MIAMI – Today in Aviation, the first Fokker F27 (PH-NIV) took to the skies in 1955. The turboprop went on to become one of the most successful airliners to come out of Europe with 586 examples built before production ended in 1987.

Following the end of the Second World War, Dutch manufacturer Fokker, along with numerous other plane makers, began to look at designing an aircraft to replace the Douglas DC-3. Unlike some Fokker approached existing DC-3 operators to look at their requirements.

Air UK inherited a fleet of ten Fokker F27s when the airline was created following the merger of Air Anglia and British Island Airways. (Photo: Gary Watt (GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html or GFDL 1.2 http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html), via Wikimedia Commons)

The ‘Friendship’


A number of designs and configurations were put forward. Finally, a high-wing, pressurized aircraft, powered by two Rolls-Royce Dart engines, capable of carrying 32 passengers was chosen. The program was initially dubbed the P275. By the time the type went into production, it had been renamed the F27 ‘Friendship.’

Four prototypes were built for the test program. Two were flyable examples and two were used for static and fatigue testing.

In 1956 Fokker signed a licensing deal with US manufacturer Fairchild to build the F27 in the USA. The first US-built aircraft flew on April 12, 1958. Fairchild also went on to develop a stretched version known as the FH-227. A total of 207 examples of the American variant were built. 

The US-built variant would beat the Fokker F27 into revenue service when West Coast Airlines (WC) introduced the type in September 1958. Irish flag-carrier Aer Lingus (EI) became the launch customer for the European variant, receiving its first two examples in November.


Featured image: Fokker F27 prototype PH-NIV seen a few days prior to its maiden flight. (Photo: Harry Pot / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)