Convair CV-580 airliner/transport
Twin-engine low-wing tricycle-gear airliner, U.S.A.

Archive Photos 1

[1962 Convair CV-580 (N306G) at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum, Reading, PA (35mm photo by John Shupek)]

Overview 2

  • Convair CV-240 Family
  • Role: Airliner
  • Manufacturer: Convair
  • First flight: March 16, 1947
  • Introduction: February 29, 1948 with American Airlines
  • Primary user: American Airlines
  • Produced: 1947–1954
  • Number built: 1,181
  • Variants: Convair C-131 Samaritan; Canadair CC-109 Cosmopolitan

The Convair CV-240 is an American airliner that Convair manufactured from 1947 to 1954, initially as a possible replacement for the ubiquitous Douglas DC-3. Featuring a more modern design with cabin pressurization, the 240 series made some inroads as a commercial airliner, and had a long development cycle that produced various civil and military variants. Though reduced in numbers by attrition, various forms of the "Convair-Liners" continue to fly in the 21st century.

Design and Development 2

The design began with a requirement by American Airlines for an airliner to replace its Douglas DC-3s. Convair's original design, the unpressurized Model 110, was a twin-engine, low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction, with 30 seats. It was powered by Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engines. It had a tricycle landing gear, and a ventral airstair for passenger boarding. The prototype Model 110, registration NX90653, first flew on July 8, 1946. By this time, American Airlines had changed the requirements to include pressurization and deemed the design too small. Convair used the first prototype for 240 series development work before it had it broken up in 1947.

To meet the requirements of airlines for a pressurized airliner, Convair produced a revised design—the Model 240. This had a longer but thinner fuselage than the Model 110, accommodating 40 passengers in the first pressurized, twin-engined airliner. The 240 first flew on March 16, 1947.

The Model 240 was followed by the Model 340, which had a longer fuselage, longer-span wings, and more powerful engines. The 340 first flew on October 5, 1951. In 1954, in an attempt to compete with turboprop-powered airliners like the Vickers Viscount, Convair produced the Model 440 Metropolitan, with more streamlined cowlings, new engine exhausts, and better cabin soundproofing. As the "Super 240" evolved into the CV-340 and CV-440, the design reached the limit of piston-engine performance, and future development centered on conversion to turboprop power.

Operational History 2

Convair delivered the first production Convair-Liner to American on February 29, 1948. They delivered a total of 75 to American—and another 50 to Western Airlines, Continental Airlines, Pan American Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Swissair, Sabena, and Trans Australia Airlines.

A CV-240 was the first private aircraft used in a United States presidential campaign. In 1960, John F. Kennedy used a CV-240 named Caroline (after his daughter) during his campaign. This aircraft is now preserved in the National Air and Space Museum.

After aborted negotiations with TWA and Eastern for "Super 240" orders, Convair temporarily halted 240 series production. In response to a United inquiry, Convair redesigned the Super 240, calling it the CV-340. United ordered 55, and more US orders came from Braniff, Continental, Delta, Northeast, and National. Other orders came from abroad, and the CV-340 was popular in South America. The CV-340 earned a reputation for reliability and profitability, and was developed into the CV-440 Metropolitan, the final piston-engined variant of the Convair-Liners.

Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter, the major remaining operator of this model, currently holds the type certificate for this aircraft.

Used price for a Convair 240 in 1960 was around $52,000 US.

