Lockheed's airbus, the Tristar, made a successful first flight from Palmdale, California, yesterday (Monday, 16 November).
Lockheed's airbus, the Tristar, made a successful first flight from Palmdale, California, yesterday (Monday, 16 November). As it soared into the air it took with it the hopes and fears of the Rolls-Royce company which is in financial difficulty after producing its revolutionary new engines.
Much of the British firm's future is bound up with the success of the Tristar, which is powered by three massive Rolls-Royce turbofan engines to give it a cruising speed of 600 miles an hour. But the development costs have placed the company in such a plight that the British Government has had to step in with GBP48 million in aid.
The Tristar's first flight went exactly according to plan and afterwards Lookheed and Rolls-Royce chiefs were jubilant at its success. Particularly noticeable was the quietness of the engines as the airliner lifted off the runway. The engines produce more than twice as much thrust as the first generation of fanjets.
After the two-hour flight the Rolls-Royce programme director, Mr. Rex Nicholson, said he had the utmost confidence that his firm would be able to carry out its commitments in supplying engines. The contract could eventually be worth GBP1,000 million (2,400 million dollars) to Britain.
Flight Commander H.B. Dees told reporters that the flight went even better than expected.
Lockheed's future may largely depend on the success of the Tristar. The firm has been plagued in recent times by U.S. defence cutbacks and soaring costs. So far it has 178 firm orders for its airbus. It is scheduled to begin commercial service late next year.