British United Air Ferries

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British United Air Ferries
British United Air Ferries logo.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
VF BAF Air Ferry
Founded 1963
Ceased operations 2001
Hubs Southend
Lydd Ferryfield
Hurn
Southampton
Stansted
Aberdeen
Sumburgh
Fleet size 23 piston airliners
(9 Aviation Traders Carvair,
14 Bristol Superfreighter
(as of September 1967))
Destinations Channel Islands,
Continental Europe
Parent company Air Holdings (1967—1971)
T.D. Keegan (1971—1972)
Transmeridian Air Cargo (1972—1977)
T.D. Keegan (1977—1983)
Jadepoint (1983—1988)
Mostjet (1989—1993)
[British] World Aviation Group (1994—2001)
Headquarters Central London (1963—1967)
London Southend Airport (1967—2001)
Key people Sir Miles Wyatt,
F. A. Laker,
Max Stuart-Shaw,
Graham Kentsley,
R.L. Cumming,
A.F. Nickalls,
D.J. Platt,
T.D. Keegan,
A.L. MacLeod,
D. Willis,
R. Pesskin,
N. Skinner,
A. Weiner,
I.M. Herman,
R. Pinnington,
R. Sturman,
N. Hansford,
M.J. Sessions

British United Air Ferries (BUAF) was a wholly private, British independent[nb 1] car and passenger ferry airline based in the United Kingdom during the 1960s. It specialised in cross-Channel ferry flights carrying cars and their owners between its numerous bases in Southern England, the Channel Islands and Continental Europe. All-passenger and all-cargo flights were operated as well. Following several identity and ownership changes, it went out of business in 2001.

History[edit]

BUAF came into being on 1 January 1963 as a result of the merger of Channel Air Bridge and Silver City Airways.[1][2][3] The newly formed airline was a wholly owned subsidiary of Air Holdings,[3] which in turn was a subsidiary of British & Commonwealth (B&C). This ownership structure made BUAF a sister airline of British United Airways (BUA), at the time Britain's biggest independent airline and the country's leading independent scheduled operator.

BUAF operated scheduled and non-scheduled vehicle ferry, passenger and freight services. This included scheduled routes from Southend, Lydd Ferryfield and Hurn to ten points in the Channel Islands and Continental Europe. Aviation Traders Carvairs operated what the airline called "deeper penetration" routes to Basle, Geneva and Strasbourg.

Bristol Superfreighters plied the routes to Jersey, Guernsey, Cherbourg, Le Touquet, Calais, Ostend and Rotterdam.

The airline's scheduled services between the UK, Le Touquet and Ostend formed part of rail-air operations linking the respective capital cities at each end. These were operated in conjunction with Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer français (SNCF) and Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges/Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen (SNCB/NMBS), the respective national railway companies of France and Belgium. (Amongst these, was a six-times daily Southend—Ostend vehicle ferry service operated in conjunction with erstwhile Belgian flag carrier Sabena. This service, which had been launched by Air Charter in partnership with Sabena in 1957 with three dedicated Superfreighters in full Sabena livery and which BUAF had inherited from Channel Air Bridge, continued until 1964.[4]) Coach-air services were provided in conjunction with local coach operators between the UK, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland via Calais, Ostend, Rotterdam and Basle.

In addition, all-passenger configured Bristol Freighters/Superfreighters were used for inclusive tour work on behalf of BUA (Services) Ltd. Sister airline BUA (C.I.) assumed the former Silver City routes linking the North of England with the Channel Isles and the Continent.[5]

The British United Air Ferries Superfreighter Valiant pictured in 1966

BUAF subsequently added routes linking Southampton with Rotterdam, Ostend, Calais, Deauville, Le Touquet, Jersey, Guernsey, Dinard and Cherbourg to its scheduled route network, while discontinuing its "deeper penetration" routes to Basle, Geneva and Strasbourg as these generated insufficient traffic to sustain a viable operation. Some of the new Southampton routes were part of rail-air operations in conjunction with the French and Belgian national railway companies as well.[6][7]

As a consequence of B&C's reorganisation of the BUA group of companies during 1967/8, BUAF changed its name to British Air Ferries (BAF) in September 1967.[2][8][9][10][11][12]

