Dan-Air commenced operations in the United Kingdom in 1953 with a Douglas DC-3 Dakota. It was from conception until the cessation of operations, a subsidiary of Davies and Newman, a ship broking company established in the City of London in 1922, from whose initials the airline derived its name. The company was incorporated on 21 May 1953 as Dan Air Services Ltd. Dan Air operated inclusive tour (IT) holiday charter flights, regional short-haul scheduled services, transatlantic and other worldwide affinity group/Advanced Booking Charters (ABC flights), oil industry support flights and ad-hoc operations including all-cargo services from London Gatwick, other British airports and Tegel Airport in West Berlin.
Dan Air operated the world's largest fleet of De Havilland Comets and became the last airline in the world to operate them. Dan-Air built a 49-strong Comet fleet - the world's largest - between 1966 and 1976. It retired the last example in 1980. Not all of these airframes saw actual airline service; some had exclusively been acquired for spares. The Comets commanded a lower price than comparable second hand jets. They were relatively unused as many previous operators had replaced them with the larger and more economical Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 after only a few years. The airframes had many years of service left and cost a fraction of the similarly sized BAC One-Eleven 500 or Boeing 737-200, which were still scarce second hand. It let the airline replace most of its piston airliners such as the Avro York, the Bristol 170 Freighter and the Airspeed AS 57 Ambassador, which had reached or were nearing the end of their lives, relatively cheaply. Dan-Air was also the last commercial airline operator of the Airspeed AS 57 Ambassador. A small number of this high-winged twin-engine aeroplane survived in the fleet into the jet era. The last retired in September 1971 after its final Jersey-Gatwick scheduled service. The introduction of the first of three former Japan Airlines Boeing 727-100 series on April 13, 1973 made Dan-Air first British operator of the Boeing trijet, at the time the world's best-selling commercial jetliner.Dan-Air's original eight Boeing 727-100s, which entered service between 1973 and 1978, differed from overseas-registered aircraft. Dan-Air examples had additional emergency doors each side of the rear fuselage as well as a stall-protection system known as a stick pusher. The former was necessitated by the requirement to have the aircraft certificated at an increased capacity of 150. The additional emergency exits were required to meet the CAA's rule requiring all passengers to leave within 90 seconds by using only half the exits. The CAA mandated the latter in the light of experience with UK-registered T-tailed jets - chiefly an incident involving a Northeast Airlines Hawker Siddeley Trident. This stall-protection system consisted of a stick pusher, a nudger and an independent shaker for each pilot. It activated when the aircraft was in danger of stalling by shaking the control columns and correcting attitude and altitude to increase velocity. Installing stall-protection cost Dan-Air US$1m per aircraft.
As well as the Comets and 727s, Dan-Air mainly operated BAC One-Elevens and Hawker Siddeley 748s during its most successful period in the 1970s and 1980s.
In May 1983 Dan-Air became the first to put the four-engine BAe 146 regional jetliner into commercial service.
The aircraft types below formed part of Dan-Air's fleet at one point or another in the 39-year history:
Airbus A300 B4
BAC One-Eleven 200/300/400/500 series
Boeing 727-100/200 Advanced
Boeing 737-200 Advanced/300/400
De Havilland Comet series 4/4B/4C
De Havilland Dove
De Havilland Heron
Hawker Siddeley 748 series 1/2
Piper PA-23 Apache
Vickers Viscount series 700/800.
