September 30, 2022
8/18/1967: First Flight of the Handley Page Jetstream
History

8/18/1967: First Flight of the Handley Page Jetstream

DALLAS – Today in Aviation, The prototype Handley Page HP137′ Jetstream’ took off on its maiden flight from Radlett Airfield, Hertfordshire, in 1967.

The HP137 had been conceived in the 1960s by the British manufacturer as a 12-20 seat business and feeder aircraft. By its first flight, it had already received orders for 160 airframes.

Management believed that the ‘Jetstream,’ with its pressurized cabin, improved range, higher speed, and payload than its rivals, would be critical to the company’s survival. Sadly, HP underestimated the development costs of the aircraft and, in 1969, was forced to file for voluntary liquidation.

Front cover of the Handley Page Jetstream sales brochure from 1968. Photo: PSParrot from EnglandCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

British Aerospace Variants


Scottish Aviation, who had produced the aircraft’s wings at Prestwick (PIK), continued production of the airframe. Some 70 units were delivered until 1976, when production ceased. The manufacturer then became part of British Aerospace (BAe) following the merger of British Aircraft Corporation and Hawker Siddeley in January 1968.

BAe developed the airliner into the 18-seat Jetstream 31/32 (J31/J32), which first flew on March 28, 1980. Its larger (29-seat) sibling, the Jetstream 41 (J41), took to the air on September 25, 1991.

The prototype J41 after being rolled out at Prestwick. Photo: BAe Systems.

Pilots Perspective


Airways contributor and Commercial Pilot Chris Smith explained what it was like to fly the type, “The Jetstream family was fun to fly but also rather quirky too. The smaller J31 and J32 variants had analog instrumentation on the flight deck. The more modern J41, on the other hand, made use of more modern electronic displays.”

“The J41 had a unique feature in that the pilot’s checklist for normal operations was a talking version. Following a response being called by a pilot, a switch allowed the other pilot to advance the checklist to the next checklist item, which was read aloud by a recorded Scottish voice. Alternatively, the item could be skipped and completed at the end.”

“During a turnaround, the propellers would need to be manually rotated a few cycles. An onlooker would be forgiven for thinking the pilot is meticulously inspecting the blades instead.”

UK regional carrier Eastern Airways is the world’s largest operator of the J41. Photo: Ronnie RobertsonCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Passengers have a relatively noisy ride compared to many other turboprops, and with no overhead locker storage, the type had its fair share of passengers who endured the aircraft at best. The main landing gear was also unforgiving in terms of assisting smooth landings, and touching down smoothly on the Jetstream was an art.”

“The type eventually migrated in later years to exotic yet harsh operating environments, such as Nepal, a testament to its toughness and adaptability. After flying the J41 for around 800 hours, I was pleased to call it my first commercial type.”


Featured Image: Birmingham European Airways (VB) Jetstream 31 (G-CBEA). Photo: Rob HodgkinsCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

editor
Writer, aviation fanatic, and Airways European Deputy Editor, Lee is a plant geek and part-time Flight Attendant for a UK-based airline. Based in Liverpool, United Kingdom.

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