Variants 2

Civil Variants

  • Convair Model 110: Unpressurized prototype with seats for 30 passengers. 89 ft (27.13 m) wingspan, 71 ft (21.64 m) length, powered by two 2,100 hp (1,567 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-SC13G engines. One built.
  • Convair CV-240: Initial production version, with seats for 40 passengers in a pressurised fuselage. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney 2,400 kW (3,200 hp) R-2800 engines. 176 built (excluding military derivatives.
  • Convair CV-240-21 Turboliner: Turboprop-powered conversion fitted with Allison T38 engines. It became the first turboprop airliner to fly in the United States (on December 29, 1950), but problems with the engines resulted in development being terminated. Used as a test bed before being converted back to piston power.
  • Convair CV-300: A conversion from a Convair CV-240 with two R-2800 CB-17 engines and nacelles as used on the CV-340.
  • Convair CV-340: Built for United Airlines and other operators including KLM, the CV-340 was a CV-240 lengthened to hold an additional four seats. The wingspan was extended for better performance at higher altitudes. The CV-340 replaced the DC-3 in United service. The airline flew 52 340s for 16 years without a fatality. KLM operated the type from early 1953 until mid-1963. Many CV-340 aircraft were converted to CV-440 standard.
  • Convair CV-440 Metropolitan: CV-340 with improved soundproofing and an option for weather radar. Maximum weight rose to 49,700 lbs. An optional increase from 44 to 52 passengers was facilitated by the replacement of the carry-on luggage area with two more rows of seats, marked by the addition of an extra cabin window. This option was taken up by several airlines including Swissair, Lufthansa and SAS. Finnair operated the type from 1953 until 1980 without a single accident.
  • Convair CV-540: Conversion from a Convair CV-340 aircraft with two Napier Eland turboprop engines in place of the piston engines. Six aircraft were converted by Napier for Allegheny Airlines. Cost for the conversions was S208,000 per-aircraft. 12 built as new-builds by Canadair for RCAF as CC-109 in 1960 for $567,000 per-aircraft. First flight February 9, 1955. When Rolls Royce purchased Napier, the Eland program was terminated, and the Allegheny aircraft were converted back to piston power, but were later converted to Convair 580s with Allison turbo props.
  • Convair CV-580: Conversion from Convair CV-340 (Allison Prop-Jet Convair 340) or CV-440 aircraft with two Allison 501 D13D/H turboprop engines with four-blade propellers, in place of piston engines with three-blade propellers, an enlarged vertical fin and modified horizontal stabilizers. The conversions were performed by Pacific Airmotive on behalf of the Allison Engine Company. Cost of the conversions was around $228,000 per aircraft and took 60 days. The CV-580 served with the original Frontier Airlines (1950-1986), Allegheny Airlines, and North Central Airlines for many years and was also the first aircraft type operated by American Eagle on behalf of American Airlines in code sharing feeder service.
  • Convair CV-580 Airtanker: Firefighting airtanker conversions with retardant tanks and dropping systems.
  • Convair CV-600: Conversion from a Convair 240 aircraft with Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engines with four-blade propellers, in place of piston engines with three-blade propellers. CV-600 conversions were performed by Convair. The CV-600 first flew with Central Airlines on 30 November 1965 and also served with Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) and successor Texas International Airlines for many years. The CV-600 aircraft that flew with Air Metro Airways was configured as a 40-passenger airliner. In 2012 the last Convair CV-600 (Rhoades Aviation) went out of service.
  • Convair CV-640: Conversion from a Convair CV-340 or -440 with Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engines with four-blade propellers, in place of piston engines with three-blade propellers. The conversions were performed by Convair. In 2012, a total of seven Convair CV-640 aircraft remained in airline service, with Rhoades Aviation (one) and C&M Airways (six).
  • Convair CV-5800: KF Cargo Convair CV-5800; Conversion from former US Navy C-131F Samaritans by Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd. (KF Aerospace since 2015) in Canada. The CV-5800 is a C-131F Samaritan stretched by 16 ft 7 in (4,98 m) with the Samaritan's original tail unit rather than the enlarged tail of the CV-580. These conversions also have a new freight door, digital avionics with EFIS and Allison 501-D22G engines in place of the original R-2800 engines. The prototype of this conversion first flew on February 11, 1992; the type certificate was issued on December 11, 1993. A total of six aircraft were converted (construction numbers 276 to 279, 309, 343) and mostly used by Contract Air Cargo (later IFL Group); one aircraft later operated by Air Freight NZ was then returned to KF Aerospace for operation in their own fleet.
  • Allison Turbine ATF 580S Turbo Flagship: Stretched Convair-Liner conversion.

