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Post #73256, posted on 09-04-2019 GMT-5 hours
While the legendary airliners get a "Last Call" as their production comes to a close, there would be no "Last Call" for Boeing's least successful design, the 737-100. There would be a surprise final -100 sales proposal in the Spring of 1969 to a small Gulf Trucial States airline Gulf Aviation Company Ltd. Though the 737-100 proposal lost out to the One-Eleven, Boeing, the later renamed Gulf Air and the 737-200 Adv. would eventually have a happy reunion! Actually, Boeing never 'officially' announced the end of the 737-100, it was quietly put to rest in October 1969, when Boeing announced the new 737-200 Advanced would be the model for 1971 and all future deliveries.
While the Boeing 737's beginnings have been well documented, Lufthansa's role has been less discussed.
By 1962, Lufthansa was in the process of future planning for it's mostly piston European fleet. The Boeing 727 order was the key starting point. Commonality was to be a major factor but Lufthansa officials would be split on the next aircraft. By 1964, Lufthansa had (3) major options, the One-Eleven, favored by German Chancellor, the F28 and the Douglas DC-9, which was a favorite of of Lufthansa's Executive and Supervisory Boards.
Professor Gerhard Hoeltje, Lufthansa's Executive Board member in charge of Engineering would become the major player in the final decision.
In May 1964, Boeing's President Bill Allen, gave the go-ahead for the company to invest $500,000 and 3- months to evaluate the potential Twin-Jet market. In July, Boeing officials went to Germany and the relationship with Lufthansa and especially Professor Hoeljte was well underway. While back home, Boeing engineers began the 737 proposals between the T-Tail and Wing mounted teams, Professor Hoeljte would hold off Lufthansa officials who were getting close to decision time in hopes that Boeing would present something.
By November 1964, the basic 737 model was finalized. 82-86 Economy Class seating with a length of 81ft. 10in. and wingspan of 84ft and a GW of 79,000lbs. While United and Eastern Airlines were the only major U.S. airlines that hadn't committed to the Twin-Jets, Professor Hoeltje loved the 737 and would continue to block the political pressure inside Lufthansa, to buy the One-Eleven or DC-9.
(Boeing 86-seat 737 Proposal)
For the next 3-months, there would be a 'Stand-off', as Boeing wouldn't commit to the 737 until they received a major a U.S. launch order which neither United or Eastern would commit to. Lufthansa had been set on an 86-passenger aircraft, since the 727's were then planned as a 96-passenger configuration. By January 1965, Lufthansa had 2nd thoughts on the capacity needs and now asked for a larger 737 proposal of no fewer than 100 seating in an all high-density layout!
The 'Stand-off' reached it's peak on February 19, 1965, as Lufthansa's Supervisory Board was meeting at
10am. The Supervisory's Technical Committee was favoring the slightly larger 737 but Boeing would not commit, as they were still hoping for a U.S. launch customer. Back in Seattle, at 2am, Boeing's Vice President of The Transport Division was awakened by a phone call from Boeing's European Sales Executive.
Lufthansa wanted an assurance that Boeing would go-ahead with the 737 project if the airline placed an order. Back at Cologne, the word was passed on, Boeing would build the 737 with just a Lufthansa order!
(Boeing 737 1965)
United Airlines announced on April 2nd, at 2pm, as the cut-off time for the final proposals from BAC, Douglas and Boeing. Douglas made a last ditch proposal that offered to accept United's (20) Caravelle's as trade-ins for the DC-9 but United chose the slightly larger 737-200. Though United's -200 order would be the more significant, it didn't get as much specific Boeing press coverage, as the order was a combined announcement the included (9) DC-8's [Sixty-series and Srs 54CF's], (6) 727QC's and (20) standard 727's.
Just after the United order was announced, Boeing's 737 line-up was for 5 basic models; 737-100, 737-100E (trans-ocean Executive version), 737-100C/QC (with a 7.2 ft wide cargo door), a 737M (military CX proposal) and the 737-200. Interestingly, at this early stage, Boeing was keeping the -100 as the only Cargo version, as they would do with the 727 but that would change, which would lead to a little reported 3-yr battle over the size of the cargo door! (which will be covered shortly)
______________________________________Boeing 737-100 Orders__________________________________
(Boeing 1966 Brochure)
As it was to turn out, the 737-100 quickly had become too small for any other interior than the 100-passeneger all-Tourist configuration and all of the orignal ordering airlines chose that seating arrangement!
