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(Source) Boeing 307 of TWA, the 307 was the first pressurized passenger aircraft.

The 307 (c. 1938) flew as high as 23,300 ft, lower than the jets of nowadays, and did not have a built-in oxygen system as evident by the picture above.

So what was the first passenger aircraft to have a built-in oxygen system, as opposed to carry-on oxygen?

  • $\begingroup$ Probably a military-surplus C-47 that retained its oxygen system after being sold into the civilian market. $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Dec 27, 2017 at 1:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark - it's a possibility, but I'm referring to oxygen for emergency with the cabin pressurized. $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Dec 27, 2017 at 1:21
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    $\begingroup$ It was common for even un-pressurized airliners to have oxygen available for the passengers. Especially when operating in mountainous areas. The difference was that it was portable oxygen bottles that were distributed on an as needed basis by the flight attendants. $\endgroup$ Dec 27, 2017 at 4:58

2 Answers 2


The B307 may have been the first pressurized airliner, but it was usually flown at 12,000', and did not have a passenger supplemental oxygen system.

Boeing 307 / C-75 Stratoliner 1938

"Captain Frank E. Adams, 23.02.2011 I flew the S-307 2 years for Pan American Airways (1943/1944) and today remain one of the few pilots in the world who is still rated for this aircraft. My biggest complaint about this description is that the aircraft could only be pressurized to a maximum of 2.4 psi so that the advertized service ceiling of 26,200 feet is greatly exagerated. A flight altitude of 22,000 feet would result in a cabin altitude of 14,000 feet and we had no passenger emergency oxygen on board. Also,the Wright engines had no turbos and so were basically sea-level engines which could not retain cruising power output above 12,000 feet. For this reason we flew the S-307 at 12,000 feet southbound and 11,500 feet northbound between Miami and Panama."

Later pressurized airliners like the Douglas DC-7, Lockheed Constellation and De Havilland Comet were flown much higher and I expect they would have had some form of built-in supplemental oxygen system for the passengers. (unfortunately I can't find any evidence online)

I did find an advertisement from January 1957 which shows a Scott passenger oxygen system which would represent what was used on the Boeing 707. (first entered service in October 1958)

Flying Magazine Jan 1957

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  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Those people look a lot less worried than I'd expect of passengers on emergency oxygen. $\endgroup$
    – cpast
    Dec 27, 2017 at 3:49
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    $\begingroup$ @cpast The flight attendant is telling them that everything is fine, so why worry? Everything's fine! $\endgroup$
    – user
    Dec 27, 2017 at 7:35
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    $\begingroup$ Just an oxygen shower, like a cigarette back on the day. $\endgroup$
    – user7241
    Dec 27, 2017 at 17:50
  • $\begingroup$ Cpt. Adams's memory is inaccurate in at least one respect; the 307's engines were supercharged. $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Sep 25, 2019 at 22:42
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    $\begingroup$ Capt Adams was commenting on the fact the Boeing 307 didn’t have turbochargers. Turbochargers are better suited for higher altitudes than single speed superchargers. $\endgroup$ Sep 26, 2019 at 0:20

While researching for the question, I was only able to find the first liquid-based oxygen system, which is this answer:

The Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization (PICAO) issued recommendations in May of 1946 that oxygen must be made available in commercial aircraft that fly above 10,000 feet (whether pressurized or not).

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(Source: Flight) A young child's oxygen cot (or Oxycot) of 1948, one of the early solutions to supply infants with oxygen in case of emergency.

One of the first airliners to feature a built-in solution, based on liquid oxygen, was the British Vickers VC10, which first flew in 1962.

On long-haul aircraft, liquid-oxygen supplies for the emergency oxygen system offer considerable attractions in weight and space saving, as compared with gaseous oxygen systems. One of the first airliners to be thus equipped will be the VC10, for which Normalair Ltd, of Yeovil, Somerset, are supplying a 35-litre liquid-oxygen converter (Flight, 1962).

enter image description here
(Source: Flight) An early passenger oxygen kit for planes without built-in oxygen.

The following ad from 1962 says the VC10 was the first airliner to have a liquid-oxygen based system.

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(Source: Flight) Click to view.

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – Farhan
    Dec 27, 2017 at 13:51

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