The very first jetliners (Comet, Tu-104, Caravelle I-VI, 707-120/-220/-320, DC-8 series 10-30, original 720, CV-880) all used turbojet engines, turbofans not being available until later; when turbofans became a viable option, jetliner manufacturers switched over to turbofans en masse for their new designs (including the later versions of the Caravelle, 707/720, and DC-8), and some of the older, turbojet-powered airliners were converted to also use turbofans, but many already-built jetliners continued to fly under turbojet power for decades.

I have been unable to ascertain precisely how long subsonic1 turbojet-powered airliners continued to carry paying passengers in regular service. Wikipedia says that the Tu-104 was withdrawn from passenger service in March 1979, and the Comet last carried paying passengers in 1981, but does not provide a citation for either statement, and I have been unable to find any information as to when the other turbojetliners were retired from passenger service.

Can someone help with this?

  1. Yes, I am aware that the Concorde used turbojets; it does not count for the purposes of this question, as it was a supersonic aircraft, cruising at Mach 2, where turbojets are actually more efficient than turbofans, whereas this question concerns those early subsonic aircraft that were only built with turbojets because turbofans were not yet an option.

EDIT: The original intent of this question was to ask when the last subsonic turbojetliners in scheduled passenger service anywhere in the world were retired, but John K's comment raises the good point that these aircraft would have hung on in the dusty corners of the globe for a good long while after they were retired in places like the U.S. or western Europe. Therefore:

When were paying passengers last flown in scheduled service on subsonic turbojet-powered airliners...

  1. ...in First and Second World countries (U.S., Canada, Europe, East Asia, Australasia)?
  2. ...anywhere in the world?

EDIT 2: The Trident 3B also does not count, as it was mostly turbofan-powered, using the turbojet only as an additional booster on takeoff for hot-and-high operations.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You'd have to define locality, because most of the obsolete stuff retired in North America would end up in South America for another couple of decades and you'd have seen old turbojet DC8s and such down there hauling freight probably into the 90s. $\endgroup$ – John K Nov 1 '18 at 0:47
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnK: Good point. Edited. $\endgroup$ – Sean Nov 1 '18 at 21:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Perhaps related $\endgroup$ – Dave Nov 1 '18 at 21:53

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