___________________________________ Lufthansa German Airlines__________________________________
Launch customer Lufthansa announced it's order on February 22, 1965. The (21) -130 order was valued at $65-67 million and an additional (3) -130's were ordered in September 1967 but (2) of the (3) would be cancelled (not a good sign for the 737-100). The 737 order was illustrated in the 727 scheme w/Block titles. This changed in the Spring of '67, as the new lower case titles were introduced on the new 727QC that were being delivered. The Lufthansa "Europa Jets" would replace the Convair 440's and Viscounts.
The first U.S. airline to order the 737-100 was San Francisco's Pacific Airlines. In September 1965, Pacific ordered (4) -193's for an estimated $15 million. The deal also included a pair of leased standard 727's that would help Pacific introduce Jets in 1966. As part of the deal, Pacific was given 1-yr to upgrade to the larger 737-200 and in fact the airline did but the 1968 Air West merger would end the 737 deal though legally, Boeing did delivery the first (2) 737-293's to Pacific, who then immediately sold them plus (2) converted options to the San Francisco based leasing company GATX-Armco-Boothe.
______________________________________ Mexicana Airlines_______________________________________
Little remembered in 737 history, Mexicana Airlines announced a combined Boeing order in October 1965.
(2) 737-164's along with (2) 727-64's were ordered for an estimated $20 million. The 737's were planned for the expected heavy air traffic during upcoming 1968 Mexico Summer Olympics. The Mexican 737 order would never see delivery, as the airline nearly went bankrupt in late 1967! (2) of it's (3) 727's were impounded by the Bank Of America for non-payments of debt. Eventually Mexicana would be reorganized but the 737 would have to be sacrificed and the order was quietly cancelled in January 1968......
By the time of the next 737-100 order, (20) months would pass and by this point, the Boeing Sales Team was trying to steer potential customers towards the larger -200. In January 1967, Avainca announced a combined Boeing order for (2) 737-159's, (2) 727-59's and (1) 707-359B for an estimated $30 million.
Though Avianca, already a Boeing customer, would continue to build it's Boeing fleet, the 737's would become a headache for Boeing! Avianca chose the 737 standard P&W -7's, the same as the 727 but they soon realized that the new -159's became restrictive operating out of their 8,000ft home base of Bogota! The 2nd issue was the 737's often ingested runway debris from some of the village airports. Avianca's 737's did eventually obtain the 1969 Roher thrust reverser kits supplied at no cost by Boeing. Finally in September 1971, Boeing got rid of the headache and worked out a trade-in deal. Avianca would get (3) 727-24C's that had been returned by Continental and had been stored since late '68! Boeing would sell the -159's to the German Air Force (will be covered later in detail)
_________________________________ Malaysia-Singapore Airlines__________________________________
What would be the final 737-100 order would be from MSA in May 1967. The order was for (5) -112's with the optional P&W JT8D-9 engines and in the usual all-Tourist 100 seating. MSA's -112's would be used on routes connecting Singapore ans Kuala Lampur with other SE Asia cities. MSA had a year earlier ordered it's first 707-312C's. The (5) -112's would roll off the assembly-line during the end of 1969...
Though they did nit order the -100, Lufthansa's subsidiary, Condor Flugdienst would be the earliest non-order airliner to use the 737-100. Beginning in August 1969, Condor began using a trio of Lufthansa -130's as they planned to increase the German charter market from 33% to nearly 40%. At the time Condor was operating (141) flights a week to (27) destinations using the (3) 737's and (6) 727's.
The 2nd earliest non-ordering 737-100 airline was Aloha, who in October 1968 made an unusual decision to change from the BAC One-Eleven to the Boeing 737-200, though all of the original switched over Boeings would be leased from GATX-Armco-Boothe. Aloha was in a heated battle with Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha's -200's would squeeze in (118) passengers! By April 1969, Aloha had (7) -200's and it wouldn't be until the Fall of 1973, that Aloha had a pair of 737-100's. Those would come from Germany when the Luftwaffe had to sell back the (2) ex-Avianca -159's due to political pressure (will be covered later!) In March-April 1973, Boeing sold N7315 to Aloha and leased N7317 which a year-later, Aloha purchased. The airline would squeeze in (106) passengers on the pair of -159's "Funbirds"!!
As with the One-Eleven and DC-9, an 'Executive' -100 was announced and Boeing 'officially' unveiled it's new Business Jet at the National Business Aircraft Association 18th Annual Convention in Los Angeles.
According to Boeing, the 737E with a 19-seat interior could fly non-stop from New York to Rome in 10 1/2 hrs with the optional 6,420 gal. fuel tank. Once the 737-200 demonstrator was built in March 1968, Boeing made the -200 the new 737 Business Jet model. As it turned, all (3) of the major airline Twin-Jet manufacturers would end up with total Business Jet sales of (7)!! It turned out that the Chief Corporate Pilots, who had sway with the companies decisions on Jet purchases, preferred something more fun to fly and the Grumman Gulfstream II became the hand-down preference!