Attaining commercial success
Dan-Air's acquisition of three Avro Yorks in 1954 resulted in establishment of Dan-Air Engineering as a sister company at Lasham, a disused war-time airfield in Hampshire, to service its fleet as well as other operators. Dan-Air transferred its main base to Gatwick in 1960 when Blackbushe closed to commercial airlines. In 1967 Dan-Air introduced its first pair of ex-BOAC De Havilland Comet series 4 aircraft, which made it the second independent British airline to start uninterrupted pure jet operations after British United Airways. This marked the beginning of sustained, steady and mostly profitable expansion. By the end of the 1960s, Dan-Air was Gatwick's third biggest resident operator after British United Airways and Caledonian Airways.Dan-Air's parent, Davies and Newman Holdings, became a publicly listed security when it was floated on the London Stock Exchange in late 1971. The group was capitalised at £5m at its stock market debut. This provided the funds to expand its charter business and build a network of regional scheduled services between secondary airports across Europe with particular emphasis on the United Kingdom and Ireland, entering the transatlantic affinity group/ABC market and establishing itself as leading fixed wing operator of oil-industry support flights. It let the airline expand its fleet, leading to introduction of the One-Eleven, Boeing 707, Hawker Siddeley 748, Boeing 727, Boeing 737, BAe 146 and, eventually, the Airbus A300. In 1972 Dan-Air co-founded Gatwick Handling, a Gatwick-based agent that has become part of the Aviance group, with Laker Airways. Each owned 50% at its inception.By the mid 1970s Dan-Air had become the second biggest resident operator at Gatwick after British Caledonian. From then on Dan-Air operated the largest of the UK independent airlines' fleets as well as Britain's largest charter fleet. Dan-Air was second only to British Airways in fleet size. Dan-Air had more than 50 aircraft, employed about 3,000 and by the end of the 1980s carried 6m passengers annually, almost one-third on scheduled services.Dan-Air marked the 1980s with a corporate makeover. The first stage entailed a new fleet-wide livery. One Boeing 727-100, the airline's first pair of stretched Boeing 727-200 Advanced and its first Boeing 737-200 Advanced were first to appear in the new livery. The second stage gave the fleet widebody look interiors as each aircraft underwent maintenance. The final stage changed stationery, ticket wallets, timetable covers, airport signs and baggage tags as well its logo in advertisements and PR campaigns.When British Airways merged British Caledonian into it's own operation, Dan-Air had become Gatwick's second-largest slot holder, accounting for 16% of slots. Dan-Air provided the chairman of the Gatwick Scheduling Committee while British Caledonian, Gatwick's largest slot holder, provided the [slot] co-ordinator.
Dan-Air's first overseas expansion occurred during the Cold War in 1968 when Frank Tapling, the sales director, visited German tour operators to increase utilisation of the growing Comet fleet and take advantage of the fact that all airlines other than those headquartered in the US, the UK and France were banned from West Berlin. Operating out of West Berlin let Dan-Air redeploy capacity left surplus in the UK due to exchange controls which limited passengers to £50 a trip, and to obtain better rates than in the oversupplied UK charter market.March 31, 1968 marked the beginning of Dan-Air's association with Tegel which lasted 25 years. On that day, a Comet 4 left the airport for Malaga, the first of almost 300 IT flights under contract to a West German tour operator. Dan-Air established its first overseas base at Tegel in 1969. Up to five aircraft were stationed there over two decades. These initially comprised Comets, One-Elevens, Boeing 707s and Boeing 727s. They were later replaced with Boeing 737s, Hawker Siddeley 748s and BAe 146s. The Berlin fleet operated charters under contract to tour operators as well as scheduled services to Amsterdam and Saarbrücken. Gatwick aircraft and crew operated most regular charter flights as well as all scheduled services linking Berlin with Gatwick. At its peak during the late 1970s and early 1980s Berlin was staffed by 170, mainly local, employees and handled more than 300,000 passengers annually.Dan-Air's Berlin 727s had additional fuselage fuel tanks to fly non-stop to the Canary Islands with a full payload. At 2,200 miles the distance between Berlin and Las Palmas was greater than the shortest transatlantic crossing between Shannon in western Ireland and Gander in eastern Canada. The five-hour flight was the limit of the 727's economically viable non-stop range.Dan-Air operated the first commercial flight to Tegel's new terminal building on November 1, 1974 at 6am with a One-Eleven inbound from Tenerife.
Scheduled service developments
Dan-Air operated its first seasonal scheduled service during summer 1956 between Blackbushe and Jersey. It operated its first year-round scheduled service in 1960. This linked Bristol and Cardiff with Liverpool. It was operated with a pair of De Havilland Doves, soon replaced with larger DC-3s. This was extended from Bristol to Plymouth. The route pattern became the foundation of the Link City network, linking the UK's Southwest with the Northeast via stops at the commercial centres of the Midlands and the Northwest. DC-3s continued plying all domestic Link City scheduled routes for the first ten years.1960 was the year Dan-Air launched its first international scheduled route linking Bristol and Cardiff with Basle. Further international scheduled services from Liverpool to Rotterdam, Bristol to Basle via Bournemouth as well as from Bristol and Gatwick to Ostend followed during the early 1960s. These were operated with DC-3 and Airspeed Ambassadors.
