MIAMI – Today in Aviation celebrates the maiden flight of the first prototype of the Short 330 at Sydenham on August 22, 1974. The Short 330 was developed by Short Brothers of Belfast from its earlier Short SC.7 Skyvan STOL utility transport.

The Short 330 (also SD3-30) was a small turboprop aircraft intended as a short-range regional and commuter airliner. It had been designed to take advantage of US regulations that allowed commuter airlines to use aircraft carrying up to 30 passengers, thereby replacing smaller types such as the Beechcraft Model 99 and the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter.

According to the Ulster Aviation Society, the type made its public debut at Farnborough two weeks after its maiden flight.

The first orders were received from Command Airways of New York and Canadian operator Time Air. Both carriers would benefit from the aircraft’s quite engines and overall low maintenance costs. The 330 entered service with the Canadian airline in 1976. Other airlines soon followed suit.

Henson Airlines Short 330 at Baltimore September 11, 1983. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Design and Production of the Short 330


The design of the Short 330 was finished in the early part of 1973. The 330 had a longer wingspan and fuselage than the Skyvan while retaining the Skyvan’s square-shaped fuselage cross-section. This allowed it to carry up to 30 passengers while retaining good short field characteristics.

Another interesting design characteristic is that the Short 330 was unusual in having all of its fuel contained in tanks located directly above the ceiling of the passenger cabin.

The aircraft was also designed two separate cockpit doors for the Pilot and co-Pilot to access from inside the cabin.

Regarding the cabin, it was the result of a collaboration with Boeing engineers who modeled the interior space, fittings, and decor after larger airliners.

The 330, although slower than most of its pressurized competition, became known for being comfortable, quiet, and rugged. The quiet running of the Pratt & Whitney PT6A-45R was largely due to an efficient reduction gearbox.

Production of the Short 330 ended in 1992 with a total of 141 being built, including freighter and military versions. The 330’s design was later refined and heavily modified, resulting in the Short 360.


Featured image: the Short 330 in Minneapolis on September 9, 1983. Photo: Wiki Commons.