The -100 would become the variant for the USAF Aeromedical Transport bid. The 737M could carry (82) seated patients or a combination of litters, up to (64). The large door would be 7.2ft wide. The 737M could fly coast-to-coast with (20) litters and (20) ambulatory patients. As it turned out the 737M would lose out to the Douglas DC-9-30 which was originally considered too large in the original USAF proposal!
(Sounds like the Air Force made sure Douglas won?)
_____________________________The Contentious Cargo Door-1965-68___________________________
One of the longest debates between Boeing and potential customers would be the cargo door! Specifically the size of it! The heated discussions were never revealed in the press but in this case, Lufthansa was more along for the ride. Lufthansa's Professor Hoeltje was 'intrigued' when Boeing first announced the 737-100C, according to an October 1965 article. The 707/727 cargo door demand involved of pair of Alaskan pioneers and potential 737C customers. Sigurd Wien (Wien Air Alaska)and Ray Petersen (Northern Consolidated) would form the 1-2 punch that drove Boeing bean counters to drag out a situation until the Fall of 1968! The problem was Boeing had already engineered the 7.2 ft door (114 in.) for the 737M proposal. According to our Technical Advisor, Boeing was hoping for around (200) total orders, which is why so called cheaper 'soft tooling' was initially used and Boeing also went cheap on 737 engineering, especially on aerodynamics testing, which later was brought out in the actual prototype testing.
Boeing 737M's 114in. (7ft 2in) door was engineered and accepted but clearly a 707 size door could not fit on the -100C without a fuselage extension!
Though Lufthansa was interested in the 737-100C/QC, Boeing was not going to spend money to extend the -100 fuselage for 707/727 cargo door. Lufthansa would wait this fight out now that the -100C was showing no interest in the market other than Lufthansa.
A 707/727 cargo door still wouldn't fit even on the larger -200 without engineering a costly new design, as the crown of the 737 would interfere with the top edge of a standard 707/727 door! Boeing was not happy with having to build another 737 cargo door but in the end Mr. Wien and Mr. Petersen prevailed. As soon as the new large -200C was finalized, Lufthansa ordered a pair of 737-130QC's in October 1968. NCA and Wien would merge in 1968 and accept their 737QC's under the new Wien Consolidated name. The -200C/QC was in but another loss for the 737-100....
1966 would begin with the new 'look' for the still un-built 737-100 prototype. The previous illustrations wore a Blue and Red color scheme (the colors worn by the 727C and 707-320C demonstrators). The 737 would get it's own identity with a Cream color and Olive Green combination with Gold edging. Both the 737-100 prototype and the 737-222 demonstrator would be painted exactly the same which would lead to some confusion, especially in a online magazine story which we will correct.
There would be two "Roll-outs" for the -100 prototype! The 1st was was due to the prototype 737 began assembly in the old smaller B-17 building and the 737 had to be taken out to a have the tail attached!
Once the Official April 1967 "Roll-out" had taken place, the pace of flight testing quickly accelerated.
Soon, Lufthansa's #2- #4 marked test 737's joined the flight testing.
After it's April 1967 1st Flight, N73700 would continue it's flight testing work over the next 2-yrs, though by 1969, it was mostly a forgotten workhorse (note the longer engine nacelles and the F-104 front brakes on the lower 1969 photo!)
Without a doubt, this pre-delivery photo of the 5th -130 would turn out to be the most widely distributed photo of a customer 737-100! Of the (3) Lufthansa test -130's, (1) would would have it's tail repainted in the new style at Boeing, while the remaining (2) would have the repaints done in Germany.
March 1968, would see the competition of the first -200 N737Q and finally the first Sales Tour planning could begin.
(May 1968-Private Coll. Photo)
____________________________________1968 Sales Tours_____________________________________
For some reason, close-up photos of the -200 N737Q, during it's trio of 1968 Sales Tours are RARE!
On online magazine recent story falsely stated that N73700 went on several sales tours. N73700 was registered as an Experimental aircraft and never was involved in any sales tours. As a matter of fact, our Technical Advisor did a walk-around of N73700 a few days after it's rollout; "I was dismayed at the poor workmanship of the sheet metal, lots of gaps, steps and mismatches!"
1) June 22-July 3 1968 U.S & Canadian Sales Tour.....
The 737 first sales tour would make (19) visits and in Boeing 737 history is little documented, as it would bring no U.S. sales. The Canadian operators had already ordered a number of 737's. The November Transair Ltd. order might be credited to the tour though? The impact of the lead that the One-Eleven and DC-9 had in the U.S. was on full display. The best information we found was a newspaper account of N737Q's visit to Mohawk Airlines. The 737-222 was configured for 99-passengers in a 4-abreast 1st-class and a 6-abreast Tourist Class. Unlike the -100 prototype N73700, the customer decals on N737Q were smaller and arranged in a more orderly fashion.