Dan-Air's acquisition of Scottish Airlines and Skyways International in 1961 and 1972 enlarged the scheduled operation. The former brought additional Avro Yorks and a seasonal route linking Prestwick with the Isle of Man. The latter resulted in four additional HS 748s and year-round services linking Bournemouth with Jersey and Guernsey, as well as seasonal flights linking Gatwick with Clermont-Ferrand and Montpellier. These aircraft let the airline expand Link City by adding Bournemouth and reorganising the structure by introducing Bournemouth-Birmingham-Liverpool/Manchester-Newcastle and Luton-Leeds/Bradford-Glasgow, in April 1972. Schedules offered same-day-returns Monday to Friday. These ex-Skyways HS 748s enabled Dan-Air to open a seasonal Gatwick-Berne route in June 1972, the first direct scheduled air link. The acquisition resulted in the HS 748 becoming the main scheduled aircraft for the next ten years. These replaced the Nord 262 Dan-Air had acquired from Air Ceylon in 1970 as a DC-3 replacement to operate Bristol-Cardiff-Liverpool-Newcastle. In addition, Skyways had brought a scheduled route linking Ashford (Lympne) in Kent with Beauvais. This formed part of a London-Paris coach-air service, which Skyways pioneered in 1955 with DC-3s. Dan-Air continued this service until the 1980s. In 1974 services moved to Lydd when Ashford closed. 748s, One-Elevens and Vickers Viscounts leased from other operators operated these services. In 1973 Dan-Air added Teesside as a stop to Link City and inaugurated scheduled service between Teesside and Amsterdam.In 1974 Dan-Air began replacing the 748 with Comets on its seasonal, scheduled services between Gatwick, Clermont-Ferrand and Montpellier, as well as on its year-round Luton-Leeds-Glasgow schedule, the first time the airline had used jets on scheduled services. The turboprop capacity released enabled re-introduction of scheduled services between Bristol, Cardiff and Amsterdam, as well as the launch of direct scheduled services between Newcastle and the Isle of Man. During April that year Dan-Air launched a year-round, same-day-return Gatwick-Newcastle jet schedule, the airline's first UK mainland domestic feeder route from Gatwick. This twice-daily service, promoted with British Caledonian, initially utilised Comet 4Bs. From November 1974 BAC One-Eleven 300/400s replaced Comets on one of the rotations.In 1975 Dan-Air commenced a year-round scheduled service between Newcastle and Bergen, as well as two new, seasonal scheduled routes linking the Isle of Man with Aberdeen and Gatwick. The latter was the first non-stop scheduled air service between Gatwick and the Isle of Man. 1975 was also the year the airline converted its seasonal Gatwick-Berne scheduled service into a year-round operation. During that year the company extended its seasonal scheduled service between Gatwick and Clermont-Ferrand to Perpignan, and introduced One-Eleven jets on its seasonal, Gatwick-Jersey schedule. 1975 also saw the acquisition of two former Zambia Airways One-Eleven 200s, the first time the firm had acquired jets to be exclusively operated on scheduled services. One aircraft was based at Gatwick, the other at Newcastle. Manchester became the sole stop in the Northwest on Link City. In 1976 Dan-Air commenced a year-round scheduled service between Newcastle and Stavanger.In 1977 Dan-Air launched a scheduled route from Gatwick to Strasbourg.1978, Dan-Air's silver jubilee, saw the launch of a scheduled service linking Gatwick with Bergen. In November 1979 Dan-Air replaced British Airways as scheduled carrier between Gatwick and Aberdeen, a feeder route for the oil industry. 1979 also saw the launch of a Gatwick-Toulouse scheduled service.April 1980 saw Dan-Air take over British Airways' loss-making regional services from Bristol, Cardiff and Newcastle to Belfast and Dublin, as well as from Bristol and Cardiff to Jersey, Guernsey and Paris Charles de Gaulle, and from Leeds/Bradford to Guernsey.
In 1981 Dan-Air launch a scheduled route linking Gatwick with Cork, its first scheduled service from Gatwick to Ireland, as well as a new, seasonal scheduled service linking Newcastle with Jersey and a new, year-round combined Gatwick-Newcastle-Aberdeen weekend schedule. During that year the airline inaugurated scheduled services between Berlin and Amsterdam Schiphol, the company's first scheduled route from Berlin as well as its first scheduled route not to touch the UK. Furthermore, in November, Dan-Air withdrew its application to the CAA to take over British Airways' Highland and Islands scheduled operation.During 1981 and 1982 Dan-Air leased three HS 748s to British Airways to supplement its 748 fleet on Scottish internal routes. The partial liberalisation of the Anglo-Irish bilateral agreement during the early 1980s enabled Dan-Air to commence scheduled operations on Gatwick-Dublin in 1982. As the recession began to bite and passengers for Link City dwindled, the company contracted them to regional airlines operating smaller aircraft. 1982 saw Metropolitan Airways, a subsidiary of Alderney Air Ferries (Holdings), take over Dan-Air's Bournemouth-Cardiff/Birmingham-Manchester-Newcastle schedule.
