DALLAS – Today in Aviation, the unique VFW-Fokker 614 took to the skies for the first time in 1971.
The manufacturer had built three prototypes (D-BABA/B/C) for testing. ‘BA’ would operate the maiden flight.
Two of the other prototypes were sent to Spain. This allowed the ramp-up of flight testing for the airliner to be put into production.
It was also the maiden flight of the aircraft’s Rolls-Royce/SNECMA M45H turbofan engines. The power plant had been specifically designed for the 614. Originally the jet was to be powered by a pair of US-built Avco-Lycoming PLF1B-2 turbofans. However, the manufacturer ended its development due to a lack of orders.
The placement of the 614s engines was revolutionary. Rather than placing the power plants under the wing or at the rear of the fuselage, these would be mounted above the wing at the mid-wing point. VFW hoped this would make the engines less vulnerable to ingestion, allowing the aircraft to operate from unpaved runways.
German Born Jet
The VFW-Fokker 614 was created by the West German aircraft manufacturer Vereinigte Flugtechnische Werke (VFW) in the early 1960s. The jet was designed as a replacement for the Douglas DC-3 to operate up to a dozen short flights daily.
By 1970, VFW had merged with the Dutch plane maker Fokker. But in 1972, D-BABA was lost during a test flight. Two of the three crew members survived, but the airframe was destroyed.
The crash severely impacted confidence in the 614. Only ten aircraft had been ordered when the first delivered to Cimber Air (QA) of Denmark in early 1975. Two years later, VFW-Fokker cancelled the program. Just 19 airframes were ever built.
Featured Image: The positioning of the engines gave the VFW-Fokker 614 a unique look. Photo: Peter Nath, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.