2) July 8-July 25 South America/Latin America Tour.....
After returning from the mostly unsuccessful North American Tour, N737Q was refreshed and off to South America. N737Q's customer decals were removed from the nose and re-applied to the lower right side between the door and front wing. This tour was much more successful and well documented. After it's first week since leaving Seattle, N737Q had logged 14,000 miles, 5,000 of which were on (14) local demonstrations with over (500) guest passengers. There were a total of (22) visits and the VASP order for (5) 737's would be the big ceremony during the tour.
3) October 1968 U.S. Business Sales Tour....
This final sales tour would be a coast-to-coast tour and was not well covered. The 14-day tour that began at the NBAA Annual Convention in Houston, did apparently bring a pair of deals, to GATX-Armco-Boothe (leased to LTV Corp.) and to Essex Wire. N737Q was fitted with a Executive interior from Pacific Airmotive. As was mentioned before, the overall Airliner/Business Jet sales were poor for all the manufactures. Probably not worth the money invested.
_________________________________N73700's Final Years.....1968-69_______________________________
(Max Kingsley-Jones Photo)
This May 1969 photo is likely the last photo of N73700 before it was put on blocks ready for it's anticipated destruction. Though now removed from public view, she would be put to a busy test flight schedule as she and the 20,000 737 Program employees worked to create the next model; the Advanced 737.
Just as the first customer -130's were coming off the assembly-line, Boeing announced a 3-Step Product Improvement Program;
1) Development of a high-performance thrust-reverser. (Roher Corporation would win the design that involved 9-other companies and cost Boeing $24 million to develop. (A pre-delivery United -222 would do most of the work)
2) Conducting of an intensive wind-tunnel program. (To save cost, Boeing went cheap on wind-tunnel testing for which the early problems would have been discovered)
3) Study by Boeing engineers of modifications to improve the 737's already excellent short-field capability. (The short-field project would be one of the most interesting and least covered)
The work on the 'short-field' 737 looked like a last chance for the disappointing 737-100. Since the 1950's, the DOD had spent half a million dollar's on STOL technology. With the new Jumbo Jets on the way, there was worry within the industry of airport overcrowding and the CAB got serious with actual aircraft testing. McDonnell-Douglas imported a French design as the MD-188 and this would be the aircraft used by both Eastern and American for the late 1968-early 1969 series of tests.
The idea was to have less busy airports that were close to major airports, handle some of the anticipated
increase and in it's extereme, to create STOLPorts which would be handled by props (w/tilt wings in this case!)
Though not a true STOL, the 737-100SF did impress...
In April-May 1969, Boeing invited (25) airlines to visit and examine the Boeing SF program and Aviation Week & Space Teleology Magazine went along..We have used a dotted line to show the enlarged SF Trailing Edge Flap Extension.
To assist with braking, an disc brake unit from an F-104 USAF Starfighter was tried!
Though the potential airlines were impressed with the -100SF idea and performance, the extra cost of maintaining unique 737SF parts was the main reason the SF never was given the go-ahead as the last hope the the 737-100.
N73700's work was over once the October 1969 737 Advanced was announced as the next Gen 737 for 1971. Only the wider nacelle struts (intended to seal the slat better) and the extended Kreuger flap were to be adopted from the SF work. N73700's work was done and she was soon 'put out to pasture' (actually placed on cement blocks and have her engines removed). Surprisingly, 2-years later, the 737-100 variant got one more chance!
_________________________________Luftwaffe 737-107 (1971-73)______________________________
Lufthansa's Professor Hoeltje may not have been the 'Father of The 737" but he sure was an 'Uncle'!
It would the Professor's comments to the local Seattle Times newspaper, during a visit to Boeing in the Fall of 1971 that would make headlines. The German Air Force was seriously looking at the 737-100 as a complement aircraft to the Luftwaffe's (4) 707-307C's that had been purchased new in 1968 (one of the few new military 707's, as most nations used 'refurbished' airline 707's).
The planned deal involved the now ex-Avianca 'troublesome' 737-159's that Boeing had just taken in as a 'trade-in' with Avianca. The pair were sold to Germany and given new Reg. numbers. The Luftwaffe, Lufthansa and Boeing had the early plans of a 3-way deal. Lufthansa would sell (3) -130's to the Luftwaffe and add-in the (2) -159's and Lufthansa would get (3) to-be -ordered 727-230's and likely Boeing would refurbish the (5) soon-to-be 737-107's!
