History of the Airlines Air Canada

History of the Airlines Air Canada

Next in our history of the airlines Air Canada is the primary airline of Canada. This company was created in 1930 as Airlines of Canada. It purchased Canadian Airways Limited, which had been founded in 1925 by World War I veteran William ‘Bill’ Connors. The current name was given to this company in 1965.

Air Canada – The Piston Prop Years

Canadians flew onboard several aircraft throughout the early history of Air Canada. The first two were the Handley Page W8 f and Canadian Vickers Vedette II – a biplane with three seats, an open cockpit, and powered by a 110 hp Rolls-Royce engine. These planes flew out of Montreal’s Saint Hubert airport with scheduled flights to Hamilton (for connections with Transcontinental Air Transport) starting on September 12th, 1928 with a flight time was 2 hours 40 minutes.

The De Havilland DH-60X was another of the aircraft that this airline flew in its early years. This was a two-seater, open cockpit with side-by-side seating. A 130 hp Gipsy engine powered it (this is an aircraft engine with the fuel injection system located on top of the cylinder heads). By 1930, Air Canada had three De Havilland DH-60Xs. On May 27th, 1930, these planes were featured at Toronto’s first air show at Malton Airport.

In 1934 Air Canada purchased a Fokker Super Universal – a nine-seater monoplane with a three-engine system. The pilot had an enclosed cabin with two passengers seated next to him. A crew of three took care of the remaining five passengers – two were seated in front, and three were located in an aft compartment.

The Lockheed 10A Electra was another plane that this airline flew during this era. This was a ten-seat, twin-engine aircraft with an enclosed cockpit for all passengers, but no flight attendant. It also had more powerful engines than the Fokker Super Universal – these being Wright Whirlwind 985 hp radial engines. By 1939 Air Canada had six Lockheed 10As on its fleet.

On January 1st, 1941 Air Canada merged with other smaller Canadian airlines and began flying the Lockheed 10A Electra on routes previously flown by Canadian Airways Limited (this included transatlantic flights from Montreal to Prestwick in Scotland).

In 1946 Air Canada received its first Douglas DC-3. This plane was a twin-engined, propeller-driven plane. It could carry 21 passengers in an enclosed cockpit for the pilot and co-pilot, and another 14 in an open space at the back of the plane. The flight attendant/steward had their own area with seating that looked out over the wing of this plane. By 1949 there were 12 DC-3s in place on this fleet.

History of the Airlines Air Canada
Trans Canada Airlines, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

History of the Airlines Air Canada’s Jet Age

The Avro Aircraft Company, located in Ontario, Canada, manufactured the first version of the Avro Canada C102 Jetliner. Air Canada was one of three companies chosen to test fly this plane (Trans-Canada Airlines and United Airlines were the others). The C102 flew its maiden flight on August 4th, 1947. After testing by these companies there were no orders for this plane, however, it did inspire other planes that would later be used by Air Canada.

The first commercial jet aircraft to enter service with a North American carrier was the de Havilland D.H.108 – a prototype British airliner that never saw production due to crashes during testing (thus its nickname: Comet disasters). This plane had four jet engines and could travel at speeds of more than 500 mph (high-speed for its time).

The first North American carrier to fly this plane was Air Canada. This would be the first-ever test flight flown by a jet airliner in North America. On February 7th of that same year, this airline had DC-3s and Lockheed Electras make a simultaneous switchover on their aircraft to show how well they flew together.

The Canadair CL-4 was another plane that this airline flew in its early years. It is considered a part of both the Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) fleet and the Air Canada fleet – since it initially operated in conjunction with both airlines. This plane was a twin-engined, propeller-driven plane and had seating for 21 people with 4 crew members: pilot and co-pilot, and one flight attendant/steward per aircraft.

The Canadair North Star was another plane this airline flew in its early years. It is also considered part of both the TCA fleet and the Air Canada fleet – since it initially operated in conjunction with both airlines. (Note that TCA merged into Air Canada in 1950). The Canadair North Star is a four-engine propeller-driven airplane that carried 37 passengers when it first came into service by Air Canada in 1947. It had a service ceiling of 24,000 feet and a flying range of 3,000 miles. In 1950 it was used for transatlantic flights from Montreal to London, England.

