I had this thread languishing a bit too much lately but I can't help, the real life Japanese Kaibokans are driving me crazy
Even so this a truly atypical entry, I'm not making the usual history or ship entry for my fictional country. There are no propellers, pagoda masts or big guns. This time it's about engines and wings.
Long story short, I needed a break to shuffle the routine a bit, so I gave Koko an airline. Makes quite sense for a nation in the middle of the Pacific made up by even more islands than Japan.
Pardon me for the long blahblahblah between this preface and the actual drawings.
Koutei Koku - Emperor airlines:
The first incarnation of the Kokoan Flag carrier began in 1929 as Koutei Koku Yuso Kabushiki Kaisha (Emperor Air Transport Corporation). Named after the Emperor Archipelago on which Koko sat, the State-owned arline started domestic services with 5 Fokker Trimotors, later augmented by Nakajima Ki-6, Douglas DC-2, Nakajima Ki-34 and Lockheed-14 aircrafts. Despite a promising start -a few international routes were added since 1933-, scheduled civilian service ended in early 1942 soon after the start of the Pacific War, with military flights being operated on behalf of Imperial Japanese Airways until Koko uprisings put an end to them in early November 1945.
although never officially disbanded Koutei Koku had effectively ceased to exist by that time.
After the war, until early 1949, all civilian (other than military) aviaton in Koko was effectively banned under peace treaty clauses, with domestic and international services provided by PanAm, Northwest Orient and Hawaiian Airlines. Kokoan airspace was finally reopened to domestic operators by mid 1949. One of the companies that were founded by the end of the year was the state-owned Retto Kido (Archipelago Airways), which immediately became Koko's de-facto Flag carrier and successor of the pre-war Koutei Koku. Scheduled passenger service started in late 1949 with two second-hand Douglas DC-3 previously operated by PanAm. As the DC-3 fleet was augmented with the addition of extra airframes -Retto would own a total of 14, operating 13 at the same time by 1954- the douglas DC-4 joined the fleet in 1951 (10 in service by 1955), followed in 1954 by the DeHavilland-114 Heron (6 operational by 1957), which operated on northern routes that required sturdier aircrafts for rougher runways. At the time, the airline operated 24 aircrafts, all left bare-metal with the exception of the company logo -a silhouetted seagull inscribed in a circle- and name just aft of the cockpit windows.
Things changed in 1955 with the delivery of the first -of an order of 8- Douglas DC-6, which started the first international service operated by a Kokoan airline in 14 years. Retto Kido was rebranded as Koutei Koku (Emperor Airlines), thus regaining it's old name and all aircraft recieved red and blue cheatlines on the fuselage, the red and blue pattern was replicated on the lower half of the vertical stabilizers, with the top half beign red. The seagull logo remained near the cockpit bt was also replicated on the tail, and the name Koutei Koku was painted in kanji above the fuselage cheatlines. Further expansion came in 1959 with the introduction of the Douglas DC-7 (4 units) and Convair-440 (12 airframes by 1962). The first operated international service to San Francisco and Los Angeles (via-Honolulu), the latter augmented the Herons and DC-3s on domestic routes.
Koutei Koku entered the jet age in 1960 with the delivery of four Douglas DC-8-10 used on domestic routes between Toumachi, Kumoi, Hoshiguma and Taniguchi. DC-8-30 and C-8-50 for international services followed in 1961 and 1962 respectively, with Koutei Koku eventually operating 29 of them (9 -30s and 20 -50s) by 1968. 1961 also saw the introduction of the Fokker-27 on regional routes (29 in service by 1965), wich largely replaced the DC-3s, the Herons and even the DC-4s, wich by that time had been relegated to domestic service.
The year 1964 saw the delivery of the first Boeing 727-100, an event which had it's own degree of significance. Up to that time Retto/Koutei had been a loyal Douglas customer, owning all major aircraft produced by the American manufacturer from the DC-2 to the DC-8, now for the first time, it had chosen Boeing's 727 over the DC-9. The first sign of a shift that will materialize later. In 1966, to retire the last, antiquated and worn out DC-3s, the Japanese-manufactured NAMC YS-11 turboprop was introduced (28 will be in service by 1971). The DC-8-62 followed in 1968 (15 delivered by 1973) to further expand international routes.