Unfortunately politics would end the deal in early 1973. The Dutch Government was putting pressure on Germany to buy the VFW-614. When the VFW prototype crashed in February 1972, that seemed to be an opening for the 737-107 plan but with Germany now a full partner in the -614 project, it would look worse if the Luftwaffe 737 project continued. U.S. State Department cables show that the Netherlands President was putting pressure on the German President to end the Luftwaffe 737 and by 1973, the Luftwaffe sold back the ex-Avainca 737-159's, ending the final planned 737-100 variant.........
(Boeing 733 1963)
It's not likely that someone would have predicted in 1964, that the announced SST (shown is the original model 733 proposal which was projected as a 435,000 lb, 165-seat aircraft Mach 2.7 design), would never be built and the then new Boeing 737 proposal (which Boeing had hoped to build 200), would become the largest selling airliner in the world!
With the airline manufacturers having rejected self funding the SST, the government would take on the expensive task. By the time the U.S. Congress refused further SST funding, having spent $980 million by May 1971, the FAA, under the Department Of Transportation, wanted to continue working on cockpit displays and guidence systems for application to current and future subsonic airplanes. Since NASA's overall mission statement included disseminating newly developed technologies as widely as possible, an agreement was struck with the DOT/FAA that NASA would be the lead agency for developing flight-demonstrated cockpit display and guidence technology. This agreement was made in part because NASA's budget was larger than the FAA's.
As we all know, the 737 prototype N73700, was saved from destruction, though it was a pretty sad sight in 1971. The engines had been removed, while she was siting at the end of the ramp at Renton, with cement blocks hanging off the engine pylons to keep the aircraft upright and the interior had been gutted out...
With only 978 flight hours, Boeing was willing to return N73700 to flying status. It would take Boeing 2-yrs get the sale finalized on July 26, 1973. It would take another 10-months to outfit the 737 to NASA specifications and the planned DOT flight teats. On May 17, 1974, the former N73700, arrived at Langley to begin a new life as N515NA.......
______________________________Boeing 737-100's Last Sales Proposal__________________________
By the end of the 1960's, Boeing's decision to have a fully-staffed Sales office in the Middle East had paid dividends. Within the Middle East, Boeing had become the 'Prestige' airliner. The office was responsible for Middle East and North Africa (Israel was under the European Office). At the time Iraq, Syria, Sudan & Cyprus were major targets for Boeing's Middle East office, located in Beirut, Lebanon. A surprise request for a 737 sales proposal would come in the Spring of 1969 from the Trucial States airline, Gulf Aviation Company Ltd.
The Trucial States date back to an 1853 maritime treaty over piracy that was signed with the British, who would provide military protection for the local Shaykhs. In 1931, Oil was discovered and Bahrain, along with Qatar, would join Trucial States.
After World War II, a demobilized ex-RAF pilot who had been stationed in Iraq, named Frederick Bosworth, as with many others, hoped to find a successful post-war career in civil aviation. Bosworth had an idea of flying spare parts to remote locations for the British protected oil rigs but he ended up in Bahrain, when his Auster Autocrat had engine failure and he barely made it to a Bahrain race track!
As fate would have it, Bosworth and the top British Diplomat in Bahrain, Charles Belgrave, who was serving as an adviser to the Amir of Bahrain, struck up a friendship and soon Gulf Aviation was formed in early 1950. By June 1951, Gulf Aviation's fleet was a mixture of mostly unsuitable aircraft.
While conducting an evaluation flight in a newly purchased De Havilland Dove, lost his life when the aircraft crashed. Bosworth's widow would sell the Gulf Aviation assets to now Sir Charles Belgrave and the need to finance a fleet of Doves, would bring in BOAC with a 22% stake in Gulf Aviation Limited.
(1957-Flying with The Gulf Aviation Falcon Facebook)
From 1951-56, (4) of the 11-seat De Havilland Doves would be the main Gulf Aviation Fleet for the only route; Bahrain-Dahran-Doha-Sharjah triangle.
BOAC Associated Companies based in London, would be the major force within Gulf Aviation during the mid-1950's period but a 'hands-on' executive was needed for the day-to-day operations and a unique arrangement would be made with a former RAF Distinguished Flying Cross award winner.
In 1959, Gulf Avation hired an ex-RAF bomber pilot Alan Bodger as a "Managing Pilot" to run Gulf Aviation. Captain Bodger's DFC was awarded in 1944, when his Lancaster bomber was accidentally struck with incendiary bombs by a target marking RAF Mosquito. To extinguish his burning Lancaster, Bodger plunged his bomber into 10,000 ft. dive and successfully saved the aircraft and crew.
