The need to protect passengers from terrorism was not uppermost in the mind of the Douglas Aircraft designers when they developed the DC-3, and they could not have guessed that they had designed the world’s first mass-produced airliner. The aircraft first flew in 1935, and during World War II it became the workhorse of Allied air forces all over the world as the C-47 Dakota.
More than 12,000 were built, but of the hundreds flown by airlines in recent years, only a handful remain in Europe. But now European Union regulations have succeeded in effectively stopping the faithful Dakota from flying fare-paying passengers because the aircraft cannot economically be fitted with escape chutes and security doors, deemed essential for 21st century airliners.
Consequently, before the July 15 deadline for the application of the new regulations, Air Atlantique has been running a series of “farewell flights” for enthusiasts in the UK. And unless the EU changes its policy, no more fare-paying passengers may be flown in the aircraft during the RAF Memorial Flight, maintained in conjunction with Air Atlantique.
Plans for the DC-3 to put in an appearance during tomorrow’s flying display at Farnborough have been abandoned, so, regrettably, “greybeard” visitors will not get the chance to see the Dakota overhead saying “farewell.”