Courtesy of Speed of Flight

 In the 1960s, American Airlines approached Lockheed and competitor Douglas (later McDonnell Douglas) with the need for an airliner smaller than the 747, but still capable of carrying a large passenger load to distant locales such as London and Latin America from company hubs in Dallas/Ft Worth and New York. Lockheed had been largely absent from the civil airliner market since the late 1950s following problems with its L-188 Electra, which had suffered a number of crashes early in its career, however, having experienced difficulties with some of its military programs, Lockheed was eager to re-enter the civil market, and its response was the L-1011 TriStar. The aircraft was originally conceived as a "jumbo twin", but a three-engine design was ultimately chosen to give the plane enough thrust to take off from existing runways.

The design featured a twin-aisle interior with a maximum of 400 passengers, a three-engine layout, low noise emissions (in the early 1970s, Eastern Air Lines nicknamed the L-1011 "The WhisperLiner"), improved reliability, and efficient operation. The main visible difference between the TriStar and the DC-10 that emerged at Douglas is in the middle/tail engine; the DC-10's engine is mounted above the fuselage for more power and easier maintenance, while the TriStar's engine is integrated into the tail through an S-duct (similar to that of the Boeing 727) for improved quietness and stability.  A major differentiator between the L-1011 and the DC-10 was Lockheed's selection of the Rolls-Royce RB211 engine for the L-1011. As originally designed, the RB211 turbofan was an advanced three-spool design with a carbon fibre fan, which would have better efficiency and power-to-weight ratio than any competing design. This would make the L-1011 more efficient, a major selling point.

 Courtesy of Speed of Flight

American Airlines opted for the Douglas DC-10, although it had shown considerable interest in the L-1011. American's intent in doing so was to convince Douglas to lower its price for the DC-10, which it did.  Without the support of American, the TriStar was launched on orders from TWA and Eastern Air Lines. Although the TriStar's design schedule closely followed that of its competitor, Douglas beat Lockheed to market by a year due to delays in power pl

ant development. In February 1971, after massive development costs associated with the RB211, Rolls-Royce went into receivership.   This halted L-1011 final assembly and Lockheed investigated the possibility of a US engine supplier  One option presented would have been the potential outsource of the RB-211 production to Orenda,  but by then it was considered too late to change engine suppliers to either General Electric or Pratt & Whitney.

Manufactured in Lockheed facilities in Burbank and Palmdale, California, the TriStar faced brisk competition with the Boeing 747 and, even more directly, the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, which it closely resembled. Trans World Airlines heralded the TriStar as one of the safest airplanes in the world in some of its promotional literature in the 1980s when concern over the safety record of the DC-10, which was flown by most of its competitors, was at its peak.  446 DC-10s were sold compared to 250 TriStars, partly because of the TriStar's delayed introduction but particularly because a heavier, longer-range version was not initially offered. Under state control, costs at Rolls-Royce were tightly controlled, and the company's efforts largely went into the original TriStar engines, which had needed considerable modifications between the L-1011's first flight and service entry. The competition, notably General Electric, were very quick to develop their CF6 engine for more thrust, which meant that a heavier 'intercontinental' DC-10-30 could be mo

re quickly brought to the market. The flexibility afforded to potential customers by a long-range DC-10 quickly put the L-1011 at a serious disadvantage. Rolls-Royce went on to develop the high-thrust RB211-524 for the L-1011-200 and -500, but this took many years

FAA approval was granted to ferry the aircraft from Roswell, NM (ROW) to Kansas City, MO (MKC). The aircraft arrived safely on January 30, 2010, shortly after 3pm. This aircraft first flew in 1972 under the red and white colors of hometown airline TWA. Due to its large size, it is permanently parked south of the museum's hangar at Wheeler Airport with the large tail hanging beyond the fence line surrounding the downtown airport's apron.  The aircraft is currently being transformed into an educational facility to help promote interest in aviation among younger generations.