Welcome to GlobalAir.com | 888-236-4309    Please Register or Login
Aviation Articles
Home Aircraft For Sale  | Aviation Directory  |  Airport Resource  |   Blog  | My Flight Department
Aviation Articles

Business Aviation Industry Focus: Lockheed JetStar

by GlobalAir.com 1. June 2008 00:00
Share on Facebook

Yet again I am very pleased to be able to welcome you back to this developing historical narrative of the Business Aviation Industry. This month's business aviation focus is centred on the world's first Business Jet, the JetStar produced by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, now Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMC) at the Burbank International Airport in Burbank, California.

The Type Certificate for the JetStar 'Dash-6' was issued on August 28th, 1961 after production had been moved to Marietta in Georgia. The famed (some of the people that knew him would say the 'infamous') Kelly Johnson, who was the head of the Lockheed 'Skunk-works' in California was the main driving force behind the design and building of the JetStar. Kelly's team would later go on to create the Lockheed SR-71 which is one of the most materially and aerodynamically advanced aircraft produced last century; and later still, the F-117 Stealth Fighter/Bomber.

Kelly and his team came up with the initial design concept and subsequently built two prototype models in response to the UTX program that had been put out to public bid, from the US Government. The UTX program or Utility Transportation Experimental was a public solicitation launched by the US Air Force in 1956. The purpose was to find a manufacturer that could design and build a small transport jet aircraft specifically to transport executive members of the Airforce rapidly and efficiently to various military sites around the world. McDonnell Douglas, North American Rockwell, Lockheed and others, all submitted prototype designs and bids in the hopes of winning this contract. Lockheed eventually won the contract after much discussion and evaluation by the Air Force. Lockheed's initial design was designated the Model 329, which later became the JetStar.

The first UTX prototype had two 4,850 lb static thrust Bristol Siddeley Orpheus turbojets installed on separate pylons, on each wing. This configuration proved problematic for Lockheed, along with the government's desire to have the successful winning design to be 'all-American' and not be powered by a foreign manufacturer's engines. Lockheed revamped the prototype design by relocating the engines to the aft fuselage and installing four-3,000 lb static thrust, Pratt & Whitney JT12A-6 engines in place of the Bristol Siddeley's mounted in pairs on pylons at the rear of the fuselage.

The prototype design's engine pylon mountings on each wing were then further changed and a 'sponson' external fuel tank was added in place of each engine, which boosted the integral 'wet-wing' fuel tanks by an additional 565 USG each side, thus bringing the total fuel capacity to 2,654 USG (2,580 USG useable.) This fuel-bowser-like fuel capacity enabled the later 'Dash 8' JetStar (Fitted with up-rated JT12A-8 engines. The 'Dash 6' had a 3,000 lb T/O Thrust, which could go up-to 3,300 lbs for 5 minutes with dash 8's installed) to gobble its way to a 1,562 NM range. 'Gobble' being the most accurate term when, depending on the throttle setting and altitude, the four Pratt and Whitney's could collectively gulp down anywhere between 700 to 1,000 USG every hour.

Later models and modified versions of the earlier models that complied with Lockheed Service Bulletin 329-70 recovered most of the unusable fuel and added more, thus boosting the amount of useable fuel to 2,660 USG.

Unfortunately the success of the JetStar waned in the early 1970's after the first major 'fuel-crunch' hit the world, and smaller, more efficient aircraft had also been unleashed onto the market and started to outsell the JetStar because of their lower operating costs. Subsequently Lockheed suspended production of the JetStar 'Dash-8' in 1973 after sales dried up completely.

Desperate to combat the fuel consumption issue, Lockheed gave their JetStar program a major boost by the retrofitting of the original 'Dash-8' with four TFE731-3-1F engines. This radical Type Design change yielded a more than 200 USG per hour fuel-burn reduction along with a massive increase in range of almost 50% to a tad less than 2,700 NM. The JetStar production line cranked back up in 1976 with the 'JetStar II' and immediately upon its release, sales returned to their original brisk levels.

