Publié par : merelmarc | 29 août 2020

Revolutionary Avro Arrow

The Avro CF-105 Arrow was one of the most revolutionary planes flying in the world. It was designed by Canadian Avro in 1954 in Ontario.
But it was scratched in 1959 by the Canadian Government !

Many said that Boeing was so impressed (shadowed !) that, it is USA pressure that killed the Arrow. In reality, just like the C-Series (designed by Bombardier), it failed because it was not supported by contracts of the governments and the army.

Canada has always beeen well known for its rugged bush planes and its firefighters. From the late 1930s, it started manufacturing British-designed planes. Many became iconic like the Avro Lancaster bomber.

However, Avro engineers were determined to produce Canadian designs.
In 1949 Avro created the first North America’s passenger jet, C-102 Jetliner, then in 1950, the CF-100 Canuck jet fighter.

Avro pioneered the Avrocar, a flying saucer ! featuring vertical take-off and landing aircraft. Another group worked on STV (a space shuttle !) to take a man in space and back. By 1959 a supersonic transatlantic airliner was ready for tests (Only 2 other were ever built: the Concorde and the Tupolev 144). Canada was really at the technological cutting edge.

AvroCar

When in 1954, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) published requirements for a new fighter, the Avro Arrow won easily. The interceptor was able to fly and fire at 50,000 ft and could be operated in the Arctic cold. Avro engineers invented new weapons and new missiles, real-time telemetry, first ejector seats and the incredible supersonic Iroquois engine. It was also the first computer-controlled system (Even today the old manual cable controls are still used on most aircrafts !).

By 1958, there were five Arrows flying Mach 2 prototypes (more than 2000 km/h), another four almost ready to fly at Mach 3, and one hypersonic Mach 5 Arrow was on the drawing boards (2 km per second).

The Avro CF-105 Arrow was a revolutionary plane. In fact, so advanced that Canada didn’t have the facilities for testing it. Instead, they had to fly in Langley, Virginia’s NASA research centre.

But aviation projects are very expensive, and only a handful of countries could carry them out.
Canada, unfortunately, wasn’t one of them.
By the time it was cancelled, the cost of the programme had reached today’s equivalent of 2.5 billions $.

In spring 1959, the Avro company president announced:
« That fucking prick in Ottawa (John Diefenbaker) has cancelled the entire Arrow programme » !

They were required to destroy the blueprints. Diefenbaker’s government ordered all the prototypes to be broken, despite offers from Britain and the United States to buy all the planes and plans. The top of the art Iroquois engine, was given to Britain for their research into supersonic flight to be used for the Concorde (designed by Sud-Aviation and British Aerospace).

Fortunately, senior draftsman Ken Barnes, hid documents in his basement and apparently the prototype RL-202 made its way to England ?

15,000 skilled men and women lost their jobs. It is three times more when adding associated industrials. The same day, Nasa recruited many of them, who joined the United States: the « Avro Canadian Engineers Group » played a major role in Nasa’s projects:
. Jim Chamberlain, ex-chief technical design, led the Gemini mission and the Lunar Orbit Rendez-vous.
. Owen Maynard, a former senior engineer, was responsible for the design of the Lunar Module.
. Barnes designed the Canadarm, the robotic arm for Nasa’s Space Shuttle.
. Many of the Avro group worked on the Space Shuttle programme and the International Space Station.

You won’t find many other countries that invested so much in an aircraft and never obtained any benefit !

And Canadian federal government did it again with C-Series: they offered a miserable 1/3 of a billion $ in repayable loans to Bombardier. Boeing quickly criticed unfair subsidies. For the record, Boeing received 75 billion $ from the U.S. government !

Also, remember the 1 billion $ Canada gave to their friends of the WE Charity program !

With such enthousiastic support from Canada, it is not impossible the Avro Aircraft may have faced the same fate even if the Arrow had not been killed.

Pictures Credit: Avro Canada/Canada Aviation and Space Museum
Inspired by BBC 20200615 the-record-breaking-jet-which-still-haunts-a-country


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