In which year did the jet age begin?Back to Forum
A question for those interested in aviation history.
For clarity, I am NOT asking for the year of the first flight of a particular aircraft type e.g. Comet in 1949.
For me, the jet age began when the majority of commercial passenger flights (i.e. >50%) were by jet aircraft but in which year?
I suspect Transatlantic services were the first to enter the jet age but what about European services, Domestic services, etc.
I think it must be sometime in the late 60s given the following aircraft entered commercial passenger service in these years (Soviet aircraft ignored).
1952 – Comet
1958 – B707
1959 – DC8, Caravelle
1960 – Convair 880
1964 – B727, Trident, VC10
1965 – DC9
1968 – B737
1969 – F28
1970 – B747
1971 – DC10, Mercure
1972 – Tristar
1974 – A300
1975 – VFW 614
1976 – Concorde
All years from Wikipedia which lists all aircraft year of 1st flight (note not 1st commercial flight) here
A bonus question for you to work out yourself. In which year did the next (western) commercial passenger jet enter commercial service and what was it?
1 user thanked author for this post.20 Jan 2023
Really interesting thread Bath-VIP.
One aircraft you have forgotten is the BAC 1-11.
Where cities have more than one airport that will have a determining factor.
For example, in January 1966 BUA became the first scheduled all-jet operation on UK domestic routes.
At that time BEA was using prop Vanguard aircraft from Heathrow on main domestic trunk routes and this continued for another couple of years so giving BUA a lead.20 Jan 2023
Alex thanks for pointing out the omission of the BAC111 so I will amend. I had the data but forgot to put it in.
The Vanguard was one of the airliners that prompted this thread. My father used to take them when travelling between Edinburgh & London back in the 60s and remembering that made me wonder when the crossover point was.20 Jan 2023
Great thread! Thanks. I’m no expert but would put the date at about 1970-72, when flying became cheaper and far more common.
I thought I knew something about flying and jets, but I had never even heard of the VFW 614.20 Jan 2023
I think there were only about 20 VFW614s made and I got to see one owned by Cimber Air at Newcastle airport in the late 1970s. Weird looking thing!
You’re very lucky to have seen a VFW 614 in that case!
I checked the VFW 614 Wikipedia page before my last post, it has some quite good photos as I’m sure you know. The engine mount looks unusual.20 Jan 2023
Talking of rarities, I never went on a VFW614, but did take a number of Mercure flights – just wondering how many others experienced the French 737 on steroids? (with a hint of A300 at the front).21 Jan 2023
I’m no expert but would put the date at about 1970-72, when flying became cheaper and far more common.
You must be referring to when the B747 was launched in January 1970 by PanAm. Its first route was JFK-LHR.
It took several more years before traffic picked up and then in the latter 1970s the airlines started to capitalise on demand by squeezing in more Y seats.
So Y class, which originally was 9-across, because 10-across.
1 user thanked author for this post.21 Jan 2023
Forgive me for doing down on you youngsters – but for me the “Jet Age” started when the USA and UK governments relaxed the rules and permitted Transatlantic charter flights in 1963, thereby severely undercutting the scheduled flight monopoly by the big airlines before then. Transatlantic flights were prohibitevly expensive for “ordinary” people until then.
I flew to NYC on an Aer Lingus charter flight in a Boeing 707 in July 1963, chartered by the National Union of Students. My ticket for £60* was sold to me in my university students’ union by Anna Ford, later to become a major TV newsreader.
* about £1,200 in today’s money21 Jan 2023
Just seen this tweet by @Gate7tweet [FR]
In a posting above I referred to the B747 and its first commercial flight.
The flight in question with JFK-LHR with Pan Am on January 22, 1970
Here’s a photo of the event.
Le 22 janvier 1970 le Boeing 747 effectuait son 1er vol commercial entre New-York et Londres sous les couleurs de Pan American faisant entrer l'aviation dans l'ère des gros porteurs. #PanAm #Boeing747 #QueenOfTheSkies skies pic.twitter.com/qwBSu1xJnk
— Gate 7 (@Gate7tweet) January 22, 202322 Jan 2023
Talking of rarities, I never went on a VFW614, but did take a number of Mercure flights – just wondering how many others experienced the French 737 on steroids? (with a hint of A300 at the front).
Don’t know about A300. My first thought was the nose looks like an IL-86
Must be a very rare picture of the Mercure if taken at Gatwick (I presume given Monarch 111 & Dan Air 707 in background?).22 Jan 2023