In October 1971, BAF's ownership passed from Air Holdings to the Keegan family.[13][14]

In 1972, BAF became a wholly owned subsidiary of Transmeridian Air Cargo (TMAC), a Stansted-based all-cargo airline controlled by the Keegan family.[2]

Handley Page Dart Herald of British Air Ferries operating a service from Southend Airport in 1976

In 1975, BAF began replacing its remaining Carvairs with Handley Page Dart Herald turboprops on its cross-Channel routes linking Southend with Le Touquet, Ostend and Rotterdam. This resulted in these services being converted into ordinary passenger schedules and the Carvairs being transferred to cargo flying.[2][15][16]

On 1 January 1977, BAF operated its last car ferry service.[17][18] Later the same year, on 31 October, BAF Herald G-BDFE operating the airline's inaugural scheduled passenger flight from Southend to Düsseldorf under the command of Captain Caroline Frost and First Officer Lesley Hardy became Britain's first airliner flown by an all-female crew.[19]

On 1 January 1979, BAF transferred its entire scheduled operation including associated aircraft and staff to British Island Airways (BIA).[18][20][21]

Following British Airways's decision to withdraw from its loss-making regional routes and to retire its Vickers Viscount turboprop fleet, BAF acquired the entire 18-strong fleet along with the spares inventory during the early 1980s. This acquisition made it the world's largest Viscount operator at the time.[18][22][23][24][25]

As a result of the changes the airline underwent in the late 1970s and early 1980s, BAF mainly concentrated on leasing, charter and oil industry support work.[20][26][27][28][29][30][24][31]

In 1983, the Keegans put some of their businesses into receivership and in March of that year, sold the British Air Ferries name along with the airline's commercial flying operations to the Jadepoint investment group for £2m.[24][32][33]

Growing financial difficulties at Jadepoint resulted in BAF being placed in administration in January 1988.[24][34] A new holding company, called Mostjet, was formed within a year to enable the airline to emerge from administration in May 1989, the only British airline to do so at the time.[31][33][35]

British World Airlines logo.svg

In April 1993, BAF was renamed British World Airlines (BWA, ICAO code BWL).[18][36]

Following delivery of BWA's first ATR 72 on 1 April 1996, the airline converted its three remaining passenger-configured Viscounts to freighters.[29][30][37] On 18 April the same year, BWA Viscount G-APEY operated the type's last passenger flight, marking the 43rd anniversary of the Viscount's entry into full commercial air service with British European Airways (BEA).[37]

BWA ceased trading on 14 December 2001, as a result of the tough business climate during the post-9/11 downturn.[12][38]

Aircraft fleet details[edit]

British Air Ferries, Vickers Viscount at Dublin Airport in 1993

BUAF/BAF/BWA operated the following aircraft types:

Hovercraft[edit]

In BUAF's days, all aircraft were given individual names.

Fleet in 1963[edit]

In April 1963, the BUAF fleet comprised 28 aircraft.[5]

British United Air Ferries fleet in April 1963
Aircraft Number
Aviation Traders ATL 98 Carvair 3
Bristol 170 Superfreighter Mark 32 21
Bristol 170 Freighter Mark 31 1
Bristol 170 Freighter Mark 21E 3
Total 28

BUAF employed 519 people at this time.[5]

Fleet in 1967[edit]

In September 1967, the BUAF fleet comprised 23 aircraft.[6]

British United Air Ferries fleet in September 1967
Aircraft Number
Aviation Traders ATL 98 Carvair 9
Bristol 170 Superfreighter Mark 32 14
Total 23

BUAF employed 633 people at this time.[6]

Fleet in 1972[edit]

In May 1972, the BAF fleet comprised 8 aircraft.[39]

British Air Ferries fleet in May 1972
Aircraft Number
Canadair CL-44 3
Aviation Traders ATL 98 Carvair 5
Total 8

BAF employed 300 people at this time.[39]

Fleet in 1978[edit]

In April 1978, the BAF fleet comprised 18 aircraft.[40]

British Air Ferries fleet in April 1978
Aircraft Number
Aviation Traders ATL 98 Carvair 2
Handley Page Dart Herald 200 16
Total 18

BAF employed 450 people at this time.[40]

Fleet in 1984[edit]

In March 1984, the BAF fleet comprised 10 aircraft.[41]

