HP Jetstream - DAN AIR REMEMBERED

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HP Jetstream

AIRCRAFT
JETSTREAM DETAILS & FLEET LISTING
The Handley Page HP.137 Jetstream  is a small twin turboprop airliner, with a pressurised fuselage. The  aircraft was designed to meet the requirements of the United States  commuter- and regional airline market. The design was later improved and  built by British Aerospace as the BAe Jetstream 31 and BAe Jetstream 32  featuring different turboprop engines. The aircraft was evaluated by  Dan Air to meet it's growing commuter network (CIty Link) along with the  Nord 262. Neither aircraft went into long term service with Dan Air who  were looking at a replacement to their DC3 aircraft. Eventually,  following the aquisition of Skyways the company utilised Skyway's Avro  748's and a full time replacement was found. Our Thanks go to Dave  Ingham who supplied us with the picture.
Kind thanks to Propliner.co.uk for this additional information
For  decades airlines the world over have sought the ideal replacement for  the ubiquitous Douglas DC-3. Throughout the fifties and sixties,  countless airlines were faced with the dilemma of how to upgrade their  DC-3 fleets, taking into account cost, performance, capacity,  reliability and all the other issues relevant to the successful  introduction of a new type. Most chose Convairliners or early turboprop  types such as the Friendship, Avro 748 or Herald, but one airline here  in England in the late sixties was not entirely convinced that the  routes upon which its last DC-3 flew, would actually support any of the  new breed of Rolls-Royce Dart-powered airliners. This led to the airline  undertaking a comprehensive feasibility study into the various types on  offer, with the choice eventually falling to a rank outsider.

MIKE PAPA PAPA'S TERRITORY

Famous  as the world's leading operator of Comet jet airliners, the last  airline to fly the enchanting Airspeed Ambassador, and owner of  'propliners' as diverse as Yorks, Herons, Bristol Freighters and Doves,  Dan-Air Services was one of Britain's most charismatic independents.  While the Comet fleet carved a remarkable chapter in the annals of  British civil aviation, the airline's initial operations were rather  more modest, and came about as a result of the airline's parent company,  Davies & Newman, taking a DC-3 in settlement of a debt. Four DC-3s  were eventually flown by Dan-Air, but by the end of the sixties just one  example remained in service - G-AMPP (c/n 26717) based at Lulsgate  Airport, Bristol, flying a domestic scheduled service to Newcastle via  Cardiff and Liverpool. Flown on weekdays, this route had been in  operation for many years, and loads had gradually improved as the  service became established. During the summer of 1969, in an attempt to  further develop the network, the DC-3 was deployed on the  Bristol-Cardiff-Liverpool section of the network, whilst Ambassadors  flew connecting services from Newcastle and Teesside, together with an  international route to Amsterdam from Liverpool. However, the service  from Bristol and Cardiff to Liverpool was only flown on three days each  week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), and great difficulty was  experienced in generating sufficient loads to make these routes viable.  Meanwhile, the DC-3 was becoming increasingly expensive to operate and  was due for a major overhaul in 1970. Thus, Dan-Air decided to carry out  an evaluation of the various types available to replace the DC-3 during  the summer of 1969.

Having  discounted second-hand Viscounts, Heralds or 748s due to their size and  cost, Dan-Air narrowed the field down to perhaps three types - the  Beech 99, Handley Page Jetstream 1, and DHC-6 Twin Otter, with two  others on the reserve list in the shape of the Nord 262 and Saunders  ST-27. A remarkably varied selection of airliners, with only the  Jetstream holding British certification. But financial troubles at  Handley Page meant that airlines were reluctant to commit themselves to  an aircraft that might not have the benefit of long term customer  support. All the other contenders, though, demanded costly certification  programmes, and for Dan-Air this would not be an easy decision.

