First Passenger Jetliner built in North America, Avro C102

Updated: May 22

The Avro Canada C102 Jetliner was a Canadian prototype medium-range turbojet-powered jet airliner built by Avro Canada in 1949. It was beaten to the air by only 13 days by the de Havilland Comet, thereby becoming the second jet airliner in the world. The government's expropriation of National Steel Car ltd on November4 1942 led to setting up of the Crown Corporation, Victory Aircraft Limited, incorporated under the Department of Munitions and Supply Act, 1940 During the second world war, Victory Aircraft built 430 Avro Lancaster Mk X heavy bomber, 3197 Avro Anson bomber, 6 Avro Lancastrian transport plane, 1 Avro Lincoln heavy bomber, and 1 Avro York transport plane. All were British-designed aircraft built for the second world war effort.

Avro C102 passenger jetliner 1949-1951

In 1945, the Canadian government sold Victory Aircraft to Hawker Siddeley Group who renamed the company A.V. Roe Canada, more commonly known as Avro Canada. British born engineer Jim Floyd, joined Avro Canada in 1946 and focus shifted toward building civilian aircraft transportation. All jet powered aircraft at this time were military aircraft. ​ Floyd’s design team soon began technical work on a jet-powered passenger plane for Trans Canada Airlines (TCA)—an especially ambitious undertaking, Intending the new aircraft for service on middle-range regional routes, the airline wanted it to be capable of cruising at 425 m.p.h. with a 1,200-mile range, but Floyd’s team sought to exceed the TCA specs.

The TCA’s contract with Avro Canada had promised the airline a fixed price for each Jetliner, forcing the manufacturer to assume all financial risks associated with new aircraft development. In 1947, when Avro Canada informed TCA that it could no longer meet the fixed price, the airline backed out of the deal. In addition to the changing specs and costs, the TCA was wary about being the first in the world to operate jet-powered passenger airliners. Furthermore, passenger traffic had not increased as TCA had anticipated, and its new fleet of prop-driven Canadair North Stars appeared suitable for their foreseeable needs.

Avro Canada’s management pressed on with the aircraft’s development and the construction of a prototype, with the assistance of some federal government subsidies. It was beaten to the sky, however, by the de Havilland Comet—a passenger jet then under development in Britain for use on transcontinental routes—which made its maiden flight on July 27. Just 13 days later, the Jetliner became the first commercial jet plane in North America. Sensing American interest, Avro launched promotional flights in the states. In April 1950, the Jetliner carried the world's first jet airmail from Toronto to New York City in 58 minutes– half the previous record. The aircraft was considered suitable for busy routes along the US eastern seaboard and garnered intense interest, notably from Howard Hughes who even offered to start production under license and ordered 30 jetliners for TWA.

However, in 1951 because of continued delays in Avro Canada's all-weather interceptor project, the CF-100 Canuck, led to an order to stop working on the project by cabinet minister C.D Howe. Jim Floyd stated that the Jetliner could have easily been produced alongside a growing number of Canuck fighters. Despite granting the $1.5 million loan, Howe’s response to National Airlines’ interest in the Jetliner was “no way”. This was revealed in an interview with Avro Canada’s Chief Design Engineer, Jim Floyd, who also said that: “C.D. Howe at that time was God as far as the aircraft industry in Canada was concerned”. Howe was likely also aware of the USAF’s official interest in the Jetliner, yet there is no evidence that Avro was ever informed.

Howe had spent considerable effort clearing airspace for the Canadair North Star, a Douglas DC-4 variant built specifically for TCA. The piston-powered North Star was no match for the Jetliner, yet 20 aircraft had already been earmarked for TCA on Howe’s orders. This commitment undoubtedly hamstrung the airline’s ability to field the Jetliner. There was a lot of speculation that Howe was influenced by Americans in the cancelation of the Avro jet liner. As the Canadian government sold Victory Aircraft Limited to Hawker Siddeley Group in 1945 what right did C D Howe have to cancel a non government aircraft project. The USA had the most to gain with the downfall of Avro Canada. Howe was born in born in Massachusetts, and if his close ties with Americans remained loyal he might have been influenced by them into canceling this private aircraft project in favor of building the cf-100 Canuck interceptor. The CF-100 Canuck was the worlds most heavily armed fighter jet at the time and was used in the Korean War the North Americans were participating in.

The Avro jet liner was clearly well ahead of its time in technology advanced aircraft and future involvement of incompetent Canadian government in Avro would also play a hand in the down fall of the CF-105 advanced fighter jet program.

The Canadian government has suppressed technology in Canada in the past and is still doing so with the present day incompetent Trudeau liberal government of today. Canada would have been a world leader in aircraft design and possibly a leader in space technology as most of the engineers from the Avro company went to Nasa after the cancelation of the Avro Arrow which was the worlds most advanced fighter jet decades ahead of its time.

Supporting Video The vintage space

The Canadians Who Got America to the Moon. Avro Arrow CF-105 Advanced Fighter jet