The crazy story of the DH 106 Comet, the first jet airliner

Have you ever heard of the DH6 Comet? Also known as " de Havilland DH 106 Comet "? No ? Well, this is the first jet airliner in the history of civil aviation. For information, an airliner is an airplane that is used to transport passengers for commercial flights and an airplane is said to be a jet when it is propelled by a jet engine.

Our story begins on March 11, 1943, when the UK Cabinet formed the Brabazon Committee, a committee set up by the British government in 1942 to investigate the future needs of the civilian aircraft market after World War II. One of the ideas evoked was then to design a pressurized transatlantic postal plane capable of carrying a ton of payload at a cruising speed of 640 km / h.

The crazy story of the DH 106 Comet, the first jet airliner
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The project arouses the skepticism of the members of the committee but only one of them will challenge itself to realize. This is Sir Geoffrey de Havilland.

The DH 106 was a resounding success as soon as it was put into service

Sir Geoffrey de Havilland was the head of a company called " de Havilland Aircraft Company " which is among the British aircraft manufacturers. The man praised his company's expertise with jet planes and proposed a turbojet model, a proposal that the committee accepted. In February 1945, the committee awarded a production contract to de Havilland entitled " Type 106 ".

The DH 106 Comet is thus the work of this company, which it built at its headquarters in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK. The first prototype, Comet 1, made its first flight on July 27, 1949. At the time, externally, it had a clean aerodynamic style and was equipped with four turbojets in the wings, with a pressurized fuselage and large square windows.

Internally, its cabin is relatively quiet and comfortable and from its entry into service in 1952, the aircraft enjoyed dazzling commercial success. Its cruising speed is 772 km / h, with a maximum of 805 km / h and, over the evolution of the prototypes, the Comet 1 has been able to extend its capacity from 36 to 44 passengers.

Many manufacturers were inspired by the DH 106 to develop their planes

Unfortunately, in 1953, after a year of service, three aircraft were destroyed in mid-flight. They are taken out of service and subjected to intensive examinations. The researchers find that the accidents are due to the fact that the metal on the cells did not withstand external pressure and that there were design flaws and dangerous stresses at the corners of the square windows.

Once this was done, the engineers decided to completely redesign the aircraft, this time with oval windows, a reinforced structure and other changes. The aircraft manufacturer improved its planes and designed the Comet 2, then the Comet 3 and finally the Comet 4 which debuted in 1958. The aircraft is also used in the military field to transport personalities, drugs, passengers or perform surveillance missions. The most improved version is the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod, a maritime patrol aircraft that the Royal Air Force used until June 2011.

In addition, the other aircraft manufacturers are not standing still and decide to take advantage of the lessons learned from Comet aircraft accidents to develop their own planes. The Boeing 707 would also be part of it.