Boeing RC-1 "Brute Lifter"


Donald McKelvy
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14 August 2009
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The Boeing RC-1, for Resource Carrier 1, was a joint development project of Boeing and the Great Plains Project, a think tank created by the Canadian government under Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau to develop the country's Far North. Of particular interest was extracting oil, natural gas, and mineral ores from the Arctic Archipelago. The building of pipelines or roads between the frozen islands to transport these natural resources to an ice-free port or rail head was deemed unfeasible.

Planners envisioned round-the-clock operation of a fleet of 50 RC-1 resource carrier aircraft with each carrying 2.3 million pounds of cargo, such as 8,100 barrels of oil, in two wing-mounted detachable cargo pods. The system had to match the flow capacity of a 48-inch pipleline at comparable cost.

The aircraft would have been powered by 12 Pratt & Whitney JD9 turbofans for a cruise speed of 450 mph. 500 to 1,000 mile hauls were planned for the aircraft. Cargo would then be transported by ship or rail to southern markets. Wingspan was 478 feet, 87 feet tall, and the aircraft would ride on 56 wheels!
Because of its large size and cargo carrying capacity, the aircraft was nicknamed the "Brute Lifter" and "Flying Pipeline." Each aircraft was expected to cost $70 million.

Line drawings of this aircraft have appeared in other topics from sources such as Flight International and NASA technical reports

Artist's impression (top) of Boeing RC-1 resource carrier.

Line drawing (bottom) comparing the dimensions of the Boeing RC-1 to the Boeing 747.

Source: Wahl, Paul "What Has 56 Wheels and Flies? The World's Largest Aircraft" Popular Science October 1972


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What an amazing project! Everytime you think you've seen it all, there's always a more amazing and incredible project resurfacing!
Honestly I'd never heard about that one.
Stargazer2006 said:
What an amazing project! Everytime you think you've seen it all, there's always a more amazing and incredible project resurfacing!
Honestly I'd never heard about that one.

This isn't the first time that this design, or variants of it, have appeared on this forum.
pometablava and hesham have attached images of it. It has usually been identified generically as a Boeing span loader design. Flight International, in its November 1, 1973 issue, identified it as a crude oil carrier for Alaskan oil as part of a Boeing future forecast. I wonder if Boeing pitched the idea to the oil companies before the Trans Alaska Pipeline was built? Could you imagine a fleet of these aircraft operating from Prudhoe Bay in the north to Valdez in the south as part of the Alyeska Aerial Pipeline Company?

I was looking for something else on Google Books, but I recognized the design right away when I found the Popular Science article. I thought it was interesting that this concept generated serious interest from the Canadian government.

Additional images of the design, and variants, can be found at:



Hi Everyone!

Does anyone know where I might find either three-views or profiles of the Boeing RC-1 "Brute Lifter"?




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Just found this interesting thread. At the time the government think tank was pushing this in Canada, there were rumours within the aircraft industry that this was only done to make the risks of building Arctic pipelines look good in comparison to one of these crashing somewhere.
Press photo of Boeing Resource Carrier (RC)-1 concept, aka "Flying Pipeline", drawing/press release circa 1972 found on eBay.



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I've read that the RC-1 was considered economically feasible for bringing petroleum out of Prudhoe Bay until after the 1973 Energy Crisis caused fuel prices to spike. Of course the crude petroleum would rise in value as well, but I suppose it was more a shift in the economics in such a way that pushing for the Pipeline became a much more attractive option.
Here are the specs.

Specifications Data from Taylor, 1973
General characteristics
  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 338 ft (103 m)
  • Wingspan: 478 ft (146 m)
  • Height: 86 ft (26 m)
  • Wing area: 32,560 sq ft (3,025 m2)
  • Empty weight: 985,000 lb (446,788 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 3,550,000 lb (1,610,253 kg)
  • Cargo bay, four 26-foot diameter cylinders, 40+ feet long, designed to hold four standard cargo containers each
  • Powerplant: 12 × Pratt & Whitney JT9D turbofans, 45,000 lbf (200 kN) thrust each
  • Cruising speed: 460 mph; 741 km/h (400 kn)
  • Range: 1,000 mi (869 nmi; 1,609 km) Range is quoted with full load of cargo
Boeing Outsized transport

Hi all. I wonder if anyone can expand on the following information I have come across in an edition of Air International from January 1972, in regards to a proposal from Boeing for a transport to carry outsized loads. I attach the original text.


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Re: Boeing Outsized transport

1971 Boeing Resource Air Carrier (AKA RC-1, AKA “Brute Lifter”) designed as a flying oil tanker for the arctic.


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Re: Boeing Outsized transport

Thanks for that Flateric!
According to a 31 Oct 1973 article by Ray Dykes in Victoria, BC's Times Colonist newspaper, the RC-1 was primarily intended to transport natural gas. Crude oil was a secondary consideration ... as was cargo carrying.

Details came from Verne Atrill - then chairman of the Regina-based Great Plains Project think-tank - who was in Victoria to give a speech at the annual meeting of the Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC). A few quotes from that article:

"If the 18-month-long study to be made by the Boeing Co of Seattle finds the RC-1 feasible, Atrill predicted a fleet of 34 could move three billion cubic feet of gas a day 1,700 miles south — the equivalent of a 48-inch pipeline throughput."

"The Great Plains Project - a 'think-and do-tank group dedicated to exploring some of the unknowns about Canada’s future' — has under consideration three basic designs for the aircraft, which would carry about two million pounds of cargo with or without detachable wing-mounted pods."

"The Great Plains proposal would have the jets flying from King Christian Island or Melville Island, for example, to whatever southern terminals link up with more or less existing transmission facilities."

"Each aircraft would cost between $80 million and $110 million, according to Boeing estimates, but Atrill said he thought costs could be lowered considerably."

I love that last one. I mean, why trust estimates from those number-crunchers at Boeing when a think-tank guy from Regina can really tell you what's what? BTW, Dr. Atrill is a physicist and economist. In 1978, Atrill started Strategic Analysis in Toronto as an "economic research institute" focused on stock market stuff :rolleyes:

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