British Air Ferries fleet in March 1984
Aircraft Number
Vickers Viscount 800 8
Handley Page Dart Herald 200 2
Total 10

BAF employed 165 people at this time.[41]

Fleet in 1990[edit]

In March 1990, the BAF fleet comprised 22 aircraft.[33]

British Air Ferries fleet in March 1990
Aircraft Number
BAC One-Eleven 200 3
Vickers Viscount 810 5
Vickers Viscount 806 10
Handley Page Dart Herald 200 3
Fokker F-27 600 1
Total 22

BAF employed 450 people at this time.[33]

Fleet in 1994[edit]

In March 1994, the BWA fleet comprised 18 aircraft.[42]

British World Airlines fleet in March 1994
Aircraft Number
BAe 146–300 2
BAC One-Eleven 500 6
Vickers Viscount 800 10
Total 18

The BWA group employed 400 people at this time.[42]

Fleet in 1998[edit]

In March 1998, the BWA fleet comprised 9 aircraft.[43]

British World Airlines fleet in March 1998
Aircraft Number
BAC One-Eleven 500 5
BAe ATP 2
ATR 72–210 2
Total 9

BWA employed 222 people at this time.[43]

Fleet in 2001[edit]

In December 2001, the BWA fleet comprised 15 aircraft.[12]

British World Airlines fleet in March 2001
Aircraft Number
Boeing 757-200 1
Boeing 737-300 3
BAC One-Eleven 500 3
BAe ATP 6
ATR 72–210 2
Total 15

Accidents and incidents[edit]

During the early part of its existence, when the airline traded as British United Air Ferries, it suffered one non-fatal incident.[44]

On 24 September 1963, a Bristol 170 Superfreighter Mark 32 (registration: G-AMWA) was damaged beyond repair in a takeoff accident at Guernsey Airport.[45]

Operating a scheduled passenger flight to Bournemouth, the Bristol 170 was preparing for takeoff from Guernsey Airport's runway 28. The first officer, who was flying the aircraft used full power to counteract the effects of a 17 kn (20 mph) crosswind. Due to a problem with the port engine the First officer decided to abort takeoff as speed approached 80 knots. As the aircraft was going to overshoot the end of the runway he steered it to the left to avoid hitting obstacles. The aircraft became airborne for a short distance, crashing through the airport boundary fence, crossing a public road and coming to a halt a quarter of a mile from the runway end. Although the aircraft was a complete write-off, there were no fatalities among the four occupants (three crew and one passenger).

The accident investigators established the probable cause of the accident as the inability of the pilot in command to bring the aircraft to a stop within the remaining runway length, following his decision to abandon the takeoff due to a malfunction of the port engine, .[46]

The company suffered two non-fatal incidents during the British Air Ferries era.[47]

Vickers Viscount 806 G-APIM Viscount Stephen Piercey,[nb 2][48] was hit on 11 January 1988 by a Fairflight Shorts 330 (registration: G-BHWT), which had suffered a nosegear brake and steering failure while preparing to take off from Southend Airport to Fairflight's Biggin Hill base. The collision destroyed the left-hand side of the Viscount's nose. Although the aircraft was deemed damaged beyond economical repair, it was subsequently restored and put on display at the Brooklands Museum.[48][49]

The final two recorded incidents occurred during the British World period. One of these involved fatalities.[50]

On 25 February 1994, a BWA Vickers Viscount 813 (registration: G-OHOT) operating an all-cargo flight from Edinburgh to Coventry encountered severe icing conditions en route. This caused the no. 2 engine to fail and its propeller to autofeather while the aircraft had begun its descent from flight level (FL) 150. During that time, the no. 3 engine started losing power as well. In response air traffic control immediately cleared the flightdeck crew to descend to FL070 and thereafter, FL050. The crew attempted to restart the no. 2 and 3 engines but when this proved futile, they elected to divert to Birmingham. The crew did manage to restart the no. 2 engine but this was followed by failure of no. 4. Five minutes short of Birmingham, the aircraft lost all electrical power and as a result radio navigation and intercom. The aircraft struck trees on 7.5 km (4.7 mi) southwest of Uttoxeter, causing it to break up and kill one of the two pilots.[51][52]

