[WORLDKINGS] On this day – May 2, 2023 – The 71st anniversary of the first commercial jet entering service (1952)


(Worldkings.org) On May 2, 1952, BOAC was the first airline to put a passenger jet into air service. The A De Havilland Comet made the first jetliner flight with fare-paying passengers, from London to Johannesburg.

The de Havilland DH.106 Comet was the world's first commercial jet airliner. Developed and manufactured by de Havilland in the United Kingdom, the Comet 1 prototype first flew in 1949. It featured an aerodynamically clean design with four de Havilland Ghost turbojet engines buried in the wing roots, a pressurised cabin, and large windows. For the era, it offered a relatively quiet, comfortable passenger cabin and was commercially promising at its debut in 1952.


On 2 May 1952, as part of British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) proof-of-route tests, A De Havilland Comet G-ALYP took off on the world's first jetliner flight with fare-paying passengers and inaugurated scheduled service from London to Johannesburg. The final Comet from BOAC's initial order, registered G-ALYZ, began flying in September 1952 and carried cargo along South American routes while simulating passenger schedules.

In their first year, Comets carried 30,000 passengers. As the aircraft could be profitable with a load factor as low as 43 percent, commercial success was expected. The Ghost engines allowed the Comet to fly above weather that competitors had to fly through. They ran smoothly and were less noisy than piston engines, had low maintenance costs and were fuel-efficient above 30,000 ft (9,100 m). In summer 1953, eight BOAC Comets left London each week: three to Johannesburg, two to Tokyo, two to Singapore and one to Colombo.


In 1953, the Comet appeared to have achieved success for de Havilland. Popular Mechanics wrote that Britain had a lead of three to five years on the rest of the world in jetliners. As well as the sales to BOAC, two French airlines, Union Aéromaritime de Transport and Air France, each acquired three Comet 1As, an upgraded variant with greater fuel capacity, for flights to West Africa and the Middle East. A slightly longer version of the Comet 1 with more powerful engines, the Comet 2, was being developed, and orders were placed by Air India, British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines, Japan Air Lines, Linea Aeropostal Venezolana, and Panair do Brasil. American carriers Capital Airlines, National Airlines, and Pan Am placed orders for the planned Comet 3, an even-larger, longer-range version for transatlantic operations. Qantas was interested in the Comet 1 but concluded that a version with more range and better takeoff performance was needed for the London to Canberra route.


According to Wikipedia

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