March 1983 saw Dan-Air take over British Airways' loss-making Heathrow-Inverness route and made it profitable. This was the first time the airline had operated a scheduled service out of Heathrow. In May 1983 the company flew the world's inaugural BAe 146 scheduled service between Gatwick and Berne, the first commercial jet service into the small airport serving the Swiss capital. The same year the company started scheduled Gatwick-Zürich flights, the second time it had launched daily scheduled services on a European trunk route. In November 1983 Dan-Air joined Travicom, the CRS used by travel agents in the UK.In January 1984 Dan-Air took over Touraine Air Transport's scheduled internal German operation between Berlin and Saarbrücken, the first time the airline had operated a scheduled route entirely within another country. That year also saw Dan-Air assuming British Midland's scheduled route between Gatwick and Belfast International Airport as well as launch a scheduled Manchester-Zürich service. In May 1984 Dan-Air began stationing an aircraft in Jersey, increasing the frequency of its scheduled service to Gatwick and convert it into a year-round operation. In addition, 1984 was the year Metropolitan took over Dan-Air's remaining Link City schedules between Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Glasgow.
In 1985 Dan-Air inaugurated a seasonal scheduled route linking Gatwick with Innsbruck, operated with a BAe 146. Innsbruck was the airline's first scheduled destination in Austria, which began receiving commercial jetliners on a scheduled basis for the first time. 1985 was also the year Dan-Air launched a year-round Manchester-Newcastle-Oslo scheduled route, the company's first scheduled services to the Norwegian capital. In 1986 Dan-Air launched a year-round non-stop Manchester-Amsterdam scheduled service. In 1987 Dan-Air began a scheduled service between Gatwick and Lisbon, its first scheduled service on a main trunk route between the UK and the Iberian peninsula. The same year the airline joined IATA as a Trade Association member. Following British Airways' takeover of British Caledonian in December 1987, Dan-Air's scheduled services transferred to Texas Air's System One CRS.In 1988 Dan-Air commenced scheduled services between Gatwick and Madrid. Towards the end of that year the airline also assumed the former British Caledonian routes from Gatwick to Paris Charles de Gaulle, Manchester, Aberdeen via Manchester and Nice, gaining access to Gatwick's most important feeder routes as well as some of the densest and most lucrative short-haul European trunk routes.[At the start of the 1988-1989 winter timetable Dan-Air became a two-class scheduled airline when, under the stewardship of Vic Sheppard, it introduced its Class Elite business class between Gatwick and Paris and between Gatwick and Nice on three refurbished One-Eleven 500s. Sheppard joined Dan-Air from British Caledonian. In 1989 Dan-Air introduced Class Elite on all scheduled flights from Gatwick to Dublin, Zürich, Lisbon, Madrid and Toulouse.In 1990 Dan-Air introduced year-round two-class scheduled services from Gatwick to Tegel and Vienna. Gatwick-Tegel was Dan-Air's first scheduled link between its main UK base and its long-established overseas base. At the start of the 1990-1991 winter timetable the firm replaced one of the two Berlin HS 748 turboprops with larger BAe 146 jets on Berlin-Amsterdam and introduced direct scheduled services linking Berlin with Manchester and Newcastle via Amsterdam. In addition, the company took over the Gatwick-Amsterdam feeder route from British Airways.Following Air Europe's demise at the end of the first week of March 1991, Dan-Air began assuming most of its scheduled routes operated from Gatwick, starting with Gatwick-Brussels and Gatwick-Oslo. Dan-Air's rival's collapse also enabled it to increase frequencies and introduce larger aircraft on the busy Gatwick-Charles de Gaulle and Gatwick-Manchester routes. At the start of the 1991-1992 winter timetable Dan-Air increased frequency of its Gatwick-CDG services to nine return flights per day and Gatwick-Manchester to eight daily returns. The airline replaced BAC One-Eleven 500s with Boeing 737s on both routes. From then on Dan-Air carried more scheduled passengers than British Caledonian had ever carried in one year throughout its existence.