Additionally this factory embodied modification delivered a 700 lb more engine thrust which in turn allowed an increase of 2,500 lbs to the original MGTOW of 42,000 lbs, bringing it to an MGTOW of 44,500 lbs. Take-off performance saw a slight reduction due to the loss of the 'pure-jet-crackle' that the Pratt's always gave, regardless of the ground-level temperature or altitude.

Initially competing against the G1159 'Gee-1', the JetStar was marketed by Lockheed in 1962 as the "World's fastest corporate plane." They also expanded on your claims by stating that it was "…Safer, quieter: The engines are behind you." No doubt, Lockheed was the thorn in Gulfstreams side during the early 1960's.

This 2 man crew, plus 10 passengers, JetStar business jet has made history several times, over the last 50 years. Most notably, in my opinion, after it had earned the distinction of being the 'World's First Business Jet', Ms. Jacqueline Cochran, a competitive aviatrix set 69 separate Women's World Records for speed and distance in 1962 in the JetStar, including the distinction of being the first woman to fly a jet aircraft across the Atlantic. This achievement by Ms. Cochran, again in my opinion, probably brought the JetStar to prominence in the mind of Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli, the American film producer of the English author Ian Fleming's series of 12 books: James Bond that Broccoli made into theatrical productions. He (Cubby) chose the JetStar as the cinematic ride of Pussy Galore, who was played by Honor Blackman in his 1964 film: Goldfinger.

NASA from the mid 1960's to the late 1980's used a JetStar at Dryden Lake / Edwards Air Force Base in California to study wing laminar flow in an effort to design more efficient wing structures. During that same period, specifically in 1976, NASA also utilized a JetStar to conduct their initial Space Shuttle approach and landing tests, in preparation for the first Shuttle launch.

In 1984 an Oklahoman company, American Aviation Industries attempted a new engine retrofit program designed for the JetStar. The premise of this program was the elimination of the 4 factory installed TFE731 engines, replacing them with 2 General Electric CF34 engines. This conversion provided yet another decrease in fuel consumption, while a subsequent increase in effective range was the secondary benefit. Only one prototype was built, while another, standard JetStar was mocked-up as the demonstrator that featured the custom interior that the design proposed. This program was named the 'FanStar Conversion' and it also included the upgrade of the analog-'steam-gauge' cockpit to an all EFIS system. The flying mock-up was first exhibited at the 1985 NBAA show. Unfortunately this project sank after the company failed to sell enough order positions to make it viable.

The 18 year production run of the JetStar series saw a total of 233 aircraft produced. There are about a quarter of them still actively operating in various countries around the world, as the average total-time of the fleet is about 10,000 hours. Unfortunately the majority of the original fleet has mostly been culled because of the high cost to feed 4 engines, and also corrosion issues within the wing tanks, and the wing planks. Out of the 233 total aircraft that were produced, the models by numbers, are broken down as follows: 80 JetStar 'dash 6' (0 active); 51 JetStar 'dash 8' (7 are still active); 62 JetStar 731's (20 still active); and 40 JetStar II's (30 still active.)

Okay, I will see you next month as we further continue this look-back at the history of the various aircraft that have become synonymous with business aviation. Next month we shall focus on the North American Rockwell Sabreliner. If you have a suggestion for me as to a specific business aircraft that one of these future Business Aviation focus articles should be dedicated to, please let me know your thoughts. Also remember that any input that you care to make will be of great interest to all of the readers here at Globalair.com. So don't be bashful. Go ahead and write your comments and suggestions here. Please don't forget that whatever you write here, can be seen publicly by everyone that visits this page, so please be funny, be inspired, but most importantly of all, please be nice.

Tags: , , , ,

Jeremy Cox


GlobalAir.com on Twitter