Even though the golden era of aviation has come and gone, commercial flying has only been on the rise. Despite the numerous aircraft models that have been designed over the years, there are some that are taking less to the skies. This is especially true after the turn of the century. While many manufacturers have created new and improved models, there are some notable ones, that have been with us for decades. They are now slowly fading away and disappearing from circulation.
The Airbus A300 was the first twin-engine wide body airliner. It is a solid aircraft and a pioneer, ahead of its time. Even though this plane is still in service with cargo and even some commercial operations around the globe, it is flying less and less. Because of its popularity with cargo transport companies, the primary operators that handle this aircraft are FedEx Express and UPS Airlines.
The Boeing 727 was the solution for shorter routes and smaller airports as it took to the skies in the early 1960’s. The narrow body airliner was the only trijet that Boeing has ever produced. With some freighter operations still conducted, this was one of the loudest commercial planes ever produced. As its production ceased in 1984, it is a rare sight at most airports today.
The Tu-154 was a workhorse and another trijet that was developed by the Russian manufacturer Tupolev. As the backbone of Aeroflot for some time, the 154 shared similar characteristics with the Boeing 727. Many variants were developed from this specific Tupolev platform. Today, most operations are non-commercial and limited in services.
Known as Russia’s first wide-body airliner, the IL-86 was developed by Ilyushin. The aircraft itself had an elegant and streamlined design, 4 underwing mounted engines, along with heavy duty landing gear. It saw limited success and had a few proposed but undeveloped variants. Only around 100 were ever produced, and almost none of them can be found in the skies today.
The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 was a trijet from the 1970’s. It was unique, as two of the three turbofans were mounted under the wings, and a third at the base of the vertical stabilizer. It was the answer for long range flights during the late 1960’s. After numerous upgrades, and a new version called the MD-11, the plane remains operable for some cargo transport companies. The airliner flew less and less until it ceased commercial operations in 2014.
The DC-9 was a small, single aisle airliner that was designed for shorter routes. It worked well in smaller airports and was utilized by a few large carriers such as Delta Air Lines and Northwest. With a few design variants stemming from it, the DC-9 served as the foundation for the widely used MD-80 program. Today, only a handful DC-9 are still around.
Now, these great airliners give way to new materials, designs, and electronics. What we have today is because of what we had then. These airliners pass the torch to the new variants and models. Even though we might not see them at airports or in the clouds anymore, they will never be forgotten.