The expansion of Dan-Air's scheduled operation at Gatwick continued throughout 1992, resulting in the resumption of former Air Europe routes from Gatwick to Stockholm Arlanda in February and from Gatwick to Rome Fiumicino in April. In addition, Dan-Air launched Gatwick-Athens in March and re-launched Gatwick-Barcelona in May. During that period Dan-Air became Gatwick's largest resident, short-haul scheduled operator controlling 18% of all slots (21% of all morning peak time slots between 8am and 9am.)
In addition to scheduled services on its own account, Dan-Air was also contracted by other airlines to operate scheduled passenger and cargo services.
In 1959 British European Airways awarded Dan-Air a two-year contract to operate its six-times weekly scheduled freight service between Heathrow, Manchester and Glasgow's old Renfrew Airport using Avro York freighters. From 1960 onwards, BEA awarded Dan-Air additional contracts to operate its freight services from Heathrow to other destinations in the UK and Continental Europe. The airline eventually replaced the DC-3s, which it had used to operate these latter services, with Avro Yorks.
For a couple of months starting in October 1968 Kuwait Airways contracted its entire scheduled operation to Dan-Air, who supplied flight deck crews to man Comets while their own pilots underwent conversion training on the Boeing 707 in the US.
During the 1970s IAS Cargo Airlines sub-contracted Dan-Air to operate Zambia Airways' weekly scheduled Heathrow-Lusaka all-cargo service with a small fleet of 707 freighters in hybrid Dan-Air/IAS Cargo Airlines livery.
Dan-Air became the first airline to transport a live dolphin.
Dan-Air ordered its first new aircraft in 1969 with Handley Page, a single Jetstream turboprop to replace the DC-3 assigned to Link City. However, the order lapsed, following Handley Page's bankruptcy in 1970.
Dan-Air ran its first transatlantic charter flight in October 1969 from Gatwick to Trinidad with a Comet. Dan-Air was one of the first UK airlines to employ female pilots, with up to four among 450 during the second half of the 1970s. It was also the first UK airline to have a female pilot in command of jet aircraft, Yvonne Sintes, who became a Dan-Air's One-Eleven captain in 1975. She flew One-Elevens and Comets until her retirement in 1980.
Dan-Air changed its policy of employing exclusively female flight attendants in 1986.
Dan Air carried 500,000 passengers in one year for the first time in 1969.
1971 saw more than 1m passengers.
1973 was the first year the company carried more than 2m.
1977 was the first time with more than 3m.4m was reached the following year, the silver jubilee.
It took until 1985 to reach 5m.
In 1989 6m flew with Dan-Air, the highest ever.
Increasing financial woes
1989 marked a watershed. It was the first year since the formative era prior to the decision to introduce jets in the mid-1960s, and the only time apart from a blip in 1981-1982, when the company lost money over a whole 12-month period. Its loss stood at £3m. This was in contrast to the profit of £10m the year before. Like most charter-focused operators, Dan-Air used to make a loss during the winter because of the seasonal nature of its business. However, this was compensated by profit made during the summer, enabling a modest profit for the entire financial period. The financial position deteriorated during the early 1990s. It lost £24m during the last six months of its existence until October 1992. It lost £35m in 1991, its last complete 12-month period.
Causes of commercial decline
Among the reasons was lack of vertical integration with a UK tour operator. Dan-Air was the last major independent provider of charter airline seats to numerous large, medium-sized as well as small tour companies in the UK and overseas, at a time when most UK tour firms had set up their own airlines. These then competed with Dan-Air for the bulk of those operators' business, leading to a decline in rates. This resulted in a decline in Dan-Air's importance as a business partner for these tour operators, reducing its status from main to marginal provider. Another reason was that its fleet contained too many different, incompatible aircraft and that some were older and less efficient than aircraft operated by competitors such as Air Europe. This made Dan-Air costlier to operate. The Boeing 727s, which Dan-Air continued to acquire throughout the 1980s, including some on unfavourable leases, proved a financial millstone. Dan-Air's decision to embark on major expansion into scheduled services from Gatwick at a time when the UK economy was still mired in the early 1990s recession, made the financial position worse. The economic conditions in the UK meant actual revenues fell short of budget in Dan-Air's 1991-1995 business plan, which aimed at sustained profit by 1995 (transforming 1991's £35m loss into a £42m profit). This, in turn, meant injection of £49m of additional working capital into Dan-Air's parent company as a result of a successful share issue in 1990 was insufficient to fund the airline's needs. The funds raised through new shares were insufficient to standardise Dan-Air's fleet on the Boeing 737 300/400 series and the Avro RJ115 (an updated BAe 146-300 that was never built). The funds were also insufficient to finance transformation from a cheap-and-cheerful charter carrier with a motley collection of poorly performing, "low visibility" regional routes into a quality, "high visibility" mainline short-haul scheduled operator plying trunk routes.
