The last generation of large piston engines powering airl;iners ... had seen them developed to their limits. VH-EBA Eagle Farm 17 December 1964

Qantas Joins the Jet Age (Part 1)

Eric Allen tells the story of how Qantas moved on from its turboprops to enter a new era of aviation. Read part 2 here.

The selection of a Boeing aircraft to lead its fleet into the jet airliner era was a pivotal move to cement Qantas’ progress in the decades ahead. It was a decision made after a lengthy investigation looking at alternative aircraft. It proved to be the correct decision, but not without some controversy over the selection of US aircraft and engines over those from the British aviation industry.

In the mid 1950s when the investigations began, Qantas was looking closely at its overall operations, both on services to Great Britain and also the trans-Pacific routes. The trans-Pacific routes were challenging because of the distances between a diverse mix of airports to be served, some with operational limitations. Qantas with its elegant Lockheed L1049 Super Constellation was in competition with Pan American’s imposing and spacious Boeing 377 Stratocruiser. Both aircraft were powered by the ultimate piston engine developments, not without periodic problems in operations from their powerplants — some serious propeller/engine failures in the case of the Stratocruiser in particular.

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