Planes of The Past Part 2- Dassault Mercure

Hello and welcome back to PoTP! This is Part 2, featuring the French-built Dassault Mercure

The Dassault Mercure

General characteristics
Crew: three; pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer
Capacity: 162 passengers (high density layout) 140 passengers in regular layout
Length: 34.84 m (114 ft 3 1⁄2 in)
Wingspan: 30.55 m (100 ft 3 in)
Height: 11.36 m (37 ft 3 1⁄4 in)
Wing area: 116 m²[15] (1,248 ft²)
Aspect ratio: 8:1
Empty weight: 31,800 kg (69,960 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 56,500 kg (124,300 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney JT8D-15 turbofans, 68.9 kN (15,500 lbf) each
Maximum speed: 926 km/h (500 knots, 575 mph)
Cruise speed: 825 km/h (446 knots, 512 mph) (range cruise)[15]
Range: 2,084 km (1,125 nmi, 1,295 mi)
Service ceiling: 12,000 m (39,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 16.7 m/s (3,300 ft/min)
Takeoff roll: 2,100 m (6,900 ft)
Landing roll: 1,755 m (5,670 ft)
(thanks to Wikipedia)


The Mercure was proposed as a competitor to the Boeing 737. This new plane, backed by the French Government, would seat 140 (this was huge compared to the 737-100 which sat 100 and the -200 which sat 115) and first flew on the 28th of May 1971. It would also be a competitor (and touted as a replacement) to Douglas’s DC-9.

Unfortunately, it was built with the plane designed to connect Europe’s hubs, rather than a plane meant to do trans-con US flights. Thus, it had a truly miserable range of 1,125nm, a range more comparable to a well designed lawn dart rather than a competitor to the already established 737/DC-9. In fact, a joke about the plane was that it was never sold outside of France because it didn’t have the range to fly out of France!

In comparison, here are the ranges of its competitors:

732 initial range: 1,900nm
732 final range: 2,300nm
MD-81: 1,570nm (short range MD-80)
MD-83: 2,500nm (longest range MD-80)
MD-87: 2,300nm (optimized MD-80 giving up range for weight reduction)

The demand at the time in the US was for longer range variants. For US hubs, 2,300 to 2,500nm of range is needed to serve outlying markets. Hence the later improved 732/MD-80 range. Even today, lots of flights in Europe are only around 750-1500km so the range wasn’t too much of a problem in Europe but in the US this was a huge problem, thus the lack on interest by US carriers.

The cockpit of the Mercure 100

There was a Mercure 200 planned, with a better range and the then-new CFM56 engines. However, Marcel Dassault was concerned about the fact that the CFM56 had not had a single order yet, and production might end before the Mercure 200 could be built. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and we all know how the CFM56 turned out…

Sadly, only 12 were built and only operated by Air Inter, making them the first operator of a brand new French aircraft, just like the marginally more successful Airbus A320-100 they later operated.

“I want to know more!”
Have a look at this, makes for good reading!

Thanks again for reading, constructive criticism is always welcome :)

See you in Part 3!


Interesting that like it’s competitors, the Mercure used the JT8D series as well as the 737 and DC-9.


Not too surprising, it was a very popular engine that also fit very well underneath the wings without having to have such a high undercarriage. Without it, maybe the 737MAX wouldn’t need that nose gear lift…


It was one of the cleanest engines back in its prime. Hard to believe that today with the newer CFMs that are on the market.

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Who knows, we might be saying that about the GEnX and PW1100G in a few year’s time…

It was the same case with noise, the JT8D was also considered a quiet engine back when it was launched!


I like this series. Way to put this together sir.


Good effort here! This is great material for the forum. Keep it up! 🤙🏻


Thanks so much for the kind words, I’ll find ways to improve and make Part 3 even better!


It is nice having some really great topics here in the IFC!

I love the classic old look of the planes. Thanks for the time and effort you put into this post.


This plane is the definition of epic failure. Hard to believe Dassault produced this absolute dog of a plane, the same company that makes the top notch Falcon biz jet.
I guess we all have bad days?!

Never heard of this plane! Deffinately should continue these types of posts!

It’s just an A320 with a russian cockpit window…

I like the shades of blue on the fuselage.

Did you need to post that? There is really no point in posting this. That is just being horrible about his (good) feature request. Next time, just don’t say that.


What’s so bad that this has been classified under “vomit”? Do tell me!


Its got bigger wings than the 737, where did the extra storage for fuel go?

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Nowhere, it’s just that since it was designed for short hops the designers thought the extra fuel tanks were unnecessary for the plane, unlike the US built 737 where the range was needed to succeed.

Thus the later designed Mercure 200 having the extra fuel and newer engines.


Yay! A new one! Thanks for sharing:-)

Still the best plane to start out with in Airline Manager