World’s dud airliners: a poll of your choices

Dec. 29, 2014: Now’s your chance to vote on what you think are the world’s dud airliners. Here are the parameters:

  1. Post World War II.
  2. A commercial airliner that entered service–not a prototype or a concept or a mock-up.
  3. “Dud” is defined as poor sales (typically fewer than 100, but it could be more) or something with a technological fault, or both.
  4. The final lists below are gleaned from our original post and choices, and some of the suggestions by readers. Not all suggestions have been incorporated and we’ve added a couple more.
  5. In our Honorable Mentions, we’ve included derivatives of successful airplanes that turned out to be sales duds.

You may vote for more than one airplane.

Poll # 1:

Poll #2:

Poll # 3:

13 Comments on “World’s dud airliners: a poll of your choices

    • Both have sold hundreds of airframes, with over 1000 orders for the 787 and 300 orders for the a380. Neither are anything like the aircraft being talked about.

    • Check your facts, the 787 Program is already turning a profit and is going to be a companion (higher dollar per unit)cash-cow to the 777 Program, much like the 757 program was for all those years………something the A380 never will…as its end is very near.

      Maybe if the Europeans (EADS/Airbus) were not so [edited] and instead chose to farm-out major work to the Japanese,Australians,etc….like Boeing does………shared-cost and upfront vertical-manufacturing $ would be less.

      The added benefit of outsourcing? (horizontal-production).Countries participating in the process of what you are making are more inclined to buy the product.

      But Hey, the Airbus/EADS folks will dupe the EU taxpayers into another (A380/A340-like)money losing foray that most of the world’s private Carriers don’t want to operate or purchase.

      • Oh dear. Another thread of tiresome a380/787/Airbus/Boeing bashing.


      • Are you mad?bits of Airbus made all over the world. Depending on engines selection up to half made in USA.this is even before the new assembly plant in mobile gets going!

      • ..” Check your facts, the 787 Program is already turning a profit and is going to be a companion (higher dollar per unit)cash-cow to the 777 Program, ”

        Wooooohhaaa- even BA admits it will take about 1000 planes before any profit- its called program accounting. Thats at least 5 to 10 years out.

  1. In point of fact, the 787 isn’t yet making a profit–this is projected in 2015 and only because of the use of program accounting. But this is beside the point. Knock off this line of commenting. This post is meant to have some lighthearted fun at the end of the year, not become engaged in international jingoism, which is a violation of our Reader Comment rules.


    • Okay, I’ve calmed down now. Still with my paranoid hat on, I can’t help but think you are picking on us poor did we manage to make such a mess of things?some quite nice looking aircraft too. Does the Conestoga really qualify as it was designed as a military cargo plane.quite good fun looking up all the obscure suggestions over Christmas.

  2. It’s a pity you did not include some old 40’s and 50’s piston aicraft that meet all your requiremts to make the list.

    Armagnac – saw very limited airline service, but continued to fly for many tears. 9 built. A very appropiate quote about this plane (from Wikipedia): Jack Russell, a retired Australian Air Traffic Controller fondly recalled the Armagnac “…an 80-ton aircraft which resembled two shipping containers welded together lengthways with a wing and two under-powered engines protruding on each side. The aircraft’s performance matched its appearance.” . While passing above a Mangalore-bound Armagnac, a Trans Australia Airlines pilot when asked to report the S.E. 2010’s position, exclaimed “If it’s that block of flats below us, we’re passing it now!

    The Avro York started production before the end of WW2, were not liked by airlines. The same can be said about the Tudor (another quote from wikipedia): BSAA’s chief pilot and manager of operations, Gordon Store, was unimpressed: “The Tudor was built like a battleship. It was noisy, I had no confidence in its engines and its systems were hopeless. The Americans were fifty years ahead of us in systems engineering. All the hydraulics, the air conditioning equipment and the recircling [sic] fans were crammed together underneath the floor without any thought. There were fuel-burning heaters that would never work; we had the floorboards up in flight again and again

    Another British 4-engined with bad reputation, the HP Hermes (quoting again from Wikipedia): They were quickly replaced, however by the reliable Canadair Argonaut (another dud- bj) in 1952, although some re-entered service in July 1954 following the grounding of the de Havilland Comet, being retired again in December

    My last one was a very nice and well received twin, Airspeed Ambassador , called Elizabethan by BEA. But it was late for piston engined aircraft and BEA were soon replaced them with the Viscount . They flew for many more years with Dan-Air and other charter airlines.

  3. Some of the poll results are a bit weird.

    For instance, why is the A318 (79 delivered / 68 active) a bigger “dud” than the:

    – B747-8i (51 ordered)
    – A340-500 (34 delivered / 16 active)
    – B737-600 (69 delivered / 58 active)

  4. The problem as I see it with this poll is that we are not comparing like with like. Development costs and production runs prior to the 1970s, say, were much lower/shorter. It isn’t that long ago that an order for 20 or 30 frames would have been a major order, now such numbers are commonplace and regarded as relatively small, particularly for narrow bodies. It was also the case that technology moved very quickly, particularly in the 50s, so designs became obsolete very quickly – all the post war piston engine airlines and, to a large extent their turboprop successors suffered in that respect: they may not have sold in large numbers but that was because air travel for the masses was still in its infancy and technology was evolving so quickly. So it is probably fairer to consider the real lemons of recent times, and even here there there only a few poor designs. – the VFW 614 springs to mind in this respect. Others, such as the Airbus A340-500/600, Boeing 747-SP, Boeing 747-8, Airbus A319,Boeing 737-600, Boeing 757-300, Boeing 767-400 were perfectly good aircraft, just poor commercial decisions.

  5. Uhh..” The problem as I see it with this poll is that we are not comparing like with like. ”

    Then poll was intended to be a FUN thing… not really subject to a ‘ error analysis”… statistical uncertainty .. total cost in xx year dollars, etc.

    Please relax and enjoy the blinking lights !

    Now About the Chinese copy of a 707 that never flew ??

  6. I think the DC-10-40 should probably be included in derivative duds. Only 42 were delivered to only two airlines, while the DC-10-30 was the dominant long-range DC-10 variant.

    The reduced capacity, ultra-long range airplanes, the DC-6-62, 747SP, L-1011-500, A340-500, and 777-200LR have always been niche aircraft and CASM challenged. I’m not sure that makes them duds, unless they have an unusually short life.

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