When Captain Bodger was hired, it was with an odd stipulation, he would receive no salary unless the airline made a profit! This agreement would turn out to be a 'double-edged' sword. Bodger would get Gulf Aviation out of the red but at a cost of very little fleet modernization.
The first of (5) De Havilland Heron's arrived in 1956 would make up the frontline passenger aircraft.
In 1958, Gulf Aviation began leasing DC-3's for the growing Oil-field work and in late 1960, began purchasing a number of Dakota's. The eventual (5) DC-3's would become the true 'workhorse' of the Gulf Aviation fleet and the aircraft that Gulf's Alan Bodger would be most associated with. The last DC-3 served until 1971.
__________________________________The Trucial States Buy-in________________________________
(Note the flag in the background is for the British Petroleum/ Abu Dhabi Marine Company-one of the many joint ventures that were beginning as more oil deposits were being uncovered)
With the continued increase in foreign oil exploration (in 1964 there was a major discovery in Oman), the Trucial States realized that they needed to become shareholders to have some control over their own Sheikdoms economic development. In the early 1960's, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Qatar become 23 1/2 % shareholders, joining BOAC Associated Companies 25% with the remaining shares held by local private shareholders. Each would get a seat on the Gulf Aviation Board and not soon after the change in power would be made clear to Gulf's GM Alan Bodger.
None of the Gulf A/C had lavatories at the time and when a board member was caught 'short' on a flight between Sharjah and Bahrain, at the next board meeting, Bodger was instructed to install aircraft lavatories which cost Bodger 1/15th of his salary!
In 1966, after a visit by BOAC's chairman Sir Giles Guthrie, BOAC Associated Companies General Manager President John Linstead, made the decision to acquire the first modern aircraft for Gulf Aviation and an Fokker F-27 Combi was ordered.
(Fokker-Jan Homa Folkert Coll.)
The Gulf Aviation F-27 was originally ordered as a MK 400 which had the 5.8ft x 7.6ft cargo door but soon after the order was placed, Fokker announced the MK 600 which would offer a QC interior, similar to Douglas and Boeing. Gulf Aviation chose to upgrade to the 600 but not the QC interior.
(Fokker-Jan Homa Folkert Coll.)
Gulf Aviation would be the 3rd airline to order the MK 600 and the interior was set-up for (40) passengers with the normal area for first 2-rows of seats to be used strictly for up to 5,000lb of cargo.
(Fokker-Jan Homa Folkert Coll.)
The Gulf Aviation F-27 would display a new color scheme, though keeping the BOAC Blue.
(Fokker-Jan Homa Folkert Coll.)
The Gulf Aviation Ltd. tail logo had been used on timetables since the 1950's but not on the A/C themselves.
When G-AVON was delivered in January 1967, it would be put on the 'Triangle' route but before that could happen, Gulf Aviation would have to hire a new Cabin Crew member! Once the F-27 entered service, the Heron's were withdrawn and the DC-3's were reserved for charter work.
CAA rules mandated a Cabin Attendant on the F-27 but to get the new A/C in service as soon as possible, Gulf managers scoured their bases for male employees that could speak both Arabic and English. Those that were found were given a quick 'course' on F-27 evacuation procedures and then found themselves as the first Gulf Aviation CC!
The ASGUL on the tow-motor stood for 'Aviation Services Gulf' which was the ground handling company which was jointly owned by BOAC and Gulf Aviation.
______________________________A New Gulf Aviation Power-Player___________________________
On August 6, 1966, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ousted his Brother to become the new ruler of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the (7) 'Sheikhdom's.
The move would further erode Gulf Aviation's Alan Bodger's power, as far as modernizing the airline.
As it turned out, Sheikh Zayed would become one of the celebrated historic figures in the Arab Gulf. He loved Western automobiles and believed in the values of consultation and consensus. Though the first export of Abu Dhabi crude oil was in 1962, the money had not been reinvested by the now deposed brother. After 1966, Sheikh Zayed began building schools, roads, housing and hospitals. The Trucial States Council began to be re-funded and Sheikh Zayed made sure that Gulf Aviation would continue modernizing it's fleet.
(Aviation Photography Company)
The sole F-27 Combi was soon in-service and was seldom not operated without large cargo, as 25% of Gulf Aviation's revenues were from oil related charters.
