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  • Writer's pictureAvro Heritage Museum

ON THIS DAY: 24th June 1960

60 Years since the maiden flight of the Avro Type 748.

The second Avro 748, G-ARAY, performing rough landing trials on a ploughed field

Avro had designed the 748 in response to the government's cuts on the manufacturing of military aircraft in 1957, and moved into the civil market, in turn also offering a replacement for the soon to be phased out Douglas DC-3 airliner. The first Series One prototype (G-APZV) took flight on the 24th June 1960 from Woodford at the hands of Avro Test Pilot Tony Blackman. Further testing proved the wide range of capabilities of the airframe had and so a Series Two prototype (G-ARAY, known as ‘Gary’) was built. 

HS748 Production line at Chadderton, late 1970s

The first production run of eighteen Series 1A 748s were delivered to airlines from 1962, and a subsequent batch of the new improved Series 2 748s. In 1963, Avro was absorbed into Hawker Siddeley Aviation, and so the previously named Avro 748 became the Hawker Siddeley HS748. It was during this era that the Indian Aerospace company Hindustan Aero Limited (HAL) began to build the HS748 for the Indian Air Force and other local operators, giving those airframes the name HAL748.

G-BCDZ, the HS748 Coastguarder carrying the MAREC Radar system. The Coastguarder achieved no sales and eventually this airframe was reverted to a standard HS748

The 748 wasn’t just useful in its role as a medium regional airliner... It was developed into the Radar carrying, maritime reconnaissance aircraft name ‘Coastguarder’ however this saw limited success and achieved no sales, the airframe eventually was reverted to a standard 748. A Multi Role Cargo and Passenger Transport aircraft was also developed, designated ‘748MF’ (aka the HS780 and then later the Hawker Siddeley Andover) which operated with the RAF, NATO and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. The RAF were the last to operate the Andover, the final airframe withdrawn from service in 2015.

A Royal New Zealand Air Force HS780 Andover, developed from the HS748 Multi Role aircraft

As Hawker Siddeley Aviation was absorbed into British Aerospace as a part of the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Act in 1977, production of the Series 2B aircraft continued until 1988, when the last of 380 748 Airframes rolled off the production line. Even today a select number of HS748 airframes remain in active service in Africa and Canada, plus a number of the HAL748s in Indian service are soon to be modified with up to date instrumentation to serve for decades to come.

All was not lost for the HS748 lineage however, as in the early 1980s British Aerospace had developed the BAe Advanced Turboprop (ATP) based on the HS748. It was upgraded with PW126 engines rather than the now outdated Rolls Royce Dart Turboprop engines seen on the 748. It had modern instruments and flight systems, the fuselage was extended to accommodate more passengers, the nose was more refined, and the aircraft sat higher on its front undercarriage to be compatible with air bridges at commercial airports. 

G-MATP, the BAe ATP prototype on its first flight from Woodford in August 1986

A handful of preserved HS748 airframes and cockpits remain in existence today, one of which is our very own Series 2A cockpit G-ORAL, in her most recent Emerald Airways livery. She was built at Woodford and first flew in December 1977, delivered to Trinidad and Tobago for BWIA. It served later with Chieftain Airways, Scottish European and eventually Janes Aviation (which became Emerald Airways) being withdrawn from service in 2006 and scrapped in 2009 at Blackpool Airport.

Our preserved HS748 Srs2A, G-ORAL, sat in Vulcan Park behind the museum

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