In 1951 Air Canada tried out a new Canadair North Star to see how well it fit in with the rest of its fleet. This plane had a revolutionary design – being the first-ever pressurized airplane cabin for commercial use. It also carried 44 passengers and had a larger wingspan than earlier versions of the Canadair North Star.

The aircraft proved to be extremely popular by those that flew on it, as this aircraft was faster, could climb faster and higher, and could fly much farther without needing to refuel compared to other planes currently in service at this time. In 1952 Air Canada continued flying both earlier versions of the Canadair North Star and this new model.

The de Havilland D.H.106 Comet was first on order for Air Canada in July of 1952. This plane had four jet engines, carried 44 passengers, and could fly more than 2,000 miles at speeds of up to 500 mph. It had a service ceiling of 45,000 feet and an optimal cruise altitude of 41,000 feet above sea level. The first version of this plane began operating on May 8th, 1954; it could carry 56 passengers in both directions with 4 cabin crew members. In September 1955 there were 15 aircraft in use – seven by TCA and eight by Air Canada.

In 1956, this airline added another jet aircraft to its fleet: the Boeing 707-120. This plane had four jet engines (the most powerful of this time), could fly up to 650 mph, and carried up to 126 passengers.

In 1965 Air Canada was the first North American carrier to have a DC-8 in service. It was used on transatlantic flights between Montreal and London, England during the summer months – departing every Sunday evening at 9:00 pm for an eight-hour flight with stops in Montreal before crossing over to Gander, Newfoundland then onto Shannon, Ireland then onwards into Britain. On September 1st that year this airline flew its first-ever round trip international flight from Toronto Pearson International Airport (“YYZ”) to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

The Canadair CRJ100 was another plane that this airline flew in its early years. It is considered part of both the Air Canada fleet and the Jazz Air fleet – since it initially operated in conjunction with both airlines. This plane has 52 passenger seating, a flying range of 1,800 km (1,080 mi), a cruising speed of 912 km/h (567 mph), and a service ceiling of 12,500 feet. Each aircraft had 3 cabin crew members: one flight attendant/steward per aircraft seated on the rear right side next to an emergency exit.

In 1997 this airline began flying some new planes: The Airbus A319-100 and Airbus A320-200. These are narrow-body jets that carry between 130 and 165 passengers depending on the model.

In 2000 this airline added more to its fleet: the Airbus A330-300, Airbus A340-300, and Boeing 777-200ER. These are wide-body jets that carry 214 – 355 passengers depending on the model. In 2001 they began using a new fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft to fly domestic routes in North America.

In 2007 Air Canada was one of the very first airlines to have a Bombardier CS100 or CS300 in service. This aircraft has been used primarily for international flights; carrying up to 125 passengers (including 12 business class seats). It is part of both the Air Canada fleet and the Jazz Air fleet – since it initially operated in conjunction with both airlines.

History of the Airlines Air Canada: Current Aircraft

Air Canada has flown many different aircraft over the years. Some of them include The Canadair North Star, Canadair CRJ 100, Airbus A319-100, Airbus A320-200, Boeing 737-200, Boeing 777-200ER, Bombardier CS100/CS300, and more. These planes are either currently in use or were used until they were retired from service.

The current “Air Canada” fleet includes the following aircraft types:

  • Bombardier Dash 8 Q400
  • Bombardier CRJ 700
  • Bombardier CRJ 900
  • Embraer E190LR
  • Boeing 767-300ER
  • Airbus A321-200
  • Airbus A319-100
  • Airbus A320-200
  • Boeing 737-300
  • Boeing 777-300ER
  • Bombardier CS300

Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s and Bombardier CRJ700s are the only remaining aircraft in the Jazz Air fleet. Other planes that were previously in use but have since been retired from service include The Canadair North Star 747, Canadair Challenger 601, McDonnell Douglas DC9-30, and various other models of jets and propeller planes.