Last flight of the VFW-614
DC-3 Jet replacement
By Micheal Prophet
Last December the ATTAS (Advanced Technologies Testing Aircraft System) VFW 614 D-ADAM (construction number G-017) made its last flight ever and flew to its new home in the South of Germany.
The VFW-Fokker 614
The VFW-Fokker 614 (also VFW 614) is a twin-engined jetliner designed and built in West Germany. It was produced in small numbers by VFW-Fokker in the early- to mid-1970s. It was originally intended as a DC-3 replacement. Its most distinctive feature was that its engines were mounted in pods on pylons above the wing.
In 1968, the project was given the go-ahead, with 80 percent of the backing from the West German Government. Full scale production was approved in 1970, by which time VFW had merged with Fokker Aircraft (Holland) (a somewhat unhappy arrangement which lasted for only ten years). Also risk sharing agreements had been concluded with SIAT in Germany, Fairey and SABCA in Belgium and Shorts in the UK. Final assembly of the aircraft would be done in Bremen Germany.
The first of three prototypes G-01 D-BABA rolled out on the 5th April 1971 and made its first test flight on July 14, 1971. Meanwhile, the second prototype, G02, D-BABB, made its first flight on January 14, 1972.
Only three airlines companies (Touraine Air Transport – TAT, Air Alsace, Cimber Air) plus the Luftwaffe operated new VFW 614s. The aircraft was initially prone to engine problems, and it was too expensive for the small regional airlines, for which it was originally designed. Three aircraft were flown but never delivered, and four airframes were broken up before completion. The program was officially cancelled in December 1977 with 16 production machines and 3 prototypes produced.
The commercial service ended between 1979/1980 after which time all a/c were taken back by VFW-Fokker. The Luftwaffe did fly the longest time with its VFW 614s: until August 1998.
In 1999 three, ex-Luftwaffe VFW 614s were bought by West Air Sweden. They would have been taken into service by MUK-Air, Aeronet International, Scan Con Airways respectively of Denmark. Due to worldwide recession in the airfreight market this venture never materialized.
G-015 registered as D-ASAX, which had been stored for a long time at Lemwerder was modified during 1998/1999, as a test-bed for the then exiting DASA (Daimler Benz Aerospace GmbH). As ATD Aerospace Technologies Demonstrator this 614 was used for the testing of a new kind of fly-by-wire control system.
In 1985 the G-017, D-ADAM was pulled out of the mothballs by the DLR and modified to a flying laboratory plane called ATTAS (Advanced Technologies Testing Aircraft System.
She was retired at Braunschweig (BWE / EDVE) Germany, airport since March 2012 due to the lack of spare parts. On the 7th of December 2012 at 11:51 UTC the ATTAS VFW 614 D-ADAM lined up runway 08 at Braunschweig-Wolfsburg airport Germany and took off in the cold winter air for its final flight to the Deutsches Museum near the city of Munich. Some of the assembled DLR employees where present and waving her a goodbye. She landed safely at the Oberschleißheim 800 runway at 13:46 local time.
With thanks to: J.F. Homma, M. Zwartelé, R. Hopman and many others. Ber Beentjes F27 Friendship Association / Translation Oswald Zeijlstra (www.fokkerf27.nl) and Heino Rhoden & Uwe Bethke.
Postscript: This article we dedicate to our good friend Ber Beentjes who past away from cancer on the 23 June 2010 leaving his wife Fia and both daughters Esther & Ilse.
I first met Ber
I first met Ber at Fokker Aircraft engineering department at Schiphol Airport back in the summer of 1981, when I started at the Fokker F-28 design office as a junior interior designer on the Fokker F-28 program. Both being aviation enthusiast, we quickly became friends. At the time we shared and exchanged aviation magazine’s and articles. Soon after we both became involved in the start up of the Fokker 50 program and followed with the Fokker 100 project.
I remember one of our first aviation trips we made was to the 1985, 36th Paris Airshow at Le Bourget. I can’t remember but I think we travelled by train to Paris We where both propliner enthusiast and together with Jan Koppen (Oldjets moderator) we visited Frankfurt International airport (1985) for some plane spotting and viewing the old Lufthansa L-1049 Super Constellation at the car-park. Because this was a low-budget trip, Jan and I slept in the car, while Ber slept outside under a car-park bridge in his sleeping bag. During the years we made several trips chasing the old propliner and jets. I remember we visited Antwerp Airport for the arrival of the DDA Douglas DC-4 Skymaster from Africa. During 1996, together with Jan Koppen we visited the stored Eureka Aviation Caravelle 11R at Wevelgem Belgium we always ended up at Antwerp Airport for a cool beer. During the summer of 1997 Ber and I managed to fly onboard a Swiss Airlines DC-4 Skymaster at Luxemburg Airport and a year later we flew onboard the MATS C-121 Constellation from Holland to Antwerp….such was out hobby.
Fascination for the VFW-614
During the old Fokker days Ber started to develop a deep fascination for odd looking airplanes, one of them being the VFW-614 twin jet. He started to collect al he can about this strange aircraft…with the engines mounted on top of the wings. We used to have heated discussion and I would joke him about the strange looking VFW 614.
While working at Airbus Hamburg Ber and I where contemplating our next aviation assignment. He had arranged for us to photograph the D-ASDB a former Muk Air/West Air Sweden VFW 614 which was parked at Lufthansa Technik facility at Hamburg airport (April 2003). In 2005 Ber and I drove down to the 46th Paris Airshow in order to view the Airbus A380.
Ber and his family also moved to Hamburg working for Airbus. For a while we where both working on the same project sharing the same office space. We were working on the A350 project and I remember that on two occasions we had to visit the Toulouse engineering office and we would take the early morning A320 corporate shuttle from Airbus Finkenwerder airport.
Hamburg Air Show 2007
The last time we connected around the VFW 614 was during the 2007 Hamburg Airport Days. With the prospect of several DC-3s, DC-6s and a flying Lockheed Constellation, this event could not be missed. Jan and I travelled to the show and met up with Ber at the ATTAS VFW 614 D-ADAM which was on display. After the show it took off for its home and for me that was the last time I saw a VFW 614 in action. I always urged Ber to see if he could get a flight onboard this a/c knowing it would soon be phased out. But the opportunity never arrived.
He and his family had already relocated to Harsefeld a small town near Airbus Finkenwerder.
Last time Jan and I saw Ber was back in 31 March 2010 after he was taken ill, he past away a couple of months later on the 23rd Juny. So this last flight is dedicated to Ber.
Ber (left side) and Jan Koppen in the ATTAS VFW-614 during the Hamburg airshow