Air Transport World

British Air Ferries prospers with Viscounts, new ownership.

Southend, England--The Vickers Viscount, the world's first turboprop airliner, the prototype of which made its maiden flight as long ago as 1948, is still very much alive and well and continuing to do great service with British Air Ferries, based at the municipal airport here to the east of London. At this writing, BAF has 14 Viscounts in service on scheduled and charter flights and is talking with Vickers' successor, British Aerospace, about a modification that would extend the aircraft's pressurized life indefinitely.

But the management of BAF is also aware that if is to impress potential investors as its seeks a flotation on the unlisted securities market--as it intends to do in the medium term--it will need to add newer types to its fleet. To that end it is evaluating various airplanes including the BAe ATP (advanced turboprop), the French-Italian ATR 42 and the proposed Shorts 450.

BAF traces its history back to early 1963 when the fleets and operations of Channel Air Bridge and Silver City Airways were merged as British United Air Ferries. Southend Airport was the base for the transport of motor cars by air, first in Bristol 170 freighters and later by Carvairs--heavily-modified DC-4s with nose doors and with the cockpit percehd on top of the fuselage. …

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