The official accident investigation report of the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) identified the several factors as the likely cause:

  1. Multiple engine failures were a consequence of extreme icing conditions.
  2. The flightdeck crew's failure to complete the emergency drills as a result of not referring to the emergency checklist prejudiced their chances of restarting the engines successfully.
  3. The crew's actions to secure and restart the failed engines, which did not comply with the operator's procedures, restricted the power that was available.
  4. The drag induced by the failed engines' unfeathered propellers and the weight increase suffered by the heavily iced airframe caused a loss of height and control before reaching the diversion airfield.
  5. The crew had no contingency plan to avoid the forecast severe icing conditions and was unaware of the relative position of a closer diversion airfield that could have been chosen by using ATC services more effectively. This constituted poor crew resource management, which reduced the potential for emergency planning, decision making and workload sharing.[51][53][54]

Film and TV appearances[edit]

BUAF aircraft appeared in the following feature films and TV series:

Notes[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ independent from government-owned corporations
  2. ^ named after Flight International magazine's former staff photographer Stephen Piercey who died on 20 May 1984 in a mid-air collision during an assignment at the Hanover Air Show
Citations
  1. ^ British United Air Ferries, Air Commerce, Flight International, 26 July 1962, p. 117
  2. ^ a b c d British Air Ferries Ltd. (BAF), Flight International, 11 December 1975, p. 843
  3. ^ a b Aircraft (Gone but not forgotten ... SILVER CITY), Vol 43, No 3, p. 44, Ian Allan Publishing, Hersham, January 2010
  4. ^ Airliner Classics (SABENA – Belgium's Flag Carrier: Post-War Years), p. 63, Ian Allan Publishing, Hersham, July 2013
  5. ^ a b c Flight International, 11 April 1963, World Airline Survey ... British United Air Ferries Ltd, ..., p. 517
  6. ^ a b c British Airline Survey ... British United Air Ferries Ltd ..., Flight International, 28 September 1967, p. 531
  7. ^ BUAF Cuts its Losses, Air Transport, Flight International, 2 February 1967, p. 157
  8. ^ From BUAF to BAF — Plans for the new independent British Air Ferries, Air Transport, Flight International, 7 December 1967, p. 937
  9. ^ From BUAF to BAF — Plans for the new independent British Air Ferries, Air Transport ..., Flight International, 7 December 1967, p. 938
  10. ^ Air Holdings Lets Go, Air Transport, Flight International 23 May 1968, p. 775
  11. ^ British Air Ferries Look Ahead, Air Transport ..., Flight International, 15 August 1968, p. 248
  12. ^ a b c Directory: World Airlines — British World Airlines (VF/BWL) ..., Flight International 12—18 March 2002, p. 90
  13. ^ Ferry changes, Air Transport ..., Flight International, 18 November 1971, p. 794
  14. ^ World Airlines — British Air Ferries Ltd (BAF) ..., Flight International, 18 May 1971, p. 17
  15. ^ Air Transport, Flight International, 8 May 1975, pp. 726/7
  16. ^ British Air Ferries Ltd. (BAF), Flight International, 11 December 1975, p. 844
  17. ^ British World Airlines Ltd. — Company History: Amalgamation in the 1960s (Original Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 18, St. James Press, 1997)
  18. ^ a b c d Mike Sessions – Looking on the Bright Side of Life, Airliner World, Key Publishing, Stamford, UK, March 2010, p. 47
  19. ^ A Sociology of Commercial Flight Crew, Bennett, S.A., Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot, 2006, p. 52
  20. ^ a b Air Anglia takeover creates new force in Europe, Air Transport, Flight International, 11 November 1978, p. 1720
  21. ^ British World Airlines Ltd. — Company History: New blood in the 1970s (Original Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 18, St. James Press, 1997)
  22. ^ Southend-based British Air Ferries ..., Airliner Market, Flight International, 24 January 1981, p. 211
  23. ^ British Air Ferries ..., Airliner Market, Flight International, 23 January 1982, p. 161