In 1968, twenty years after having restarted operation, Koutei Koku had a fleet of 109 aircrafts and a higly developed internal and international network, with scheduled flights to Hawaii, the US west coast, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, New Zeealand, Chile and Argentina. However this vast expansion came with a cost. In it's early years the arline was literaly marred by accidents: eight planes where written off in accidents between 1952 and 1967, six of them resulting in passenger casualties. This culminated in 1968, when a 727 departing from Toumachi Airport failed to properly get airborne -the investigation revealed the crew had improperly set the plane for takeoff-, clipped the airport perimeter fence and slammed into the nearby residential neighborhood, killing all 114 on board and 44 on the ground. Resulting in what was the deadliest aircraft accident at the time.
As a consequence training methods and crew schedules were heavily revised in an effort to improve the arline safety record, All prop and turboprop aircrafts -with the exception of the NAMC YS-11- were retired in the next few years: if 61 out of 109 planes were propeller-driven in 1968, that number was down to 28 out of 111 in 1974. Then, in an unprecedent move, Koutei Koku was privatised in early 1970 adding the western denomination Emperor Airlines alongside the Japanese one in its official name. The livery was changed as well, with a simplified red and blue cheatline and a white tail with an enlarged blue seagull logo. The smaller seagull disappeared from the fuselage, and the kanji-written Koutei Koku was replaced by a western styled Emperor Airlines.
In 1969 the arline had added the Boeing 727-200 and 737-200 to its inventory (14 and 10 aircrafts respectively), preferring once again a Boeing product over the improved versions of the Douglas DC-9.
Koutei Koku then entered the age of mass-transport in late 1970 when the first widebody, a Boeing 747-100 joined the fleet, followed by another 6 machines by 1975. The huge aircrafts operated on high-density domestic routes, replacing most of the DC-8-10 and 727-100, wich were withdrawn from service during the same timeframe. Between 1971 and 1975 the airline also recieved 6 Boeing 747-200 to boost international routes (all DC-8-30 and some DC-8-50 were retired as a consequence). As the last act of this large fleet renewal, Koutei Koku ordered 24 McDonnell-Douglas DC-10-30 for international routes that had no need of the 747 capacity. The trijets were delivered between 1973 and 1978, and were the last aircrafts purchased by the Kokoan airline from that manufacturer.
After growing from 2 to 110 aircrafts in 20 years Koutei's fleet remained somewhat stable, bouncing between 106 and 118 machines until the mid 80's, mainly as the result of the 70's oil crisis and the introduction of the large-capacity widebody aircrafts. The 70's decade also saw the last two Koutei Kokou accidents that resulted in passenger fatalities: in 1973 a DC-8-50 crashed short of the runway while trying to land at Osaka Airport in bad weather, resulting in 52 fatalities (out of 126 on board). In 1977 a NAMC YS-11 suffered an engine failure during a flight between Hokuto and Mizushimo, one of the propellers disintegrated and a blade cut into the fuselage, killing 2.
In 1978, as the airline finances improved, 23 more boeing 747 were ordered. 10 BSR versions of the 747-100 specifically designed for domestic use, and 13 747-200 for international service (replacing all DC-8-50 still in service). 6 more 747-200, this time of the Freighter version, were ordered in 1979 for the newly enstablished koutei Cargo division.
In 1980 the airline recieved its first twin-engined widebody when the first Airbus A300 -out of an order of 22- was delivered late the same year. It was the first time Koutei Koku had ordered a non-US manufactured plane in 14 years, and the first overall for a jet-airliner. The A300 was perfectly suited to operate on thinner domestic routes and a much more economic plane to operate than a DC-10-10 or an L-1011. The satisfacion of the arline wth the Euroepan-built plane would later led Koutei Koku to order 34 A300-600 as soon as it made the first flight in 1983. This obviously did not meant that the airline was not happy with its 747s, as 20 747-300 were ordered and delivered between 1983 and 1991. 16 of them were of the long range version while 4 were of the -SR version for domestic service. The 747-300 replaced the last DC-8-62 that were still in service. Another old aicraft, the 727-200 was withdrawn from service in the late 80's replaced by 8 737-300, delivered between 1988 and 1991. The A300-600 previously ordered started to join the fleet in 1986.
