MIAMI – Today in Aviation we celebrate the 49th anniversary of the maiden flight of the VFW-Fokker 614. On July 14, 1971, it was also the first time that the aircraft’s Rolls-Royce engine was tested in the air.
At least three West German aviation companies set plans to build a 40 seat plane in the 1960s. In the post-war context, the industry of the country decided to merge them and establish Vereinigte Flugtechnische Werke (VFW).
From the PLF1 to the VFW 614
The new aircraft design was intended to replace the Douglas DC-3, so a specific engine was requested. Lycoming Engines developed the PLF1 but later abandoned the project. Instead, the VFW 614 definitely used the new M45H with noise reduction, developed by Rolls-Royce.
The first sketches were approved. Thus the design without a T-tail and a low-set vertical stabilizer and a dihedral were born.
During the assembling, the company anticipated between 300 and 400 units sales of the model, marketing the VFW 614 as a civil aircraft, unlike the DC-3.
Once it was ready, the twin-engined jetliner became the first civil passenger aircraft produced in West Germany.
Without being previously tested, the VFW 614 made its first flight on July 14, 1971. Immediately, the first and second prototypes, which were almost similar, ran comprehensive trials for three months.
With a granted green light after 800 flying accumulated hours, the manufacturing of the first ten aircraft commenced.
However, the model witnessed cloudy skies, as Rolls-Royce went bankrupt and the first prototype was lost due to an elevator flutter.
The VFW 614 was developed to operate short-haul flights, being pretty quiet due to its specially developed M45H engine and soundproofing cabin.
The design was unconventional as engines were installed upon wing pylons at a mid-position to reduce structural weight, noise and ingestion risks.
In addition, the aircraft featured an unwept wing with a large trailing edge flap to provide an effective performance during low speed.
However, the jetliner was unable to do the same at high speed, limiting its operations due to the interference between the wing and pylon flow fields.
Groundings to come soon
Even when the engine program was not compromised during these mishaps, the development program by itself did, as several orders were canceled in the next years.
Then, in 1975, the first production of the aircraft made its first flight with Danish airline Cimber Air, but only ten aircraft were reported to be ordered.
As a result of the few orders, the VFW 614 program was canceled in 1977. Alas, it is safe to say that the aircraft did not meet expectations; it was never produced again.