Military Variants

  • Convair C-131 Samaritan: The CV-240/340/440 series was used by the United States Air Force for medical evacuation and VIP under this designation
  • Convair T-29 trainer: A trainer model of the C-131 was used to instruct navigators and radio operators
  • Convair R4Y Samaritan: The United States Navy used the Samaritan under this designation
  • Canadair CC-109 Cosmopolitan: Conversion from CV-440, with Napier Eland turboprops in place of the piston engines. The conversions were performed in Canada by Canadair. In Royal Canadian Air Force and later in Canadian Armed Forces service they were known as the CC-109 Cosmopolitan. All were re-engined in 1966 with Allison 501-D13 engines.
  • Canadair CL-66: Company designation for the CC-109 Eland powered variant

Operators 2

Civil Operators


  • Air Algerie – CV-640
  • Ethiopian Air Lines –CV-240
  • Kardair (Libya) – CV-440
  • Titan Helicopter Group (South Africa)– 3 CV 580
  • Regional Air (South Africa – 2 CV 580)
  • Rovos Air (South Africa – CV-340)


  • Air Jordan - CV-240.
  • Air Maldives - CV-440
  • All Nippon Airways - CV-440.
  • Central Air Transport Co. (CATC), Chinese airlines has 6 CV-240, with codes (XT-600, XT-602, XT-604, XT-606, XT-608 and XT-610), they were used on "Hong Kong - Canton", "Shanghai - Hong Kong - Bangkok" in early 1949.
  • Garuda Indonesia - CV-240, CV-340 & CV-440
  • Iran Air - CV-240
  • Japan Domestic Airlines - CV-240
  • Orient Airways CV-240
  • Pakistan International Airlines - CV-240
  • Philippine Airlines - CV-340 (1950s–1960s)
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines - CV-340
  • Toa Airways


  • Air Chathams - CV-580 (current operator)
  • Air Fiji - CV-580
  • Air Freight NZ - CV-580 & CV-5800
  • Airlines of New South Wales - CV-440.
  • Airlines of South Australia - CV-440.
  • Ansett Airlines - CV-340, CV-440 (some were formerly operated by Braniff International Airways)
  • Chathams Pacific - CV-580
  • Pionair - CV-580
  • Real Tonga - CV-580
  • Trans Australia Airlines - CV-240


  • A Karair Convair Metropolitan (OH-VKN) after a mishap in landing in 1963, at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
  • Aviaco - CV-440.
  • Alitalia - Linee Aeree Italiane - CV-240, CV-340 & CV-440.
  • Condor (& predecessor Deutsche Flugdienst) - CV-240 & CV-440.
  • Delta Air Transport - CV-440
  • European Air Transport - CV-580
  • Finnair CV-340(converted to CV-440) & CV-440
  • Fred Olsen Air Transport - CV-340
  • General Air (Germany) - CV-440
  • JAT Yugoslav Airlines - CV-340 & CV-440
  • Iberia Airlines - Convair CV-440.
  • Kar-Air CV-440
  • KLM - CV-240 & CV-340
  • Linjeflyg - CV-340 & CV-440
  • LOT Polish Airlines - CV-240 (5 in 1957–1966)
  • Lufthansa - CV-340 & CV-440
  • Martinair - CV-640
  • Mey-Air - CV-240
  • Nor-Fly Charter - CV-440 & CV-580
  • Pan Adria CV-440
  • Partnair - CV-580
  • Polaris Air Transport - CV-240
  • SABENA - CV-240 & CV-440
  • SAS - CV-440
  • SATA, SA de Transport Aérien - CV-440 & CV-640
  • Stellar Airfreighter (Norway) - CV-440
  • Swiftair - CV-580
  • Swissair - CV-240 & CV-440
  • Tellair - CV-440

