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Old 18th Feb 2016, 15:04
  #3355 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Marlow (mostly)
Posts: 237
ExSImGuy history error

With all due respect, ExSimGuy, a lot of the history in your first few paragraphs is completely adrift.

The Trident was already in service when the 737 was first envisioned in 1964. It always had a Flight Engineer station, in the same location as all other 3 crew aircraft. It was never designed as a 2 crew aircraft and the idea that it was "redesigned" following pressure from BALPA is absurd. (It was originally designed to be a significantly bigger aircraft and was redesigned in 1958 to be smaller following pressure from BEA for commercial reasons, which proved to be spectacularly ill-advised, but that's another story.)

As BEA did not have any Flight Engineers on its payroll and didn't plan to get any, the then Air Registration Board allowed them to re-designate the 3rd crew member position to be a Systems Panel Operator (SPO) who carried out Flight Engineer functions in flight, but was not permitted to exercise any other privileges of a Flight Engineers' Licence. All Trident F/Os were licensed as both pilot and SPO and generally flew alternate legs in each seat. I joined BEA on this basis in 1965, and as far as I'm aware there was never any discussion of 3 crew versus 2.

The minimum crew controversy arose much later, in 1977-78, in particular with the DC9, B757/767 and A310, resulting in the 1981 report of The President's Task Force on Aircraft Crew Complement. This (1) reviewed the August 1980 decision by the Federal Aviation Administration to certify the McDonnell Douglas DC-9-80 aircraft for operation by a minimum of two persons; and (2) made recommendations concerning the use of two-member crews in the proposed Boeing 757 and 767 and other 'new generation' commercial jet aircraft. I was involved in giving evidence to that Task Force.

The only point at which I am aware of any movement of components in the way you suggest emerged at a discussion in Seattle between Boeing and the BA/BALPA joint flight ops project team for the B757, for which BA was launch customer along with Eastern. Boeing's statement that they had never at any time contemplated having a 3rd crew member in the 757 was undermined by our finding on a table in the D-cab briefing room a set of drawings of just such an arrangement where a number of overhead panels were relocated to a side panel.
Apologies for thread drift.
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