Monday, February 18, 2008

The Bristol "Brabazon"

The Brabazon was another one of those impressive but unsuccessful British airliner designs.

After WWII, it was clear to nearly everyone that the future was land planes, not flying boats (despite the recent introduction of the Saunders-Roe "Princess"). The Bristol Brabazon was the British airliner industry's best guess at what a new, long-range luxury airliner should look like.

It was innovative and ground-breaking in many ways, but ultimately it failed to anticipate the requirements of the postwar airline industry. Specifically, it was WAY too luxurious.

The aircraft was the size of a 747, but carried only 100 passengers, each in spaces about the size of small ocean liner cabins, plus a galley, salon, and theater.
Only one prototype was built, and the British airlines, primarily BOAC (British Overseas Airline Company) and BEA (British European Airways) were already looking for smaller aircraft with lots more seats - the incipient trend towards adoption of "tourist class"... another Pan Am innovation.

So only one Brabazon was built, but it paved the way for many very successful subsequent designs, including the Bristol Brittania turboprop - considered by many to be the best turboprop civil airliner of all time, and the deHavilland Comet, the world's first operational jet airliner.


John the Scientist said...

"galley, salon, and theater."

How long could the damn thing stay aloft?

Sounds like a case of corporate officers and marketers being stuck in an older, inappropriate paradigm.

Not that I've ever seen any examples of that in this century. ;-)

Nathan said...

In the early 90's MGM Grand Air flew a very small fleet of DC-8's and 757's. When you boarded from the front, first you walked through a section that was laid out like booths in a diner with plush chairs facing each other over a table that could be stowed.

The middle of the plane had 6 cabins, 4 laid out like railroad cabins, 1 a room for in-flight massages and I forget what the 6th was for.
In the rear of the plane were about 30 seats laid out like what you'd expect first class to look like on any other airline.

They only flew L.A. to NY and I think they added Las Vegas before they went bankrupt.

I flew on it once because even though I had to pay for the flight, I was booking it through one of the studios' travel departments. It turned out I could pay full fare on one of the "normal" airlines or pay $12 more for MGM Grand.

It was a nice way to travel.

CW said...

Yup there was more than one "Premium Business" airline in the 1990s, when the airline business was booming. I remember MGM Grand Air because they had physical standards for flight attendants.

CW said...

John you are absolutely correct about the corporate officers being stuck in the earlier era - that was the precise problem. Of course if everyone would get stuck in the earlier era we could still be flying Pan Am flying boats!

John the Scientist said...

I think Singapore Air and JAL / ANA have physical standards. Code shares between ANA and United show a huge weight and age disparity.

Not that I think you should have to be a model to be an attendant, but your hips should not brush both aisle seats as you walk down the aircraft, adn you should be able to physically assist passengers with their overhead bags, not ask a nother passenger to lend a hand.

But the attitude difference is also astonishing. Japanese customer service at work, again.