EVALUATION TAKES PLACE

Three  of the types under consideration were put through their paces on the  Dan-Air network. First to come under the spotlight was Beech 99 N949K  (c/n U-36) supplied by Eagle Flying Services at Leavesden. Her  demonstration took place on May 27 1969 when she flew to Dan-Air's West  Country base at Lulsgate to begin a day of testing by Dan-Air. This  began with the short flight across the Bristol Channel to Cardiff  Airport, where she touched down at 1104 GMT. Ten minutes later she was  airborne again heading north to Liverpool, where she touched down at  1146. The Beech 99 then conducted a series of local flights for the  benefit of Dan-Air executives and flight crews, before departing for her  home base at Leavesden shortly after five o'clock in the afternoon. On  the next day, the Beech 99 gave a demonstration at Luton Airport, while  on May 29 she spent the day with Channel Airways at Southend, hopeful of  replacing their fleet of Herons.

Second  candidate for evaluation by Dan-Air was Jetstream 1 demonstrator G-AXEK  (c/n 203). Operated by CSE Aviation at Oxford (Kidlington), this  aircraft was given Dan-Air titling for the day, and once again she began  by flying to Lulsgate Airport, arriving on the morning of June 12 1969.  Departing at midday, she flew to Cardiff, landing at 1211 local time,  took off again at 1224, and arrived at Speke Airport, Liverpool, at  1301. Here she spent two hours on the ground prior to continuing the  journey north to Newcastle, where she arrived shortly before four  o'clock to conclude her day with Dan-Air.

Twin  Otter CF-WTE (c/n 96) was the next aircraft competing in the Dan-Air  challenge. She also began her inspection at Lulsgate Airport, on the  morning of July 1 1969, and after making a brief stop at Cardiff, flew  on to Liverpool. Of the three aircraft, she was the slowest on the  Cardiff to Liverpool route, taking 51 minutes to complete the flight as  opposed to the Jetstream's 37 minutes.

All  three aircraft had performed much as expected, and the sleek Jetstream  with its 19-seat capacity, comfortable pressurised cabin and impressive  performance won the day. However, due to the precarious financial  situation at Handley Page, Dan-Air chose to initially lease one  aircraft, with the intention of purchasing it outright at a later date  once the future of Handley Page was secure. With the DC-3 scheduled for  retirement at the end of the winter timetable in March 1970, it was  planned to take delivery of the Jetstream during January in order that  crew training and route familiarisation could be undertaken.

But,  as in the case of so many DC-3 replacement programmes, the purchase of a  successor went far from smoothly. Although production of Jetstreams  continued apace at Radlett, with financial backing coming from American  sources, by January 1970 Dan-Air's aircraft was still in the factory  when production ceased. As a result Dan-Air had to look for an  alternative, and having already ruled out the other original contenders,  now looked elsewhere. It seems likely that Dan-Air had planned for this  contingency, as by the end of January it had revealed its decision.
As  a result of the Handley Page collapse, Dan-Air brought a true Gallic  flavour to Britain's rather staid commercial scene for the first time  ever. In a surprise move, the airline entered into a contract with Nord  Aviation in France for the supply of one Nord 262A 'Frégate' airliner  fully certified to ARB requirements on the British register. 4R-ACL (c/n  29), a lone example flown by Air Ceylon since March 1967, was bought  and returned to France for overhaul and modification to British civil  airworthiness requirements.

This  was a bold move taking into account that this very French product was  also powered by two engines that were entirely unfamiliar in the UK -  the Turboméca Bastan VI rated at 1,080 eshp. Nevertheless, Dan-Air went  ahead with the purchase and Nord Aviation developed a special version  groomed around ARB requirements. Now registered F-WNDD, the aircraft was  flown to Melun-Villaroche and here Nord Aviation fitted new wingtips to  the aircraft similar to those of the later 'C' version in order to make  the stall more docile, while in the cockpit the aircraft received a  stick shaker and various changes were made to the central warning panel  with the provision of colour-coded alarms. Flight testing took place  during June 1970, with the aircraft being awarded an interim C of A on  June 17 1970. One week later already resplendent in the airline's red,  black and white livery, she was registered to Dan-Air Services as  G-AYFR, and was now ready for delivery.

