The de Havilland Comet, unveiled in 1952 to great acclaim, was beset with technical problems that grounded the entire fleet by 1954. One of the big design flaws? Square windows.
After World War Two, as part of an effort to develop its civil aviation industry, Britain stunned the world by unveiling the world's jet airliner. The de Havilland Comet was sleek, quiet, and flew higher and faster than any airliner of the day. As piston propeller technology was reaching its limits, the conventional thinking was that jet engines were too unreliable and produced too little power relative to their fuel consumption. But the de Havilland Comet proved that jet travel was the future. When the Comet entered service in 1952, it immediately began breaking travel time records and became a point of national pride for Britain.
The de Havilland Comet was perhaps little too ahead of its time. With such a clean sheet design, there will still lessons to learn. When early Comets suffered from catastrophic depressurization incidents, the entire fleet was grounded and their Certificate of Airworthiness was revoked. Flaws in the design of the aircraft's fuselage were resolved in later Comet versions. However, the rest of the world was now catching up, and manufacturers including Boeing and Douglas began to offer their own jet airliners. While later version Comets served airlines reliably, they were outsold by competing aircraft. There's no question However, that the comet paved the way. The British had taken a massive risk and brought the world into the jet age.
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