_____________________Gulf Aviation Company Ltd. Equipment Expansion 1967-68___________________
(Kuwait Airways provided through service linking the Northern Gulf from 1961-70 on behalf of Gulf Aviation using a Viscount-DC-6B-Trident)
(Aviation Photo Company)
Just after the F-27 Combi was ordered, Gulf Aviation purchased a pair of Beech QueenAir 80's that arrived in March-April 1967. The popular U.S. aircraft design was needed for the expanding oil company charter work. According to a former Gulf Aviation Captain, a typical arrangement was the contract with 'Petroleum
A pair of DC-3 Dakota's and a QueenAir 80 were based at a base camp west of Muscat. The Gulf Aviation pilots were kept busy and stayed at the airline's apartment in Abu Dhabi and were usually on a 5-10 day rotation. Sandstorms and 110+ degree temperatures were the more difficult experiences but the former Gulf Captain recalls them with good memories.
The Gulf Aviation pilots were outfitted by BOAC and wore the classic BOAC double-breasted uniform. Most, if not all, were hired through the BOAC Associated Companies office at London's Heathrow Airport. A new hire began as a Second Officer and then First Officer/Senior First Officer/Pilot-in-Command. Gulf Aviation Company had their own wings and hat badges that were gold embroidered, just as BOAC did. Most of the Gulf Crews were Europeans, as a British Pilots Certificate was required which made it purposely difficult for any Middle East pilots to get hired. It wasn't until the mid-1970's when the renamed 'Gulf Air' began hiring 'local' pilots.
As with the Pilots, the new female Cabin Crews began in 1968 and were all non-Middle Easterners. The new uniform was designed by the wife of Gulf's Senior Captain. Gulf was able to recruit a few bi-lingual women but on the Gulf F-27 flights, recorded dual language messages were played for the passengers.
The new female CC's replaced the male airport workers that were hurriedly used during 1967!
In April 1968, a 2nd F-27 Combi was acquired, this time it was a year-old Fokker from Schreiner Airways.
The newly registered G-AZFU was built just a few assembly-line positions from Gulf's own new F-27.
The 2nd F-27 would unveil the new Gulf Aviation logo, a geometric 'Falcon'.
With the arrival of the 2nd F-27, Gulf Aviation would place an F-27 on-call for any 'Royal Flight' much to the anger of passengers, who would have to switch to an old DC-3! One Gulf Aviation pilot recalls being diverted from a scheduled F-27 flight to transporting a Royal Flight hunting party (complete with Hawks) to Iran. The pilot received a Gold watch as a token of appreciation.
_________________________________Gulf Aviation's Jet 'Search'-1969_____________________________
During 1968, due to political pressuer at home, Britain announced that it would begin the process of withdrawing from it's military obligations in the Trucial States. With this knowledge, Gulf Aviation Company's member States began to take a more important role in shaping the airline's future.
In Gulf Aviation's March 1969 Annual Report, it was announced; "The purchase of a Twin-Jet was under study". Realistically, the decision had likely been made, thanks to an earlier deal with the British Air craft Corporation and BOAC Associated in 1968. Bahamas Airways which was also owned by BOAC Associated, placed an order for a pair of One-Eleven 500's. As part of the deal, (2) new One-Eleven 400's would be leased to Bahamas for a year until the 500's were delivered. The 400's that were returned had not found a permanent home yet.
Abu Dhabi's Shiekh Zayed and Oman's Emir, had other idea's and contacted Boeing's Beirut office for a Gulf Aviation proposal. As was mentioned earlier, Boeing had become the 'prestige' airliner throughout the Middle East. The Boeing sales team would be limited in their options as the planned One-Eleven was to be in a 12-First Class/59-Tourist Class arrangement. The 727-100 and 737-200 were too large, so the only alternative was the 737-100 which hadn't had an order in 2-years!
One drawback would be the -100 was not certified for the new 'Rough-Field' package. With Boeing working on the 737 Advanced and -200 improvements, there wasn't a lot of interest in spending new money on the disappointing 737-100 but the Sales Team did their best. Had the 737-100 been ordered, it would have been the only airline -100 not with the all-Tourist 99-passenger configuration.
Not surprisingly, on July 29, 1969, BOAC Associated announced the deal. Gulf Aviation would purchase a One-Eleven 432 (the former Bahamas Airways lease) and take an option on the 2nd 432. Gulf Aviation General Manager Alan Bodger had little interest in acquiring a Jet. He reportedly once remarked; "[Jet's] are the invention of the devil that lost money"!
(Bernhard Kergal Coll.)
No one knows why the new Gulf Aviation One-Eleven wore a different color scheme than the F-27 and Beech 80? The cheatline has a very similar look to the charter airline Bavaria's One-Elevens. It so happened that around the time BOAC Associated officials were at BAC in Hurn, a Bavaria One-Eleven was coming off-lease from ALA. That's the closest guess we can come up with!
