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28th of May 1971

Another first flight in today's aviation history blog, and another French aircraft.

The first flight of Dassault's first commercial aircraft, the Mercure

In April 1969 the Mercure was officially launched as the French counterpart to the Boeing 737.

It took another 3 years and 8 days until the entry into service with French airline Air Inter on the 4th of June 1974.

After the rollout in April, the prototype Mercure 01 lifted off from Dassault's Bordeaux-Merignac plant on this day in aviation history in 1971. powered by 2 P&W JT8D-11 engines providing 15.000 lbs of thrust each (all other Mecure airframes would be powered by P&W JT8D-15 engines rated at 15.550 lbs of thrust).

The aircraft never became the success that was envisaged (the production and sale of more the 300 aircraft). The lack of success of the aircraft is attributed to several facts, the value of the US Dollar, oil price and some others. But also the range of the aircraft, only ~12oo miles, made the aircraft far less interesting than its competitors like the DC9, B737-200 and the BAC1-11. Some attempts were made to design a longer-range version (the Mercure 200) but this plan was abandoned due to the huge expected development cost. Only 12 Mercure aircraft were ever built. 2 Prototypes and 10 production aircraft, with Air Inter as sole operator. the 2nd prototype was refurbished and after completion of the test program and subsequently added to the Air Inter fleet. The last flight of a Mercure took place on the 29th of April 1995 ending the 21-year career of the aircraft.

The Mercure fleet flew ~440.000 flights during its operational life and achieved a 98% dispatch rate.

Some Mercure specifications:

Crew: 3 flight crew

Capacity: 162 all-economy

Length: 34.84 m (114 ft 4 in)

Wingspan: 30.55 m (100 ft 3 in)

Height: 11.36 m (37 ft 3 in)

Wing area: 116 m2 (1,250 sq ft)

Aspect ratio: 8

Empty weight: 31,800 kg (70,107 lb)

Max takeoff weight: 56,500 kg (124,561 lb)

Fuel capacity: 18,400 l (4,900 US gal; 4,000 imp gal)

Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney JT8D-15 low bypass turbofan engines, 69 kN (15,500 lbf) thrust

Maximum speed: 704 km/h (437 mph, 380 kn) EAS up to 6,100 m (20,000 ft)

Maximum speed: Mach 0.85 (1041 km/h) 6,100 m (20,000 ft)

Cruise speed: 926 km/h (575 mph, 500 kn) at 6,100 m (20,000 ft)

Range: 2,084 km (1,295 mi, 1,125 nmi) with 4,100 kg (9,000 lb) fuel reserves

Rate of climb: 16.783 m/s (3,303.7 ft/min) at 2,135 m (7,005 ft), at 45,000 kg (100,000 lb)

Fuel consumption: 2.96–5.03 kg/km (10.5–17.8 lb/mi) (2,440 kg / 825 km to 4,700kg / 935km)[2]

Takeoff roll: 2,100 m (6,900 ft)

Landing roll: 1,755 m (5,670 ft)

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