Dan-Air's last chairman, David James, said weak marketing and its charter mentality, even after the decision to make high-profile scheduled services the focus of commercial activities, was a reason it failed to achieve results. That meant that instead of making Dan-Air the airline of choice for high-yield business travellers on prime scheduled routes where it had become a major force in the wake of British Caledonian's and Air Europe's demise - such as Gatwick to Paris Charles de Gaulle - through marketing and publicity, Dan-Air continued selling to consolidators and discount travel agencies, in the way it had sold its charter inventory to package tour operators. The airline saw this as risk minimisation to fill seats on scheduled services. However, Dan-Air surrendered control over its scheduled seats to third parties whose sales were volume-driven. This deprived Dan-Air of the opportunity to boost the profitability of its scheduled operation by concentrating on maximising revenues from high-yield travellers.
Following discussions with Virgin Atlantic to save Dan-Air in return for an investment of £10m, the airline was sold to British Airways in 1992 for £1 and absorbed into its Gatwick operation. British Airways took on its financial commitments of £50m (including debts), 12 of its most modern Boeing 737s, a similar number of short-haul scheduled routes from Gatwick and about one-fifth of its 2,500 workers. On 27 November 1992 Dan Air Services Ltd changed to British Airways (European Operations at Gatwick) Ltd This rump formed the nucleus of what British Airways intended to be a low-cost short-haul feeder for its Gatwick long-haul scheduled services, helping to return British Airways' loss-making Gatwick operation to sustained profitability. This has proved elusive.
Incidents and accidents
Throughout Dan-Air's 39 years the airline suffered six accidents involving the loss of aircraft and lives, three of which killed fare-paying passengers. These accidents were :
G-AMUV: an Avro York crashed on the 25 August 1958 while attempting a forced landing at Gurgaon, Haryana, India, after an engine had caught fire from Karachi to Delhi. The radio operator was the sole survivor among the aircraft's five occupants, all of whom were crew members. There were no passengers as this was an all-cargo flight.
G-APDN: a De Havilland Comet series 4 operating a charter flight from Manchester to Barcelona crashed on the 3 July 1970 into a mountain near Arbucies in Catalonia in northern Spain. The aircraft was destroyed and 105 passengers and seven crew died. This was the airline's first fatal accident killing fare-paying passengers.
G-BEBP: a Boeing 707-321C freighter on a non-scheduled international cargo flight crashed on the 14 May 1977 near Lusaka Airport at the end of a service from Heathrow operated on behalf of IAS Cargo Airlines, which itself had been contracted by Zambia Airways. The right-hand horizontal stabiliser - including the elevator assembly - detached during the approach as a result of metal fatigue, causing loss of pitch control. Other factors included the rear spar structure's inadequate fail-safe design, the safety regulator's design assessment and certification procedure as well as the inspection procedure adopted by the aircraft's operator. The accident killed all six occupants on board. It sparked a debate on maintenance requirements as well as service life limitations of "geriatric" jets.
Flight 0034: a Hawker Siddeley 748 series 1 (registration G-BEKF) operating an oil industry support flight crashed on the 31 July 1979 at Sumburgh Airport in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. The aircraft failed to become airborne and crashed into the sea. The accident was due to the elevator gust-lock having become re-engaged, preventing the aircraft from rotating into a flying attitude. The aircraft was destroyed and 17 persons died of drowning.
Flight 1008: a Boeing 727-46 (registration G-BDAN) crashed on the 25 April 1980 while preparing to land at Los Rodeos (now Tenerife North Airport), Canary Islands, at the end of a charter flight from Manchester. The aircraft flew into high terrain when it turned the wrong way in a holding pattern. The aircraft was destroyed and all 146 occupants perished. This accident also marked the worst air disaster involving a British-registered aircraft in terms of loss of life.
Flight 240: a Hawker Siddeley 748 series 2 (registration G-ASPL) crashed on a regular postal flight from Gatwick to East Midlands Airport on 26 June 1981 near its final destination at Nailstone in Leicestershire. The plane's right rear door had sprung open in mid-air. It subsequently detached, hit the horizontal tailplane and became stuck on the leading edge. This resulted in a loss of control causing the aircraft to enter a steep dive, during which its wings and tailplane failed as a result of overstressing. Both pilots as well as the postal assistant on board of this flight lost their lives.