View Full Version : 707 vs. DC-8

28th Aug 2002, 13:01
Just interested in the subject of Boeing vs. Douglas and how the 707 gained the advantage over the dc-8. I know Pan Am bought initial equal batches, and the DC-8 was a great aircraft which was able to be stretched considerably over the years. Pan Am's traditional ties had been to Douglas, and their performance was fairly similar, although the DC-8's capacity was lower. They even went as far as cancelling six of their initial order with Douglas they were so enraptured with Boeing.

What factors were behind this decision, and has any 'behind the scenes' information come out? Although Pan Am was obviously a market leader in terms of aircraft decisions I'm sure other airlines were making important fleet decisions at the same time. I'd be interested in any insights into other Boeing vs. Douglas decisions at the same time and the reasons behind them.

From Pan Am: An Airline & Its Aircraft by R.E.G. Davies

"Often forgotten is that the order was for 25 Douglas DC-8s and 20 Boeing 707s. This suggested that Pan American was prepared to support the company which had supplied it with so many reliable aircraft during the postwar years, but was also warning it that its product had to be good and that tradition and sentiment would not guarantee a continued market. In the event, Boeing proved that its determination not to let this chance slip was matched by its actions. It assembled a production and marketing team that out-produced and out-sold the experienced Douglas. More important, Pan American switched to Boeing as its main supplier. And at this time, when Pan American sneezed, the rest of the aviation world felt a severe draught and most of it caught cold or worse." page 66

28th Aug 2002, 17:27
Not sure I understand the question. Better investment for who ?
The airlines, the manufacturers, the stockholders, what ?

AIUI Boeing originally intended to build the 707 with a 5-abreast cabin (same dimensions as the C-135). Douglas went 6-abreast from the start which attracted the PAA order. Of course Boeing saw the light, widened the 707 and the rest as they say, is history.

28th Aug 2002, 23:07
Best investment for the airlines. I know the main factors behind Boeings success was that the 707 came out a year earlier and that it had a wider range of varients, however I'm interested to know how much marketing and industry contacts may have played a role as well. Any other factors would be interesting too.


1st Sep 2002, 16:02
Boeing were first with the narrow fuselage dash 80. They put $16 million into R & D. Douglas then brought out the wider bodied DC-8. Boeing had to redesign the production model with a new wider fuselage - the 707-120.

The DC-8 was still winning the orders, so Boeing had to design a new bigger wing, stretch the fuselage, add fuel and put new engines on it (the JT-4A and RR Conways) for another new model - the 707-320 Intercontinental.

So by the time they finished they'd had to design and pay for 2 fuselage, 2 wings and integrate 3 engine types. The accountants hated them. The 707 only started to return a profit after several hundred had been delivered. The main financial success being the nearly 750 C/KC-135 bought by the USAF.

So a victory for the airlines and the customers. Definitely not the shareholders.

6th Sep 2002, 22:25
But the DC-8 is a stronger airplane, built like a brick sh!thouse, that's why today on cargo ramps you see more "Diesel Eights" than 707s. UPS still is the largest DC-8 operator.

Ball Bay
8th Sep 2002, 02:24
The biggest mistake was Douglas scrapping the line (paid by the US Government).
Until the 747, the -63 with about 240 seats, out-lifted the 707-320 (184).
The DC8 could carry more, go further, and had a ACN of only 23 to 25 (lower than the 737-200 with low pressure tyres or a 757).
Thus the probems with Newark (and others) in it's later life with increased PCN requirements.
The "8" was a really great aircraft.

8th Sep 2002, 04:41
Close, but no cigar.

One model of the 707-320 had a max seating capacity of 215, believe it or not.

Gave a new meaning to sardines in the tin....:rolleyes: