The following article talks about the DC10 arrivals at Yugoslav Airlines. The first arrival took place on December 12, 1978 but there was some drama involved when the aircraft was chosen.
First DC10-30 arrives
By thorough and comprehensive monitoring of the market and competition, Yugoslav Airlines concluded that the European and Mediterranean sky was already divided and exploited to its maximum and thus new breakthroughs were no longer possible. JAT believed that it could count on 3 -5 million passengers annually on the existing market, a level which it already had achieved by the mid 1970s. Intercontinental operations appeared as the sole possibility for further expansion. Considering the positive experience gained from establishing, primarily charter services to Australia, the United States and Canada, JAT concluded that these routes were worth pursuing. With a view of modernising intercontinental operations, broadening capacities and reducing costs, a decision was made to purchase wide body aircraft.
Comparative studies were carried out in 1976 and 1977 and consultations and negotiations were held with aircraft manufacturers. JAT was considering two models of aircraft: the three engine Douglas DS10-30 and the four engine Boieng B747SP. The shorter body Boeing had a greater range than the classic B747 and when fully loaded was capable of flying from Belgrade to Singapore. Therefore, the obvious choice for the airline was the B747SP and the decision was made to purchase the aircraft. However, just before signing the contract a situation occurred redolent of the late 1960s when instead of the selected aircraft another was bought. Thus, instead JAT opted for the Douglas DC10-30 instead of the Boeing B747SP. Despite a decision by the JAT Workers Council to buy the Boeing, the contract for the first DC10 was signed on June 15, 1977, and for a second on February 2, 1978. JAT had many headaches after choosing the aircraft. Immediately after singing the second contract a strike broke out within the aircraft manufacturer and JAT’s delivery dates were pushed back by nearly 10 months. This meant that JAT would have to make major changes to its 1978 summer season.
After a lengthy wait, the first JAT DC10-30 registered YU-AMA and christened Nikola Tesla, landed at Belgrade Airport on December 12, 1978. With the arrival of a 280 seat aircraft capable of carrying more than 4 tonnes (the quantity annually transported by JAT at the time), along with great comfort and speed, JAT could begin intensely focusing on its long haul operations. Three days later JAT operated the first flight with the DC10 on the service Belgrade-Zagreb-Ljubljana-New York. The DC10 represented great progress, not only in terms of expanding capacities. The aircraft had put forth quite new demands and elevated standards with regard to passenger service. This meant that there would be 13 cabin crew members on board, while the 12 seat first class cabin had revolving seats, tables and allowed 4 passengers to have their meal with each other as if they were in a restaurant. JAT’s DC10s were also equipped with earphones for each passenger, 10 music channels and films were screened in Serbo-Croatian and English.
The second JAT DC10 named Edvard Rusjan and marked YU-AMB arrived on May 16, 1979. Jat would operate with 4 DC10’s by the end of the 1980s. YU-AMB would later operate for Jat Airways until 2005 when it was finally decided to end its carrier in Nimes, France.
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