Planes of The Past Part 4- Lockheed L-1011

Todays (late, sorry bout that!) PoTP is about my favourite Trijet, the TriStar!

Delta Air Lines, one of the types major operators.

L-1011-1 , L-1011-200 , L-1011-500
Cockpit crew Three
Seating capacity 400 (1-class) 256 (mixed-class) (-1,200) 330 (1-class) 246 (mixed-class) (-500)
Cabin width (interior) 18 feet 11 inches (5.77 m)
Overall length 177 ft 8 1⁄2 in (54.17 m) 164 ft 2 1⁄2 in (50.05 m)
Wingspan 155 ft 4 in (47.35 m) 164 ft 4 in (50.09 m)
Tailspan 71 ft 7 in (21.82 m)
Overall height 55 ft 4 in (16.87 m)
Wing area 3,456 sq ft (321.1 m2) 3,541 sq ft (329.0 m2)
Maximum take-off weight 430,000 lb (200,000 kg) 466,000 lb (211,374 kg) 510,000 lb (231,332 kg)
Maximum landing weight 358,000 lb (162,386 kg) 368,000 lb (166,922 kg) 368,000 lb (166,922 kg)
Operating empty weight 241,700 lb (110,000 kg) 248,400 lb (113,000 kg) 245,400 lb (111,000 kg)
Max. speed Mach 0.95 (Max continuous speed = Mach 0.90)[99]
Cruising speed (at 30,000 ft (9,100 m)) 520 kn (963 km/h; 598 mph) 515 kn (954 km/h; 593 mph) 525 kn (972 km/h; 604 mph)
Stalling speed at max. landing weight with flaps and gear down 108 kn (200 km/h; 124 mph) 110 kn (204 km/h; 127 mph) 114 kn (211 km/h; 131 mph)
Range (with max. passengers + baggage) 2,680 nmi (4,963 km; 3,084 mi) 3,600 nmi (6,667 km; 4,143 mi) 5,345 nmi (9,899 km; 6,151 mi)
Range (max. fuel) 4,250 nmi (7,871 km; 4,891 mi) 4,935 nmi (9,140 km; 5,679 mi) 6,090 nmi (11,279 km; 7,008 mi)
Service ceiling 42,000 ft (12,800 m) 43,000 ft (13,100 m)[100]
Engines (×3) Rolls-Royce RB.211-22 Rolls-Royce RB.211-524B
Thrust (×3) 42,000 lbf (187 kN) 50,000 lbf (222 kN)
Fuel capacity 23,814 US gal (90,150 l) 26,502 US gal (100,320 l) 31,642 US gal (119,780 l)

The Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, commonly referred to as just L-1011, was the third widebody passenger jet airliner to enter operation, following the Boeing 747 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Development of the jet began in 1966 when American Airlines announced a need for a short to medium-range, large-capacity transport. In March of 1968, production began when Lockheed received orders for their design from TWA and Eastern Airlines. Despite showing interest in the TriStar, AA instead opted to purchase DC-10s.

Even though the TriStar design schedule closely followed that of its trijet competitor, the DC-10, Douglas beat Lockheed to market by a year due to now famous delays by Rolls-Royce. Due to development costs with the RB211, RR had filed for bankruptcy, halting L-1011 final assembly as the TriStar only offered the RB211 engine while the DC-10 offered both Pratt & Whitney JT9Ds and General Electric CF6s.

A differing feature of the TriStar compared to the DC-10 was the decision to place the No2 engine in a S-duct, similar to the Boeing 727 and different from the DC-10s “banjo frames”.

The TriStar was also arguably one of the most advanced aircraft of the time. It was the first widebody to receive FAA certification for Cat-IIIC autoland, which approved the Tristar for landings in places with zero visibility. In theory it could even taxi to the gate in zero visibility if the airport was properly equipped.

In addition, it also had this system called DLC. No, it did not mean that the plane was delivered without a part of the wing which needed extra payment to fit, it stood for Direct Lift Control. This system would place the spoilers on each wing to rise 7 degrees when the flaps were set to 28/42 degrees (landing flaps) and the gear was down. This could be adjusted by up to an extra 7 degrees in either direction. The theory was that the spoilers would kill lift enough to keep the plane level and glideslope corrections would be done by the spoilers instead of having to vary the pitch of the plane. When the pilot pushed slightly down on the stick, the spoilers would extend further, reducing lift and thus causing the plane to sink faster. The opposite stick movement would cause the spoilers to retract and the plane to rise. DLC would be effective all the way until landing. In fact, a former TriStar pilot once said that the spoilers were so good at killing lift, a go-around could be initiated at 10ft RA by retracting the spoilers. This would cause enough lift for the plane to immediately rise. The end result of all of this is that up and down pitch changes on final approach are minimised for passenger comfort.