  24. ^ a b c d British World Airlines Ltd. — Company History: Different Aircraft, Different Owners in the 1980s (Original Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 18, St. James Press, 1997)
  25. ^ RAF Rochford — History: Post War Archived 15 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ BAF wins oil contract, Air Transport, Flight International, 14 January 1984, p. 53
  27. ^ Now that the honeymoon is over ..., Flight International, 17 March 1984, p. 684
  28. ^ Now that the honeymoon is over ... British Air Ferries ..., Flight International, 17 March 1984, p. 685
  29. ^ a b Viscount's last passenger flight, Air Transport, Flight International, 6—12 March 1996, p. 8
  30. ^ a b British World considers more ATR 72 orders, 29 May — 4 June 1996, p. 13
  31. ^ a b British World Airlines Ltd. — Company History: A shining Gold Anniversary, to 1996 and beyond (Original Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 18, St. James Press, 1997)
  32. ^ Keegan clarifies, World News, Flight International, 8 October 1983, p. 931
  33. ^ a b c d World Airline Directory — British Air Ferries ..., Flight International, 14—20 March 1990, p. 78
  34. ^ Airline seeks bankruptcy protection, World News, Flight International, 16 January 1988, p. 2
  35. ^ British Air Ferries ..., Flight International, 13 May 1989, p. 16
  36. ^ BAF sheds ferry tag, Air Transport, Flight International, 14—20 April 1993, p. 10
  37. ^ a b More than 45 years ..., Straight & Level, Flight International, 24—30 April 1996, p. 44
  38. ^ Mike Sessions – Looking on the Bright Side of Life, Airliner World, Key Publishing, Stamford, UK, March 2010, p. 48
  39. ^ a b World Airline Directory — British Air Ferries Ltd (BAF) ..., Flight International, 18 May 1972, p. 17
  40. ^ a b World Airline Directory — British Air Ferries Ltd (BAF) ..., Flight International, 22 April 1978, p. 1146
  41. ^ a b World Airline Directory — British Air Ferries (BAF) ..., Flight International, 31 March 1984, p. 825
  42. ^ a b World Airline Directory — British World Airlines (VF) ..., Flight International, 23—29 March 1994, p. 70
  43. ^ a b World Airline Directory — British World Airlines (VF/BWL) ..., Flight International, 18—24 March 1998, p. 58
  44. ^ British United Air Ferries at the Aviation Safety Network Database
  45. ^ Aviation Safety Network > ASN Aviation Safety Database > Operator index > United Kingdom > British United Air Ferries
  46. ^ ASN Aircraft accident description Bristol 170 Superfreighter 32 G-AMWA — Guernsey Airport (GCI)
  47. ^ British Air Ferries at the Aviation Safety Network Database
  48. ^ a b G-APIM 'Viscount Stephen Piercey' , Gatwick Aviation Society
  49. ^ ASN Aircraft accident description Vickers Viscount 806 G-APIM — Southend Municipal Airport (SEN)
  50. ^ British World Airlines at the Aviation Safety Network Database
  51. ^ a b ASN Aircraft accident description Vickers Viscount 813 G-OHOT — 7.5 km/4.7 mi southwest of Uttoxeter
  52. ^ Icing blamed for Viscount crash, Air Transport, Flight International, 9—15 March 1994, p. 12
  53. ^ Air Accidents Investigation Branch — Report No: 3/1995. Report on the accident to Vickers Viscount 813 G-OHOT near Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, on 25 February 1994
  54. ^ Ice and poor management hit Viscount, Air Transport, Flight International, 5—11 April 1995, p. 12

References[edit]

  • Eglin, Roger & Ritchie, Berry (1980). Fly me, I'm Freddie. London, UK: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-77746-7. 
  • "Flight International". Sutton, UK: Reed Business Information. ISSN 0015-3710.  (various backdated issues relating to British United Air ferries, 1963–1967)
  • Merton Jones, A. (1976). British Independent Airlines since 1946, Volume One. UK: Merseyside Aviation Society & LAAS International ISBN 0-902420-07-0. 
  • Dean, W.P. & O'Callaghan, M. (2008 [2nd printing]). The ATL-98 Carvair: A Comprehensive History of the Aircraft and All 21 Airframes (1: Corporate History – British United/British United Air Ferries, 2: Car-Ferry Evolution – British Air Ferries, pp. 21–30). Jefferson, N.C., USA: McFarland & Co. ISBN 978-0-7864-3670-5.  Check date values in: |date= (help); External link in |publisher= (help)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]