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The Canadair North Star: Canada’s Upgraded DC-4

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From Simple Flying – link to source story

by Jake Hardiman | July 17, 2021

The Douglas DC-4 was an important aircraft at the end of and after the Second World War. The military C-54 ‘Skymaster’ version was an aircraft type that featured prominently in the Berlin Airlift, and the civilian DC-4 saw airline service all around the world. But did you know that Canada had an upgraded DC-4? This is the story of the Canadair North Star.

Canadair North Star
The North star’s upgraded engines enabled faster cruises. Photo: Ken Fielding via Wikimedia Commons

An inherited project

The decision for Canadair to produce an upgraded DC-4 known as the North Star was the result of a company takeover. Specifically, the group took over the operations of Canadian Vickers in November 1944. In doing so, it inherited a contract that Canadian Vickers had obtained, which required the production of an upgraded version of the Douglas DC-4.

The original DC-4 had a range of 5,300 km (2,900 NM), and typically cruised at a speed of 365 km/h (197 knots). Meanwhile, its maximum cruise speed was 396 km/h (214 knots), and it had a maximum outright speed of 450 km/h (240 knots). However, by re-engining its version of the DC-4, Canadair was able to offer upgraded performance figures.

Douglas C-54 Skymaster
The Douglas C-54 Skymaster outsold its civilian counterpart, the DC-4. Photo: Alan Wilson via Flickr

How did the North Star differ to the DC-4?

We have established that re-engining the DC-4 to produce the Canadair North Star resulted in better performance, but what exactly were the specifics of this alteration? Canadair opted to switch out the original DC-4’s existing radial piston engines for powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin V12s, which it mounted in Universal Power Plant (UPP) installations.

Otherwise known as ‘power eggs,’ these UPPs contained not just the engine itself but all of its ancillary equipment. These installations expedited quick-change engine swap procedures through their use of standardized attachment points and connectors.

In addition, Canadair drew inspiration from other Douglas designs when it came to producing its upgraded DC-4. For example, its nose and landing gear came from the DC-6, with middle fuselage sections and wing panels being taken from the military C-54.

Canadair North Star
Canadair drew on various other Douglas aircraft when designing the North Star. Photo: Bill Larkins via Wikimedia Commons

The North Star had the same 35.81-meter wingspan as the DC-4, but, at 28.54 meters long, was six centimeters shorter in length. The new engines saw it outperform the DC-4, with an impressive typical cruise speed of 523 km/h (282 knots). It also had a 17% better range than the original Douglas model, clocking in at 6,210 km (3,350 NM).

Variants and names

Earlier this week marked the 75th anniversary of the Canadair North Star’s first flight. The aircraft took to the skies for its maiden voyage on July 15th, 1946, and entered service later in the year. Canadair produced 71 examples of the type between then and 1950.

These aircraft flew for various commercial and military operators. Correspondingly, they were also referred to by a range of different names.

Canadair North Star
This example of the North Star was known as the C-5, and was the only one to have radial engines. Photo: Canada Department of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada via Wikimedia Commons

Canadair primarily developed the aircraft for Trans-Canada Air Lines, which was the country’s flag carrier at the time. This airline operated the original DC-4M.1 version of the North Star. However, Canadair also produced a pressurized version, known as the DC-4M.2.

This variant accounted for more than 50 examples of the production series as a whole. Elsewhere in Canada, Canadian Pacific Airlines referred to its North Star aircraft as the ‘Canadair Four.’ British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) called its examples ‘Argonauts.’

There was one example operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) that didn’t have the Rolls-Royce Merlin B12 engines. Canadair fitted this aircraft with Pratt & Whitney R-2800 ‘Double Wasp’ radial engines, in an attempt to reduce cabin noise.

Canadair North Star
Several smaller British carriers flew the North Star. Photo: RuthAS via Wikimedia Commons

These could also be found on the Douglas DC-6, from which the North Star drew some inspiration. Finally, Canadair did propose a stretched maritime patrol variant known as the CL-49. However, 1952 saw the RCAF opt against it in favor of the Bristol Britannia.

A distinguished military career

The RCAF deployed its unpressurized North Stars on various transport duties, in which they became infamous for their high cabin noise levels. This is what led to the aforementioned re-engining of a C-5 version with Pratt & Whitney radial powerplants.

This particular example flew for the RCAF from 1950 to 1967, even carrying out VIP transport duties. Despite the North Star’s notorious reputation for noise, it proved a reliable workhorse for the RCAF, and saw service in conflicts including the Korean War.

Canadair North Star
The RCAF never had a fatal accident with its North Stars. Photo: Ken Fielding via Wikimedia Commons

These aircraft had an impressive safety record, and flew for more than 1.9 million miles (many of these on transpacific trips to Korea) for the RCAF without a single fatal accident. The RCAF retired them in the 1960s and ’70s, as they had become surplus to requirements.

Commercial service

As far as commercial service was concerned, Trans-Canada Air Lines received 20 North Stars in 1947 and 1948. As well as flying the type domestically, TCA also deployed them on flights to the neighboring US. They even flew to Europe, although this ceased in 1954.

Noise complaints regarding the type persisted at TCA as they had done with the RCAF. As such, engineers at the company developed an exhaust crossover that saw cabin noise levels drop six to eight decibels, to 102 decibels by the window, and 93 for aisle seats.

BOAC & Qantas Hong Kong
BOAC North Stars, known by the airline as Argonauts, behind a Qantas DC-4 at Hong Kong in 1958. Photo: Unknown via Wikimedia Commons

BOAC received all 22 of its North Stars during 1949. It referred to them as the ‘Argonaut’ class, and gave each of them a name beginning with A. The carrier deployed them on long-haul services to destinations ranging from South America to the Far East until 1960.

