Canada’s Only Jetliner: The C-102Canada’s Only Jetliner: The C-102

September 26th, 2007
Raul Colon
PO Box 29754
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico 00929

Tested for the first time during the morning of August 10th, 1949; just a few weeks after de Havilland’s successful test of its Comet Jetliner; the C-102 was the first and last major attempt by a Canadian company, in this case the AV Roe Canada Limited, to built a commercial jetliner. Although some airlines, especially in the United States, showed some interest, the advent of the Korean War and the urgent need to provide the Canadian Royal Air Force with CF-100 fighters, terminated the program in 1951. The C-102 was a futuristic aircraft design, one very similar to the Comet. The C-102 original program called for the construction of two prototype planes. These aircraft were designed to gather information about the handling characteristics of the 102 and its engine performance at high speed. In the end, only one operational 102 was ever manufactured. The other example was almost complete when the program was terminated.

The only 102 produced had a fuselage of 80’-9” in length with a height of 26’-5”. The wing span was 98’-0” with total wing area being 1,156sq ft. Full pressurization was one of the main features of the 102. With the advantage of pressurization, the 102 could accommodate thirty to fifty passengers plus a crew of three. The main cabin was fitted with noise reduction materials and equipment in order to reduce the noise signature of the four Rolls-Royce Derwent 5/17 (3,600lb) turbojets mounted on the wing structure near the main fuselage. There were talks between Avro and the Canadian government to change the engine configuration in favor of the newest Rolls-Royce’s AJ-65 turbojet engine, but the British government did not permit Rolls-Royce to realize the engine system for use in a civilian aircraft. Its tail was, like many of its contemporaries, upswept. The 102’s flight deck was conventional in layout fitted with dual control systems for the pilot and co-pilot. The plane undercarriage consisted of a tricycle configuration with its main dual wheels retracting into the rear of the engine area, while the front wheel would do the same under the plane’s nose cone. The Rolls-Royce engines installed on the 102 gave the aircraft top speed of 430mph. It also provided the C-102 with the ability to climb at an impressive 1,840ft per minute. Operational service ceiling was a pleasant 37,300’. With all fuel tanks filled, the C-102 was able to operate at a range of 1,250 miles.

After a gruelling series of taxi testing, the 102 became airborne for the first time in August 10th. With its maiden test, the 102 defeated Boeing’s efforts to be the first company to fly a commercial jetliner over the skies of North American, by almost three full years. The 102 had another claim to fame. After the cancellation, the lone operational C-102 sample was sent to the U.S. for further testing before the prototype was sent back to Avro for data collection on the CF-100 program. The other prototype was destroyed within a year after termination. Today only the nose cone of the 102 survives. It is on display in Canada’s National Aeronautical Collection Center. A lone remainder of an era long past.