The TriStar also had 4 redundant hydraulic systems compared to the DC-10/MD-11s three. Could the extra system have prevented United 232?

An advertisment for the L-1011.

Another interesting thing about the TriStar is that it was the only plane to have 2-2-2-2 seating! No, it didn’t have 3 aisles but instead of having 2-5-2 seating, TWA had their planes configured with wider aisles and a divider between the 4 seats in the middle. Why did this idea never catch on? One word, MONEY! Now you can blame those executives for when you’re stuck in the middle of a 2-5-2 plane…

Unfortunately, the thing that killed the L-1011 was the fact that the S-duct took away precious cabin space and the lack of range meant that the DC-10 was better for most airlines. The later L-1011-500 fixed the range problem but it was too little too late, and it still had too few seats. After the failure of the L-1011, Lockheed withdrew from the civilian airliners market, never to be seen again.


Built from 1972, the original L-1011-1 was the first production model of the L-1011 which was designed for short to medium range flights, thus the short range compared to the DC-10.

Later due to complaints about the range, the L-1011-100 was introduced in 1975 with a new centre fuel tank plus MTOW increases which bumped up the range by 1500km.

The L-1011-200 was a L-1011-100 with the new Rolls-Royce RB211-524B engines, increasing the performance. It first flew in 1976.

The L-1011-500 was a longer-range variant first flight tested in 1978. Its fuselage length was shortened by 14 feet (4.3 m) to accommodate higher fuel loads. The more powerful -524Bs of the -200 series were also fitted. The -500 series was popular among international operators and formed most of the L-1011 fleet of Delta Air Lines and British Airways.

Who operated the L-1011?
TAAG Angola Airlines
Sky Capital Airlines
Gulf Air
Air Canada
Air Transat
Royal Aviation
Worldways Canada
Hewa Bora Airways
Air France
LTU International
Cathay Pacific Airways
Air Atlanta Icelandic
Air India
Aer Lingus
All Nippon Airways
Air Rum
Barq Aviation
Privilege Jet Airlines
Royal Jordanian Airlines
Sky Gate International Aviation
Globe Jet
SAM Intercontinental
LAM Mozambique Airlines
ADC Airlines
Askari Aviation
TAP Air Portugal
EuroAtlantic Airways
Yes - Linhas Aéreas Charter
Air Lanka
Air Sweden
Blue Scandinavia
Nordic East Airways
Orient Thai Airlines
BWIA West Indies Airways
British Airtours
British Airways
Caledonian Airways
TBG Airways
Classic Airways
Court Line
Air America
American International Airlines
American Trans Air
Arrow Air
Delta Air Lines
Eastern Air Lines
Fine Air
Hawaiian Airlines
Las Vegas Sands Corp.
Orbital Sciences
Pacific Southwest Airlines
Pan American World Airways
Rich International Airways
Total Air
United Airlines
Trans World Airlines
JAT Yugoslav Airlines
Kuwait Airlines (leased BA airframe)

Just your friendly smoke generator come to visit!

I normally don’t add stuff like this but it’s the stuff of urban legend so it deserves a short note:

Eastern Air Lines Flight 401


As some of you may know, this particular TriStar crashed after the nose-gear light failed to illuminate, indicating that the gear was not properly lowered. While in a holding pattern at 2,000 feet over the Everglades National Park, the Captain bumped his control column, leading to the disconnection of the autopilot. With the attention of all three crew members focused on the landing gear and the extinguished light, the aircraft descended unnoticed into the ground. After the crash, Eastern Air Lines noticed that there were salvageable parts from the aircraft. You can probably guess what happened next… for more about the resulting stories.

As usual, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and maybe learnt something you didn’t. Constructive criticism is always welcome!

Oh and it’s my exam period so Part 5 most likely won’t be up for a while.

Have a great Easter Sunday and week ahead!


Ooh, shiny tri-holer. It must be added.

Love the L-1011. I’ve even heard it has a rear circle of lavatories. Quite a unique plane and it’s sad that practically no commercial operator operates them. :-(

But, #DC10Forever

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Hey, just so you know , Kuwait Airways isn’t on the list. They used leased aircraft from BA in the 70s or 80s.

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I’d still count leased as a operator so I’ll add that down as a note, thanks for telling me!

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This plane looks neat, but I prefer the dc10.

Horses for courses, everyone has their own preference. I love the L-1011 due to the sheer volume of tech compared to other airliners of the era, however the DC-10s number 2 engine is a work of art just for the design that went into it!

Look at TWA brochure, check rear area. I can see half circle of lavatories there so it’s true.

MaxSez: All Tri-Holers are man killers! The design was flawed from the start.
These Junk Yard Dog’s still flying are maintenance nightmare. Parts come from the bone yard. The fact that this craft has a high vote count is based on looks not performance or its unenviable safety record. Even the Russians move on in this antiquated design. Just Sayin.

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