United States and Canada

  • Air Mid-America - CV-600
  • Air New England - CV-580
  • Air Ontario - CV-580
  • Air Rajneesh - CV-440
  • Air Resorts - CV-440
  • Air Tahoma - CV-240 & CV-580
  • Allegheny Airlines - CV-340, CV-440, CV-540 & CV-580
  • Alaska Airlines - CV-240
  • American Airlines - CV-240.
  • American Eagle - See Metro Airlines
  • American Inter-Island - CV-440 (wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines, which operated flights between San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Croix in the Caribbean)
  • Aspen Airways - CV-240, CV-440 & CV-580
  • Atlantic Gulf Airlines - CV-580
  • Bar Harbor Airlines - CV-600
  • Braniff International Airways - CV-340 & CV-440.
  • Buffalo Airways - CV-240 bought for its engines, not put in service
  • Cal Sierra Airlines - CV-580
  • Canadian Pacific Airlines - CV-240.
  • Caribair (Puerto Rico) - CV-340, CV-440 & CV-640
  • Central Airlines - CV-240 & CV-600
  • Charter Airlines - CV-580
  • Cochise Airlines - CV-440
  • Conair Group - CV-580
  • Continental Airlines - CV-240 & CV-340
  • Continental Express - CV-580 (operated by Trans-Colorado Airlines)
  • Cordova Airlines - CV-240 (acquired by and merged into Alaska Airlines)
  • Delta Air Lines - CV-340 & CV-440
  • Desert Air - CV-240
  • Eastern Air Lines - CV-440
  • Era Aviation - CV-580
  • Executive Airlines - CV-440
  • Freedom Airlines - CV-580
  • Frontier Airlines (1950-1986) - CV-240, CV-340, CV-440, CV-580 & CV-600 (CV-600 aircraft formerly operated by Central Airlines)
  • Great Lakes Airlines (Canada) - CV-440 & CV-580
  • Gulf Air Transport - CV-340, CV-440 & CV-580 (U.S. charter air carrier. CV-580 aircraft were formerly operated by North Central and Republic.)
  • Harrison Airways (Canada) - CV-440
  • Hawaiian Airlines - CV-340, CV-440 & CV-640
  • IFL Group - CV-580 & CV-5800
  • Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter (KF Aerospace) - CV-580 & CV-5800
  • Kitty Hawk Aircargo - Convair CV-240, CV-340, CV-440, CV-600 and CV-640
  • L&J Company of Addison, Texas - CV-240 (aircraft tragically crashed with the band Lynyrd Skynyrd on board)
  • Lake Central Airlines - CV-340 & CV-580
  • Laredo Air - CV-580
  • Mackey Airlines (also known as Mackey International) - CV 440 & CV 580
  • Metro Airlines (via its wholly owned Metroflight division) - CV-580 (former Frontier Airlines aircraft that were operated for American Eagle via agreement with American Airlines)
  • Miami Air Lease - CV-440
  • Midwest Air Charter/Airborne Express - CV-600
  • Mohawk Airlines - CV-240 & CV-440
  • National Airlines - CV-340 & CV-440
  • Nolinor Aviation - CV-580
  • Norcanair - CV-580 & CV-640
  • Nordair (Nordair Metro division) - CV-580
  • North Central Airlines - CV-580
  • Northeast Airlines - CV-240
  • Northwest Airlines - CV-580 (former Republic Airlines aircraft that were previously operated by North Central Airlines)
  • Pacific Western Airlines - CV-640
  • Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) - CV-240 & CV-340
  • Powell Air - CV-440
  • Quebecair - CV-540 (CL-66)
  • Renown Aviation - CV-440 & CV-580
  • Republic Airlines - CV-580 (formerly operated by North Central Airlines)
  • Resort Air Commuter - CV-580
  • Rhoades Aviation - CV-640
  • Sea Airmotive - CV-340, CV-440 & CV-580
  • Sierra Pacific Airlines - CV-340, CV-440 & CV-580
  • Skyfreighters - CV-440
  • SMB Stage Lines - CV-600 & CV-640
  • Summit Airlines - CV-580
  • Sun Valley Key Airlines - CV-440 (U.S. commuter air carrier previously known as Sun Valley Airlines, which operated out of Salt Lake City, UT and Sun Valley, ID, and then changed its name back to Key Airlines)
  • Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) - CV-240 & CV-600
  • Texas International Airlines - CV-600 (former Trans-Texas Airways aircraft)
  • Time Air - CV-580 & CV-640 (former Norcan Air and North Caribou, also one previously owned by Domino's Pizza)
  • Trans-Colorado Airlines - CV-580 (aircraft painted in the livery of Continental Express)
  • United Airlines - CV-340 & CV-580 (CV-580 aircraft operated via wet lease contract by Frontier Airlines (1950-1986) as the replacement for former United Douglas DC-6 service to Elko, NV and Ely, NV)
  • Viking International Airlines - CV-600 & CV-640
  • Westates Airlines - CV-580
  • Western Airlines - CV-240
  • Wright Airlines - CV-440, CV-600 & CV-640
  • Zantop International Airlines - Convair 640

Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America

  • Aero California - CV-340
  • Aerocaribe - CV-340 & CV-440
  • Aerolíneas Argentinas - CV-240
  • Aerolineas Colonia (Uruguay) - CV-240
  • Aeromexico - CV-340
  • Aeroquetzal - CV-580
  • ALM Antillean Airlines - CV-340 & CV-440
  • ARCO Aerolíneas Colonia S.A. (Uruguay) - CV-240, CV-600
  • Avensa - CV-240, CV-340, CV-580.
  • Aviateca - CV-240, CV-340 & CV-440
  • Caribair (Puerto Rico) - see North America
  • Chilean Airways - CV-580
  • COPA Compañia Panameña de Aviación - CV-340
  • Cruzeiro do Sul - CV-240, CV-340 & CV-440
  • LACSA - CV-440
  • Líneas Aéreas Paraguayas (LAP) - 3 CV-240
  • LAN Chile - CV-440
  • Prinair - CV-580
  • Real Transportes Aéreos - CV-340 & CV-440
  • SAHSA - CV-580
  • Transportes Aéreos Nacional - CV-440
  • VARIG - CV-240, CV-340 & CV-440

Military operators

  • Australia: Royal Australian Air Force - Two CV-440 Metropolitans (RAAF serial A95-313 and 353) were in service with RAAF from 1956 to 1968.
  • Bolivia: Transporte Aéreo Militar - Six CV-440s and five CV-580s acquired. One of each remaining as of 1987.
  • Canada: Royal Canadian Air Force and Canadian Armed Forces CV-540s were re engined with T56 turbo props with 412 Squadron
  • Colombia: CV-580
  • Germany: Luftwaffe operated six CV-440s.
  • Italy: Italian Air Force operated four CV-440 Metropolitans from 1957 until 1978
  • Paraguay: Paraguayan Air Force: CV-440/C-131D
  • Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka Air Force - CV-440
  • Mexico: Mexican Air Force CV-580 Nowadays used as an AEW&C Simulator on AFB #1 Santa Lucia

Other Operators

  • United States: CAAC Airlines; Airborne Resources, (C-131B N131CR); Environmental Research Institute of Michigan, later Veridian and then General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems (CV-580s N51211) and N51255); Honeywell International, Everett Washington (CV-580 N580HW); Raytheon, Tucson Arizona (CV-580 N580HH); University of Washington, (CV-580 N3UW)
  • Canada: National Research Council (Canada) (CV-580 C-FNRC); Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, later Environment Canada, retired to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in June 2015 in recognition of its historical significance to Canadian science (CV-580 C-GRSC)

Convair CV-580 Specifications 3

General Characteristics

  • Crew: 2-3
  • Passengers: 44-56
  • Length: 81 ft 6 in
  • Wing Span: 105 ft 4 in
  • Wing area: 920 ft2
  • Height: 28 ft 2 in
  • Gross Weight: 53,200 - 58,156 lb
  • Power Plant: 2 × Allison 501-D or D13H propeller-turbines.
  • Fuel Capacity: 1,730 - 2,908 US gal


  • Maximum speed: 360 mph at 10,000 ft
  • Cruising speed: 325 mph at 10,000 ft
  • Initial climb rate: 3,400 ft/min
  • Range: 2,866 miles
  • Service Ceiling: 24,900 ft


  1. Shupek, John. The Skytamer Photo Archive, photos by John Shupek, copyright © 2000 Skytamer Images (
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Convair CV-240 family
  3. Wegg, John (1990). General Dynamics Aircraft and their Predecessors, Putnam Aeronautical Books, London, England. ISBN 0-87021-233-8.

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