-10's

The McDonnell Douglas DC10 is a medium to long range wide body airliner which began development in 1967. In consultation with launch customer American Airlines, the DC10 was originally conceived as a twinjet, but a third engine was added to the design to enable the aircraft to use existing runways. The DC10 program was launched with firm orders from American and United in February 1968. The first DC10 took to the air on August 29 1970 and entered commercial service with American and United in mid August 1971, nearly a year earlier than the Lockheed L1011 which was built to similar specifications.

The DC10-10 was the initial version which was designed for domestic routes with a maximum seating capacity of 380. Power was supplied by 3 GE CF6-6D high bypass turbofan engines each delivering 40,000 lbs of thrust. Also produced was the DC10-15 which was designed to be used at hot high-altitude airports. This series was fitted with higher thrust GE CF6-50C2F turbofans each producing 46,500 lbs of thrust. A total of 7 DC10-15s were built and delivered to Mexicana and Aeromexico.

In mid 1983 CP Air cross-leased three DC10-30s with United Air Lines for three DC10-10s. All 10 Series aircraft were painted in the CP Air livery but retained their US registrations. The aircraft were mainly used on domestic routes within Canada. A fourth DC10-10 was leased for a short time from United in 1985 while two of CP Air's DC10-30s were being fitted with long range fuel tanks. The 3 cross-leased DC10s continued on into the merger with Canadian Airlines.

Thanks to Carl Vetter
Development of the DC10 continued with the introduction of the series 30 and 40. The DC10-40 was the first long range version of the DC10. Originally designated as the DC10-20, it was later changed to the DC10-40 at the request of Northwest Orient the launch customer. The series 40 was fitted with PW JT9D turbofan engines the same power plant found on the early 747s. All 42 DC10-40s built were delivered to Northwest Orient and Japan Air Lines.

The DC10-30 was the most successful variant of the DC10 series. The aircraft is very similar to the series 40, but came equipped with GE CF6-50 engines. It entered service with launch customers KLM and Swissair late in 1972. With typical payload the aircraft can carry 250 to 270 passengers over 4500 miles. Additional variants of the DC10-30 included the 30CF (Convertible Passenger/Freighter), the 30ER (Extended Range) and the 30F (Freighter). Due to its greater fuel capacity and therefore higher takeoff weight than the series 10, both the DC10-30 and 40 sport a 3rd main landing gear. The extra main, consisting of 2 wheels, extends from the centre of the fuselage. In all 206 DC10-30s were built.
The final DC10 rolled of the production line in 1989 with a total of 386 being delivered. In addition to civil versions of the DC10 a military variant known as the KC-10A Extender was produced. Based on the DC10-30 platform these aircraft were used as tankers by the US Air Force to perform midair refueling. They entered service in 1981 with a total of 60 units being produced. CP Air took delivery of its first DC10-30 in March of 1979 with two more being added in July and November of the same year. By March 1982 the DC10-30 fleet had increased to eight examples.
CP Air utilized these aircraft on their international routes to Europe, South America and the Pacific. All eight DC10-30s were carried over into the merger with Canadian Airlines.

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CP Air's Fleet of Boeing 747's

With the explosion in air travel during the 1960s led by the 707, Boeing began development on the 747. Boeing had already been involved in a study to provide the US military with a large transport aircraft. When the contract was awarded to Lockheeds C-5 Galaxy, Boeing came under pressure by Pan Am to develop a large commercial transport capable of carrying between 350 and 490 passengers. Using knowledge gained from the military design Boeing came up with a preliminary configuration for the first wide bodied commercial aircraft. Pan Am ordered 25 of the initial 747-100 and became the launch customer. In order to construct such a large aircraft Boeing had to build a new plant. The facility was built in Everett Washington 30 miles north of Seattle. The first development 747 rolled out from the Everett plant on September 30 1968. Its maiden flight was originally planned for December 17 1968, the 65th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight, however this was delayed and did not occur until February 9 1969. Deliveries to Pan Am began on December 12 1969 with certification being granted on December 30 1969. Pan Am commenced commercial service with the 747-100 on January 22 1970 between New York and London.

Development continued quickly with the higher gross weight 747-200B entering service with KLM in early 1971. The 200B had a higher fuel capacity and was fitted with more powerful engines with increased fuel efficiency. Range with a typical payload increased to over 5000 miles.

CP Air took delivery of its first 747-200B CF-CRA on November 15 1973. When it arrived at CP's Vancouver base its gleaming hull reflected the curiosity of hundreds of the airline's employees. "Wonderment & fascination matched their thinly disguised feelings of satisfaction that this orange giant was their very own ticket to the jumbo era" wrote the editor of the employee newsletter CP Air News. A second 747 joined the fleet by the end of the year followed by two more by the end of 1974 at a cost of $26 million each. As was typical of the time many airlines ordered 747s with a bar located in the upper deck. CP Air was no different, in fact Canadian Pacific being proud of its railway origins, had the bar in CF-CRA decorated with various railway memorabilia. However, with rising oil prices during the mid 70s such luxuries became a thing of the past and these lounges were replaced by seats to increase airline revenue.
CP Air operated its 747s on long haul routes to Europe, Asia and Australia. In October of 1985 it was announced that the 747s were being sold to Pakistan International Airlines in exchange for four DC10-30s.

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CP Air's Fleet of the Future

On June 5, 1963, President John F. Kennedy formed the National Supersonic Transport program, which committed the government to subsidizing 75% of the development costs of a commercial airliner to compete with Concorde. The Boeing 2707 was developed as the first American supersonic transport (SST). After winning the competition for the government-funded contract to build an American SST, Boeing began development at its facilities in Seattle, Washington but rising costs, the lack of a clear market, and increasing outcry over the environmental effects of the aircraft (notably sonic boom) led to the cancellation of government funding by the United States Congress and subsequently the program ended in 1971 before two prototypes had been completed.

Many of the era's big airlines expressed interest in the SST project including CP Air. The airline had a history of looking to the future as far back as when then CPAL president Grant McConachie persuaded his board of directors to purchase two de Havilland Comet 1A’s, the world’s first jet airliner. Although those acquisitions proved disastrous, CP Air continued with its desire to be looked upon as a truly world class airline and later on during the SST era committed to buy in along with other airlines such as Pan Am & TWA.

Long before the SST concept was being worked on, former president Grant McConachie also had thoughts on what the future of passenger flight might hold. Always ahead of his time, by the 1960's he had already worked out a flight plan for a hypersonic aircraft of the future that would operate from San Francisco to Tokyo in 27 minutes with the passengers being strapped into the horizontal position. During his time it was a common assumption that by this day and age (present time) airliners would be accelerating perhaps 25 times past the speed of sound and even flying in low earth orbits. At the time of this writing this has yet to come to fruition.

Another plane that was destined to wear the orange livery but never did was the Boeing 767. CP Air initially ordered four of them in 1981 for delivery sometime in 1983 but later asked Boeing for deferral of the order twice. In 1983 the order for the four planes was cancelled entirely by then airline president Daniel Colussy in a cost cutting move, ten 737’s were ordered instead. Eventually Boeing 767’s would fly for the airline but under the red white and blue livery of Canadian Airlines International.

The following scans are from the Canadian Pacific employee newsletter, Spanner (March 1964) which detail CPA's order for the American SST. Click to enlarge.