Avro Arrow-An Aviation Chapter In Canadian History pg3
|Wing||Fly-by-Wire||Why was the Arrow Cancelled?|
|Setting the Record Straight: The Designer's View by Margaret McCaffery||"A
Flawed Plane and an Inept Corporation"?
The Historian's View by Margaret McCaffery
Flight tested in a B47 but never in an Arrow, the Iroquois engine was 19 feet long, four feet in diameter and composed of some 20% titanium alloys overall. With a 1:1 weight to thrust ratio, it would have given the Arrow better than Mach 2 speed.
Due to problems in acquiring a suitable engine, Avro decided to fit the first five aircraft with the Pratt and Whitney J75, which would give the Avro subsidiary, Orenda Engines, time to complete development of the lighter yet more powerful Iroquois engine. The Iroquois was approximately 19 feet long and four feet in diameter. To reduce weight, it employed fewer compressor stages and was composed of some 20% titanium alloys overall. In producing the rotor blades from titanium, Orenda's subcontractor, Canadian Steel Improvements, patented a process of precision casting.
At a combined 60,000-Ib thrust for an approximate 60,000-Ib aircraft, the Iroquois would have provided a 1:1 thrust to weight ratio. This would have given the Arrow a better than Mach 2 speed and perhaps Mach 3, limitations due to structural heating, not lack of power.(5) On November 1, 1957, dry thrust runs at over 20,000-Ib were demonstrated. Twelve days later, the Iroquois was flight tested on a B47 and proved that it alone could have powered this aircraft. Like the airframe, the Iroquois pushed the state of the art in engine technology. Unfortunately, it was never flown in the Arrow.
As good as it was, the Arrow was not without some problems. During the flight test program, two significant accidents occurred. The first, on flight number 11, involved failure of the left main landing gear to extend properly, causing the aircraft to veer off the runway. During an approach landing of the second Arrow, all wheels on the main gear skidded, with subsequent tire burst. The aircraft again veered off the runway. The resulting investigation showed that on this touchdown, the elevator had moved down, causing some backlift. This caused the pilot to overcorrect by applying too much braking pressure too soon, locking the wheels.
Other problems included failure of the nose gear door to retract and malfunctions with indicator lights and switches. Each was corrected in turn as the Arrow continued to meet and exceed specifications.
Jan Zurakowski, principal test pilot, stated that handling characteristics and performance agreed well with estimates. In flight number seven, he flew at 47,000 feet at Mach 1.52, while climbing. He indicated he was still accelerating and showing excess thrust available, and that handling was good. Pilot jack Woodman, the only military pilot to fly the Arrow, said the aircraft was "...performing as predicted and meeting all guarantees."
In 1958, Canada had an aircraft industry that was among the best in the world. Many foreign engineers emigrated to Canada specifically to become part of "The Team." After cancellation, both Britain and the United States eagerly sought to get the Avro Arrow for research purposes.
In 1959, the brain drain reversed. Many Avro engineers went to NASA, including John Hodge who became associate flight director, Project Mercury, flight director, Gemini, and later flight director, Project Apollo. Likewise, Jim Chamberlin became head of the Space Task Group's Engineering Division. Jim Floyd, P.Eng, the man who largely conceived the overall program and who was vice-president of engineering at Avro, returned to Britain where he was consultant on the Concorde and other leading edge, high technology projects. Others went to McDonnell, Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers.
Back at Avro, the remaining 200 engineers continued on in various projects. One of these was the Avro- car, an experimental all-wing vertical take-off vehicle, completed for the U.S. Air Force. In 1962, Avro closed its doors, leaving a legacy of concepts and ideas, including a vertical takeoff CF-100, a supersonic transatlantic transport, a spaceplane concept, and monorail- testimony to the advanced thinking of one of the best engineering teams ever assembled.
Recently, some newspapers carried a story of one reporter's flight in an F/A 18. In it, he exclaims how far Canadians have come in aircraft technology, just 79 years after J.D. McCurdy's first flight in Nova Scotia. We were there 30 years ago with a wholly Canadian product, the most powerful aircraft in the world.
years ago, the Canadian public was cheering the
launch of an aircraft that made headlines around
the world. Three years ago, one of Canada's foremost
historians, Dr. Desmond Morton, principal of
Erindale College, University of Toronto, described
the Avro Arrow as "a fatally flawed weapon,
on a par with those earlier monuments to our
military-industrial blundering, the Ross rifle
or the MacAdam shovel." In an article in the Toronto
Star, he said: "Politicians, our professional
scapegoats, took the blame for aborting a design
whose irnperfections should have been obvious
to a first-year engineering student."
"Prior to the NSC (National Security Council) paper (December 1958) and following a visit of the President to Canada in July 1958, Canada took the following actions with the understanding that her defense industry depended largely upon the U.S. channelling defense business into Canada; cancelled the CF-105 and related systems contracts; decided to make maximum use of U.S. developed weapons, integrated into NORAD; worked with U.S. toward a fully integrated continental defence."
exactly transpired at the July meeting with the President?
The Defense Production Sharing Arran- gements were
signed at this time. Was the Arrow program, because
of its rising costs, a bargaining chip for less expensive
American goods? Was the program effectively cancelled
shortly after this July, 1958 meeting?
Oddly enough, after its first successful flights, a media campaign attempted to discredit the aircraft.(7) Perhaps the reprieve until February 20, 1959, was to allow the flight test program to prove how poor the aircraft really was, making cancellation more palatable and logical. The opposite proved to be the case. Could this be why Arrow number six was never allowed to fly and break that speed record? Could this be why six of the most advanced aircraft ever built, along with all memory, had to be erased?
And how well did the defence sharing arrangements program work? The same memorandum continues:
"The last quarterly meeting of the Production Sharing Policy Group was held on 25 May (1960). Despite all efforts, over the period 1 January 59 through 31 March 60, Canadian defense business in the United States almost doubled that placed in Canada. Canada is not satisfied with these results, nor do they appear acceptable from our view."
Whatever the reasons for cancellation, the loss to Canada's engineering community and aviation industry remains incalculable. It is clear from international reports of the day that the rest of the world was highly impressed with the Avro corps of engineers and the Arrow. Thirty years later, it is time for Canadians and Canadian engineers to look back and be proud of this magnificent engineering achievement.
forget to read the next installment:
Jim Floyd, P.Eng., designer of the Avro Arrow, provided valuable assistance in preparation of the article and supplied photographs of the Jetliner. Other photographs courtesy Department of National Defense and Arnold Rose, P.Eng.
1. Paul Wilkinson, Aircraft Engines of the World, Washington: Paul Wilkinson Publishers, 1958, pp. 108, 109, 182, 183, 311.
2. The Arrowheads, Arrow, Erin: Boston Mills Press, 1986, pp. 83-93.
3. William Gunston, An illustrated Guide to Future Fighters and Combat Aircraft, New York: Arco Publishing Corps, 1984, pp. 1-35.
4. John Adam, "How to Design an Invisible Aircraft", IEEE Spectrum, April 1988, Vol 25, Number 4.
5. J.S. Butz, "Iroquois Based on Supersonic Efficiency" Aviation Week, July 29, 1957, pp. 26-27.
J.S. Butz, Canada Seeks U.S. Defense Contracts" Aviation Week, March 2, 1959, pp. 25-27.
6. Robin Ludlow, "Canada's CF-18' A bat out of hell'," Ottawa Citizen, Saturday March 19, 1988, Section H, pp.H1.
7. K.Shaw, There Never Was An Arrow, Ottawa: Steel Rail Publishing, 1981, pp. 66-111.
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