G-AYFR  was delivered from Melun to Gatwick Airport on the afternoon of July 1  1970. Her arrival marked the historic handover of the first ever wholly  French built airliner, fully certificated to ARB standards, to serve  with a British airline (Silver City Airways had operated a Bréguet Deux  Ponts for a short while in 1953 under French registry). Prior to her  introduction into service, the Nord 262 would need to undertake many  hours of route proving and crew training. This began at nine o'clock  precisely on the morning of July 3 when G-AYFR lifted off from Gatwick  and headed north for Newcastle. Introduction of the new type would see  Dan-Air closing its regional base at Bristol, and transferring the base  to Newcastle, which would now become a hub for the airline's scheduled  operations. Two hours were spent on the ground at Newcastle, and this  was followed by the aircraft making a familiarisation and crew training  sortie over the airline's existing DC-3 route, which during 1970 was as  follows - Newcastle-Liverpool-Cardiff-Bristol - before flying north to  Manchester and Newcastle, and then returning to Gatwick for a night  stop.

INAUGURAL SERVICE

Several  hours of crew training at Newcastle followed, while DC-3 G-AMPP  continued to maintain the route in her very own inimitable fashion. A  number of regular passengers on the route expressed their sorrow at the  forthcoming retirement of this cherished member of the Dan-Air fleet,  and one businessmen insisted on buying a ticket for her last flight,  whenever it was going to take place. Although planned to take over on  July 27, the Nord 262 went into full Dan-Air operation earlier than  expected. On July 22 it was decided that sufficient crews had been  checked out on the new airliner, and while G-AMPP flew her final service  on the morning of July 22 flying from Bristol via Cardiff and Liverpool  to Newcastle (arriving at 0930 GMT), the Nord 262 operated the  southbound evening service. She departed from Newcastle at 1700GMT, and  flew via Liverpool and Cardiff to Bristol, where she arrived shortly  after 1930 GMT to conclude a highly successful service debut.

Subsequently  the Nord 262 settled into a weekday routine of flying  Newcastle-Liverpool-Cardiff-Bristol-Manchester-Newcastle-Manchester-Bristol-Cardiff-Liverpool-Newcastle  on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays the  aircraft tracked the route by a rather different manner flying  Newcastle-Manchester-Bristol-Cardiff-Liverpool-Newcastle-Liverpool-Cardiff-Bristol-Manchester-Newcastle.  The higher 200 knot cruising speed, as opposed to the DC-3's 145 knots,  and faster turn-around times allowed the Nord to operate many extra  sectors in a day, with a higher utilisation and more attractive timings  hopefully increasing custom on the network.

And  so DC-3 G-AMPP was pensioned off and flown to Lasham, having amassed a  total of over 18,000 flying hours, 12,000 of which had been amassed with  Dan-Air. She never flew again, but for many years was placed on display  outside the Dan-Air maintenance facilities at Lasham, where she  masqueraded as 'G-AMSU', the airline's first DC-3.

NEW OPERATING TECHNIQUES

The  Nord 262 soon proved popular with passengers and crew alike, and the  operation took on a more efficient air as the aircraft settled into  daily service. Time on the ground was critical to the success of the  service, with the Nord generally spending about ten minutes in between  touchdown and take-off on the intermediate sectors. This was achieved by  having the passengers ready at the departure gate and by the aircraft  only shutting down the port Bastan, leaving the starboard running whilst  passengers disembarked and others boarded. This meant that the flight  crew remained busy on the flight deck, and as soon as the rear passenger  door was closed, the aircraft would call for taxy clearance.