During the late 80's Koutei Koku moved its headquarters to the newly built Ryujin International Airport. Ryujin replaced the now congested Toumachi Airport, which was completely surrounded by urbanizaiton and lacked available land for much needed expansion. Ryujin International, which handled 74milion passengers in 2015, is still Koutei Koku main Hub, as well as a Focus City for PanAm, which is the only carrier other than Koutei to boast 67 years of continous scheduled service at either Toumachi or Ryujin airport.
The early nineties saw the introduction of the Boeing 747-400 and it's domestic, high-capacity, sibling, the 747-400-D in 1990 and 1992 respectively. 18 units of the former were delivered by 1993 and 7 of the latter by 1995. The Airbus A320 joined the narrowbody fleet in 1991, with a total of 35 orders and deliveries lasting until 2005. Its larger sibling, the A321 joined the fleet in 1995, with 16 units delivered through 2002. In late 1995 the first Boeing 777-200 joined the fleet as well (from an order of 12, later expanded to 14 in 2004). The year 1995 also saw the first livery change since 1970, with the cheatline gone, replaced by the entire top-half of the airplanes painted blue, tail included. The seaugull on the vertical stablizer was made taller, while the fuselage showed the dual Emperor Airlines / Koutei Koku name, the latter written in kanji.
1995 also saw what was, to date, the last fatal accident involving a Koutei Koku airplane: a 747-200 Freighter bound for Anchorage was caught by severe weather shortly after takeoff, leading to the surge of n°4 engine. The aircraft attempted to return to Ryujin International Airport but encountered violent turbulence over Mount Yashima which caused the crew to lose control of the plane, which eventually broke up in flight.
As the decade progressed, the venerable NAMC YS-11 that still operated on regional routes on the northern islands started to leave the fleet in large numbers in 1996, with the last airframe retired in 2003, replaced by 4 Bombardier DHC-8-300 since 1997 and by 20 DCH-8-400 (later increased to 22) whose deliveries started in 2002. 6 Airbus A330-300 joined the fleet between 1996 and 1998, followed by 5 Boeing 777-300 (later increased to 7), both types operating on domestic routes. 8 more 747-400 joined the international fleet in 1998-2001. By that point, Koutei Koku's growth, which had led to a fleet of over 200 aircrafts by 1996 hit a lull caused by the Asian econimic crisis of 1996/1997 first and the decrease of air traffic following 9/11. This prompted another large fleet renewal: the older A300s were retired by 2005, the 737-200 in 2002, the 747-100 and the 747-sr in 2001 and 2005 respectively. The DC-10-30s were withdrawn from service by 2005, the passenger 747-200s followed in 2008, the 747-300-sr and all 747-200 freighters in 2009. 4 older 747-400 were also retired in 2008-2009, three of them converted into freighters.
During the same timeframe, newer and more fuel-efficent planes were added instead. In 2000 the first 777-200-er was delivered (eventually totaling 12 planes in two batches by 2013), the first 777-300-er joined in 2004 (now 17 are in service). The Airbus A319 saw 3 units beign delivered between 2001 and 2003, followed by another 16 units between 2005 and 2011. 15 Airbus A330-200 for long-haul routes were delivered in 2002-2006, followed by 17 A330-300 for domestic service in 2006-2014. 6 Boeing 747-400 freighters were purchased in 2004-2007 as a replacement of the retired 747-200. To expand medium-range thin routes too small for the A330, 777 or 747 capacity, Koutei Koku also ordered 40 Boeing 737-800, recieving them between 2007 and 2016.
The year 2008 saw the fourth livery change in Koutei Koku history. The blue on the fuselage was moved from the top half to the lower half, this time with a red cheatline going from the front of the vertical stabilizer to the nose of the plane. The seagull on the tail was made smaller, as a shilouhetted Mount Yashima was added below it. Finally, the dual name on the fuselage disappeared, leaving only a large billboard style Koutei written in western alphabet. A variant of this livery introduced in 2012 on newer cargo planes removed the blue underbelly, leaving only the tail and aft section not beign painted white.