The new One-Eleven began work in January 1970 and was put on a pair of former F-27 routes; Bahrain-Doha (78nm) and Abu Dhabi-Dubai (70nm). By later in 1970, the One-Eleven was working 7-days a week; (6) Services from Bahrain to Doha, (8) to Abu Dhabi, (4) to Kuwait and (2) to Muscat. The Muscat landings at Bait-al-Falaj Airport were an 'alarming' event for new passengers! The approach was made through a large ravine and then a sharp turn to land. Unknown to the passengers, a control tower worker would take a portable radio out to the end of the runway, as the tower radio would 'black-out' during the approach! The F-27's were now utilized on the Bahrain-Dharan (28nm) route, flown (22) times per-week. Passenger boardings were 200,000 during 1969, with a population of just 250,000 within Gulf Aviation's 266 nm network (smaller in size than the entire UK!).
_____________________________Gulf Aviation Goes International-April 1970__________________________
Just 3-months after the new One-Eleven entered service, Gulf Aviation became a VC-10 airline! (sort of....)
On April 1, 1970, the Trucial States would finally have a truly 'International' airline, as Gulf Aviation began flights to London. The day was marked with the member States all releasing postage stamps for the occasion. Though the Gulf Aviation logo was illustrated on the tail, in reality it was the BOAC 'Speedbird' on the tail with 2-styles of Gulf Aviation 'Stickers'.
(Dean Slaybaugh Photo)
The 1st version was a common 'Sticker' type but a later version was done more professionally in Gold foil.
(Gulf Air Crew Facebook)
The VC-10 services were twice-weekly to London; Abu Dhabi/Bahrain-London and Dubai/Doha-London. It's not known how many different VC-10's were used and no Gulf Aviation cabin crews were assigned.
(Gulf Air Crew Facebook)
While the airline continued it's passenger aircraft expansion, the growing oil charter business was not forgotten, as (4) Shorts Skyvans were ordered. The first pair, arriving in September 1970.
One problem that was encountered was the lack of an intercom system. The CAA mandated that passengers had to have a means communication, since there would be no cabin crew attendants on board. One of the Gulf pilots came up with the solution. Recall in years past when storeowners would have a 'grabber' pole to pull items off high shelves? That's essentially what he came up with. The pilot would write out the information for the passengers and would attach the note to the end of the pole and bang on the cockpit door until one of the passengers would open the door and read the note aloud!
With the arrival of the 2nd F-27 Combi, the DC-3 Dakota's days were numbered. In 1970, the final DC-3 charter cargo flights were completed.
(November 1970 Ad)
This magazine ad shows what would become the final Gulf Aviation Route Map, though there would be new aircraft arriving.
January 1971 would see the arrival of the 3rd F-27 Combi.
(Marcel Tschurdin Photo)
The F-27 is shown at Swissiar's base before delivery in January 1971. G-AWFU was originally built in 1967 for Balair. This would complete the Gulf Aviation fleet of (3) F-27's. Though still wearing the 1967 scheme by 1971, the fusealge titles were now in the thinner One-Eleven style-both English and Arabic.
The jet passenger growth was a bit slower, having grown from 200,000 in 1969 to 250,000 in 1971. Finally in November 1971, the 2nd One-Eleven was converted and G-AXMU arrived.
Just a month later, the Trucial States became the United Arab Emerates with Shiekh Zayed as the major power figure. Earlier in the year, Oman joined Gulf Aviation Company as equal partner.
In Janaury 1972, the world's most recognizable person, Muhamed Ali made his pilgrimage to Mecca. During the Hadj period, Gulf Aviation offered (17) round-trip nightinme flghts to Mecca.
Also in 1972, Gulf Aviation Female cabin crews were issued a new uniform and this would be the 2nd and last under the Gulf Aviation Company name. Unlike the earlier 4-color design, this uniform was a single color.
The final new aircraft type would arrive in June 1972 and the pair of Britten-Norman Islanders were only for charter assignments.
In April 1973, Gulf Aviation decided with the coming future expansion and the planned departure of BOAC Associated Companies on April 1, 1974, a new corporate indentity was needed.
Gulf Aviation Company Limited became "Gulf Air" and the airline would immediately order American; the Lockheed Tristar and the Boeing 737Adv (They finally got thier 737!).
Gulf Aviation Company had gone through it's 1st tranformation from a DC-3 to the modern Fokker F-27 airline during the mid-1960's period.
(George Woods Photo-1973)
The early 1970's would see the tranformation to Jets. (for some reason, the 2nd One-Eleven G-AXFU, rarely was captuered on film , so this 1973 photo is a rare sight!)
Though the renamed "Gulf Air" would go on the become a major International airline, it's early years as Gulf Avaition Company Ltd. should always be remembered as a point of pride for the then emerging Trucial States.....
(Planes and Choppers)