The first fare paying passenger flight, a turbine first, took place on 29th July 1950. The fiftieth aniversary did not attract the same publicity as the Comet but then the Viscount went on to be a commercial success.
I was wondering if there are any plans to celebrate the fiftieth aniversary of the first production version, the 701, the first fleet operation as oposed to the prototype carrying passengers prior to being returned to Vickers?
The first production aircraft flight was by BEA, London to Cyprus with stops in Rome and Athens on April 18th 1953.
A lovely aircraft to fly and I especially liked the "soft" undercarriage. A heavy landing was hardly felt and normal landings made one feel like an ace.
I recall, however, that a survey carried out among Viscount crews many years ago showed that due to the extremely untidy cockpit layout, there were more mistakes made in switch selection than on any other contemporary type.
The Toronto School Board ran a night school class on a Viscount simulator donated by Air Canada.
It's been several years since I "flew" in it and I don't know if it's still active as the simulator had several problems and no budget to fix defects.
It couldn't be trimmed unless you shut down an engine and seemed to fly better on three than four (more later).
The nosewheel steering was gone (too much crosswind was dialled in one evening); so, you had to either accept a substantial heading change on the initial takeoff run or throttle back four (or was it one) and bring it back up at about 50 kt.
NDP approaches called for a 45 degree heading change for about 30 seconds when crossing the beacon.
When the localiser was working, the glideslope was stuck on a 0 degree slope.
Once you had it in the air, the instructor had a habit of failing one item after another until you crashed. I managed to survive all the assassination attempts until he failed my airspeed on landing (never managed to get the co-pilot's ASI in my scan )
One night we were flying about and noticed that several tanks were close to empty; so, we put everything on crossfeed. Our classmates then became impatient after we contined to fly for several minutes without any flameouts and sent somebody into the cockpit to accuse us of using the autopilot and switch off the crossfeeds at the back of the pedestal by the autopilot switch. I put the crossfeeds back on, switched off the LP cock for three and retrimmed. The next crew flew about for several minutes and did not discover three was gone until they were instructed to climb and three went into autofeather --that lamp does get your attention
I don't recall the landings so much - so perhaps they WERE good! - but the takeoffs were always smooth.
I travelled on a couple of Air Rhodesia (as it then was) in 1970. Then not again until about 1980 when my mother moved to the Isle of Man. This was before the RJ was devised and the Viscount was the only thing suitable for seat quantity and the Ronaldsway strip (IOM).
As a pax more used to jets, I found the departure from LHR very smooth. It was such a gentle rotation that it was hardly noticeable. Rather missed them when Manx went over the 146 in (about) 1988. On the other hand, I shall never forget going from Salisbury (as was) to Joburg in 1970 and being unable to escape the thunderstorm and having to bash straight through at FL160.
I flew both types & as Centaurus said the 700 series cockpit layout left a lot to be desired, in fact it was bloody awful to the point of being hazardous. It seems there was no pilot input sought & engineers put instruments & switches where they found space. The 800 series was a different aircraft altogether - the first 800 Series acft were purchased by Capitol Airlines in the USA & the story is that the Chief pilot of Capitol told Vickers how he wanted the cockpit laid out . The result was a very pleasant acft to operate. I didn't much favour everything ( gear & flaps ) hanging on the one mainspar though. Nevertheless a delight to fly.
Ahh yes..the Viscount...I remember March3rd 1967,it was my last flight in one. Had spent 3 plus years in the RHS and had reached the point where I considered a transfer back to the DC3 would be ok. By any measure it was an ergonomic disaster.Every model had a different cockpit layout and our Company finally managed to settle on three layouts...V720c/V747/V832...One of the 700's had switches with UP for ON while the other the switches were DN for ON!,and it was not uncommon to fly all 3 types in one tour of duty...The airconditioning system might have worked ok in Nothern Europe but was inadequate in tropical areas..would sometimes take an hour or more before the Duct Pressure Switch would let you get the Temp Controller into the Refridge Range. I got plenty of practice at manual control of the pressurisation system thanks to poor door seals and an outflow valve that did not like all the nicotine from the SLF. I always maintained that a cockpit should have been preserved for students of ergonomics as an example of what not to do!. Yes, it was a commercial success and yes, the 700 series was nice to handle and easy to land but from where I sat it was a heap of c**p to work in.
Thanks for the correction Paper Tiger. The version I gave was told to me by the check captain checking me out on the V832 . It was a vast improvement on the V700 in all respects & was only improved at the insistence of the U.S. airline company, as you say Continental. For example the instrument lighting on the 800 series was integral & adjustable over a good range with a rheostat placed where you could reach it & you could actually read the instruments at night! The 700 lighting was post lighting & if you adjusted it for one part of the panel another part was not illuminated properly. No matter what you did the most conspicuous thing on the ASI was the filament of the lamp reflecting off the instrument glass. Adjust it to correct this & you could hardly read the ASI. All this due to Vickers neglecting to get any input from pilots in the design stage of cockpit layout. What Emeritus says re flying three completely different types in one day may sound incredible but it is true. Was it dangerous & lead to incidents ? Yes . Did it cause the Company any concern ? No.
Last edited by Capt. Crosswind; 18th Jun 2002 at 08:48.
Someone DID preserve a Viscount 700 cockpit, albeit not for the reason you suggested. Take a drive north to Caloundra where the Queensland Air Museum have the nose section of VH-TVJ. However, I can't vouch for the state of preservation of the ergonomic cockpit layout as it passed through several owners before QAM got it in 1993. Currently it's a long way down a very long list of things to do.
There were 3 basic types of Vicount and 2 basic flightdecks.
The ergonomically better 'American' flightdeck was easily distinguishable by the Fire Panels arranged along the top of the coaming panel, the two left side engine panels being separated from the right side ones by a small panel which contained minor controls and varied by type. The fire panels were perspex flaps , which lifted to expose the feathering button, fire ext. switch and LP fuel valve control.
This meant that these controls had thus been moved from the much cleaner central pedastal, where, on the original desighn(?), there was a good chance, in an emergency, that one could follow the emerg. controls back in a line from the particular HP cock and easily stop 2 engines on one side as the LP cock was not in line. Potentially quite a nuisance and, I believe, it DID happen! The older flightdeck was certainly used in some variants up to the 833!
The improved Flightdeck was fitted to SOME variants of 700 but not the 800s.
The 800 series was something of a bastard design in that it was a mix of the 700 wing structure and engines and the larger capacity fuselage of the 810. Pilots will remember the variable Vno of the 700s and 800s which was affected by weight, fuel load and fuel loading. It was basically a short haul design, optimised by BEA for their short haul routes and subsequently taken up by KLM and Aer Lingus.
The 810 series i.e. all variants with a type number of 810 and above, had strengthened mainspars and tailplanes, along with 3-turbine engines as opposed to 2 and were one of that happy breed of aircraft where one could carry max pax and full fuel with a practical limitation of MLW only for flight planning purposes. With the more powerful engines, one could practcally do MAN-AGP although it did take time, particularly climbing on the return leg. A good physically clean VC8 would climb to, typically FL180 and, when heavy, would cruise at around 270 KTAS initially, which would increase to around 290 KTAS towards the end of the flight.
ive only flown in the viscount as a passenger, but what fantastic windows. are they the largest? on the subject of the cockpit layout, as its an early post war four engined aircraft was it planned to have a flight engineer? not many people know that the v bombers were originally going to have just one pilot and a flight engineer as the sharp end crew.