A second wave of fleet renewal saw the retirement of the 747-300 in 2011, the A300-600, Boeing 737-300 and 747-400-D in 2013. In late 2011 the first Boeing 787-8 joined the fleet, the number increasing to 30 by 2016 when the last was delivered. The dreamliner replaced the A300-600 and was later augmented in 2014 by the 787-9, of which Koutei Koku has 48 ordered to replace the 777-200 and expand the international fleet as well. The cargo fleet was augmented by the delivery of 8 newer Boeing 747-8-F between 2012 and 2015, which offset the simultaneous retirement of 2 747-400-BCF. The airline also recieved, in 2013 and 2015, two Airbus A-330-200-F, which proved succesful enough to warrant an order for further 4 airfames to be delivered from 2017. Currently the last addition to the fleet has been the Boeing 747-8-Intercontinental. Having recieved the freighter a year before, Koutei Koku choose the last developement of the 747 over the A380 as its long-haul flagship.
For decades Koutei Koku has not owned a dedicated regional division but kept the turpoprops doing the job in it's mainline fleet. This changed in 2015 when, facing greater competition by low-cost carriers and other regional airlines, Koutei Koku announced the acqusition of Kita no Kokukaisha (Northern Airlines), a sizable but economically troubled regional airlines based in Miyabi. Kita operates a fleet of 35 aircrafts, all French/Italian ATR 42 and 72 models. The acquisition plan calls for Kita to be rebranded as Koutei Connection in 2017, repainting the ATR-72s in Koutei colors. All DHC-8-400 in Koutei mainline fleet will be transferred to Kita to replace the ATR-42s (the DHC-300 will be retired). 24 Japanese-built Mtsubishi MRJ-90 will eventually replace the ATR-72 starting in 2019.
As for the mainline fleet, Koutei Koku plans for expansion are not smaller either. Other than the 37 Boeing 787-9 still on backlog the airline has placed orders for 3 787-10 (with another 3 on option), 6 777-300-er and 29 777-9. The 787-10 order aims a replacing the 777-300s on domestic market, while the 777 orders will cover and augment the planned retirement of the 747-400, of which 14 out of 22 units are to leave service by 2020. 3 more 747-8-intercontinentals are on backlog, with 3 more options. There are also rumors that Koutei Koku might took over the four unsold airframes intended for the bankrupt Transaero. If with 78 firm orders Koutei Koku has made Boeing happy, Airbus had it's share as well, as the European manufacturer recieved orders for 88 planes (not counting the 4 for the 330Freighters): 10 A330-900Neo had been ordered to replace the 6 oldest A330-300 in the fleet. More so, the entire domestic short-haul narrowbody fleet will be replaced by 8 A319Neo, 25 A320Neo and 45 A321Neo, and it is possible that in the 2020s the 737-800 will too end up beign replaced by Airbus planes. The most suprising order, however, came for the replacement of the DHC-8 turpoprop that will be transferred to Koutei Connection. Aviation enthusiasts had long debated wether Koutei Koku would have placed an order for the Bombardier CS-100 or the Embraer E-190-E2, and both companies were reported having offered discounts and favourable deals to snatch the order from the rival. However, when Koutei Koku finally announced it's firm order it was from neither of the two. In early 2016 Koko's Flag carrier stuck a deal with Thiarian SCI for 30 machines -plus 30 options- of their Toscaire-300, with delivieries planned to start in the second quarter of 2017.
Currently, Koutei Koku operates a fleet of 286 mainline aircrafts, 17 freighters and 35 turboprops (under the subsidiary Kita). Depending on the interpretation, it is either the largest airline in Oceania or the fourth-largest in Asia (and the largest outside China). Koutei planes fly to 65 domestic and 112 international destinations in 53 countries.
Previously operated aircrafts:
DC-3 - 1949-1966
DC-4 - 1951-1963
dh-114 heron - 1954-1964
DC-7 - 1959-1970
cv-440 - 1959-1970
dc-8-10 - 1960-1972
dc-8-30 - 1961-1975
f-27 - 1961-1973
dc-8-50 - 1962-1983
b-727-100 - 1964-1976
Namcys-11 - 1966-2003
dc-8-62 - 1967-1989
b-727-200 - 1969-1989
b-737-200 - 1969-2002
b-747-100 - 1970-2001
b-747-200 - 1971-2008
dc-10-30 - 1973-2005
b-747-sr - 1978-2005
a-300-b4 - 1980-2005
b-747-300 - 1983-2011
a-300-600 - 1986-2013
b-737-300 - 1988-2013
b-747-300-sr - 1989-2009
b-747-400-d - 1992-2013
I might do an FD post of this someday