Even after the North Star’s career at its headline operators like TCA and BOAC came to an end, the type still had life in it yet. Having left such carriers, the aircraft flew for several smaller UK-based airlines, such as British Midland. Other examples underwent cargo conversions. The final North Star-operated flight touched down in Miami in June 1975.

Canadair North Star
The sole survivor of the 71 North Stars is now undergoing restoration at a museum. Photo: JustSomePics via Wikimedia Commons

Just a single preserved example

Despite the North Star’s reliability as a military aircraft, and widespread commercial service in the airline industry, only one example of the type has survived to reach preservation. The aircraft in question is an ex-RCAF model of the C-54GM variant.

The preserved aircraft is presently being restored in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, Ontario. Based at the city’s Canada Aviation and Space Museum, it will provide visitors a timely reminder of Canadair’s ability to have enhanced the Douglas DC-4’s performance. In doing so, it created a reliable aircraft that nicely filled both commercial and military niches.

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Source: https://canadianaviationnews.wordpress.com/2021/07/17/the-canadair-north-star-canadas-upgraded-dc-4/

Aviation

Etihad rolls out IATA Travel Pass to seven cities following successful trials

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Etihad Airways has issued this statement:

Following successful trials, Etihad Airways has expanded IATA Travel Pass on flights between Abu Dhabi and seven destinations across its network as it continues to implement digital solutions to simplify the travel experience in the wake of the pandemic.

IATA Travel Pass is available for guests on all Etihad flights between Abu Dhabi and Bangkok, Barcelona, Geneva, Madrid, Milan, New York and Singapore and offers the convenience of a one-stop platform for managing COVID-19 documentation.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer at Etihad Aviation Group, said: “The feedback from the IATA Travel Pass trial has been positive, with Etihad’s guests appreciating its ease-of-use and data security. Etihad is pleased to now make IATA Travel Pass available on flights to and from seven major global cities, providing more guests with the option of simplifying their journey and airport experience.”

Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security, said: “Etihad’s decision to expand IATA Travel Pass based on positive customer feedback is a strong endorsement of the solution. IATA Travel pass was designed to provide a one-stop-shop solution for travelers to safely and efficiently manage their COVID-19 documentation and generate an ‘OK to Travel’ which airlines can trust. It’s great to see the app in use facilitating the restart of international travel.”

Etihad Airways was one of the first airlines globally to begin testing IATA Travel Pass in April 2021 in support of a global, standardized solution for travelers to validate their documents and navigate COVID-19 travel requirements.

To access the IATA Travel Pass, guests simply need to download the IATA Travel Pass app for Android or iOS, where they can add their Etihad Airways travel itinerary, view their travel requirements and securely share their PCR test results.

The IATA Travel Pass app also includes functionality to upload vaccination certificates, opening up opportunities for travel where vaccination is a requirement. Currently the app is able to accept EU Digital Covid Certificates issued by all 27 member states of the European Union plus Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Lichtenstein as well as vaccine certificates from Singapore and Qatar. As vaccines continue to roll out globally, more and more travelers around the world will be able to upload their government issued COVID vaccine certificates to facilitate seamless travel.

The airline is continuing to work closely with IATA to progressively roll out the digital travel pass to more cities across its route network.

More information including the installation instructions and list of participating IATA Travel Pass clinics in the UAE and worldwide can be found on etihad.com/iatatravelpass.

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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/07/29/etihad-rolls-out-iata-travel-pass-to-seven-cities-following-successful-trials/

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Contour Airlines to expand in Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh

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Contour Airlines has announced it will launch service to Milwaukee from Indianapolis and Pittsburgh starting on October 12.

Additionally the carrier will launch flights from Indianapolis to both Pittsburgh and Nashville.

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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/07/29/contour-airlines-to-expand-in-indianapolis-milwaukee-and-pittsburgh/

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Finnair to offer an affordable COVID-19 testing near Helsinki Airport

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Finnair has made this announcement:

Several EU countries require travellers to have a negative corona test as a requirement for entry. To make travel more accessible to more people, Finnair is now introducing a rapid antigen test that costs just 65 euros and is available from 4 August. Testing is handled by Finnair Health Services and it’s available at Finnair’s headquarters in Vantaa near the airport at Tietotie 9.

The test can be booked online at finnairtest.mbooking.fi. The booking can be made with a Finnish personal identity code, or your date of birth. The test result and certificate in English are delivered electronically within two hours. The results are also available in My Kanta in Finland.

“Pre-testing is a prerequisite for safe travel in many countries. Therefore it must be affordable and reasonably priced for anyone who wants to travel. Finnair’s new rapid antigen testing service smoothens the journey. The rapid antigen test is a good option for tourists arriving in Finland who need a negative corona test certificate for their return journey. A growing number of countries are accepting rapid antigen testing as a travel document. Our aim is to make this available also in other locations in Finland”, says Kaarlo Karvonen, Finnair’s Head of Security.

The rapid antigen test is valid in most EU and Schengen countries and you get the result quickly, making it easier to plan travel. The entry requirements of different countries can be checked on the travel restrictions map on Finnair’s website or the websites of the authorities of the countries. Some countries only accept PCR testing for pre-testing, which Finnair does not yet offer. The PCR test result can be obtained, for example, from Finnair’s partner Terveystalo or another health care provider.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/07/29/finnair-to-offer-an-affordable-covid-19-testing-near-helsinki-airport/

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ALC leases ten used Airbus A320s to Allegiant Air

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Air Lease Corporation (ALC) announced on July 28 long-term lease placements for ten used Airbus A320-200 aircraft with Allegiant.

The aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to the airline beginning in the Fall 2021 through Summer 2022.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/07/29/alc-leases-ten-used-airbus-a320s-to-allegiant-air/

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