On  one occasion at Cardiff in the autumn of 1971 this intensity created a  problem after leaving the apron on another sector to Liverpool. G-AYFR  had landed five minutes earlier on runway 31 inbound from Liverpool, and  having vacated the runway alongside the local flying club, had parked  on the main apron adjacent to the original terminal. Keeping her  starboard engine running throughout, the passengers had exchanged their  seats and with everyone safely aboard, the door was closed and the  aircraft requested taxy clearance. This was duly issued, with  instructions to cross the main runway, then proceed along the parallel  taxiway to the holding point for runway 31. As the aircraft turned  through 180 degrees leaving the apron, it became apparent that something  was wrong. From the control tower, it seemed that a section of the port  lower fuselage was missing, exposing the area around the main  undercarriage wheel. This observation was passed to the crew, who  insisted that the aircraft was fully serviceable and that they were now  requesting airways clearance and permission to take-off. As the Nord 262  raced towards the holding point, anxiety in the control tower led to a  member of the fire service being despatched in a Land Rover to inspect  the side of the aircraft and report his findings. This he did by radio,  confirming that there did appear to be a chunk of fuselage missing.  Disbelief on the flight deck eventually gave way to common sense, and  the aircraft returned to the main apron, where both engines were shut  down, the passengers disembarked and a red-faced crew left to inspect  the damage to the aircraft. Repairs were soon carried out, and the  aircraft placed back in service. Later in the day, a farmer in the  Brecon area telephoned the airport to report that he had found an item  in one of his fields that he believed had fallen from an aircraft. It  seems likely that during the earlier descent in to Cardiff, this piece  of the aircraft had for some reason broken away. Although it made the  aircraft appear unsightly, the lack of this part of the fuselage had not  affected the structural integrity of the aircraft in any way.

Apart  from the scheduled services linking Wales and the West Country with  Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, the Nord also undertook other  flying on the Dan-Air network and also occasional ad-hoc charter work.  This included a Ronaldsway to Prestwick passenger schedule on August 15  1970, a Manchester to Aldergrove newspaper charter on the night of  December 18 1970, followed on the very next day by a charter carrying  Wardair passengers from Manchester to Prestwick. A similar charter was  flown from Prestwick to Manchester on January 9 1971, and later in the  year the Nord would become a regular participant on the Dan-Air summer  schedule linking the Isle of Man with Prestwick. G-AYFR carried 26  passengers from Prestwick to Ronaldsway on April 18 1971, and thereafter  visited every weekend until the end of the season.

May  1971 saw further variety for the Nord 262, with the aircraft flying  charters from Liverpool to Gatwick and Luton on May 7 and 8, while on  May 13 the aircraft undertook a route proving flight from Leeds to  Glasgow and return in anticipation of the opening of this new route.  Subsequently inaugurated by Dan-Air's newly acquired Avro 748 G-ARAY on  June 1, the Nord appeared on the route on June 2 and 4, but otherwise  remained dedicated to the "Link City" (as it was now called) schedule  from Newcastle.

During  the summer of 1971, when engineering or operational requirements  dictated, the Nord would be replaced by Dan-Air's last Ambassador  G-ALZO, and she flew the Newcastle to Cardiff and Bristol routes on  several occasions during June and July. However, she had been retired by  the time that a replacement was needed in November, and on one day,  November 18, Dan-Air BAC One-Eleven 401 G-AXCK and Skyways International  Avro 748 G-ARMX were both used to operate the "Link City" service.

The  appearance of the Skyways 748 was no great surprise as Dan-Air were in  the process of taking over this troubled airline, together with its  fleet of 748 airliners. This take-over sounded the death knell for the  Nord 262, as the 748 fleet would now take over Dan-Air's scheduled  network. As a result the Nord flew her final service to Newcastle on  January 26 1972. She was flown to Lasham on the next day, and then  prepared for sale to Rousseau Aviation based at Dinard. Registered  F-BTDQ she was delivered from Lasham, via Gatwick, to Dinard on February  22 1972, thereby concluding a successful eighteen month long period of  colourful airline service with Dan-Air.  Throughout this section of the  website we have endeavoured to find a photograph of each individual  aircraft. there are usually thumbnail images of all the liveries the  aircraft wore whilst with Dan Air, and in many cases, the prior and  subsequent liveries with other operators. The thumbnail images can be  enlarged by simply clicking on them.


G-AXEK
Type:  Handley Page Jetstream 137

Serial Number: 203

Entered Service:  1969

Last Flown: 1969

Obtained From: Manufacturer

Notes: Used only for evaluation purposes. The aircraft did carry Dan Air Titles

G-AXEK GALLERY
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