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BAF acquisition of British Airways Viscount 800s.

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BAF acquisition of British Airways Viscount 800s.

Old 10th Dec 2018, 13:12
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Thank you WHBM - difficult to disagree with your summary of the BAS/BEA relationship. More digression but I understand Northeast also provided a Trident for the LHR-ABZ route at one point and operated a few European flights from Heathrow, Klagenfurt and Biarritz IIRC. One wonders if these were BEA routes contracted to their 'child' or Northeast's own ??

I have it on good authority that a Cambrian aircraft - a 1-11, I think - only visited LBA once, on a football charter. However, I have also heard that the Cambrian Viscounts also underwent maintenance at Northeast's LBA hangar, as well as at Cardiff. Who knows for sure ? Forty-plus years ago !

It would be interesting to know if any Viscount pilots remained with the aircraft from Cambrian/Northeast, through to BA and onward to BAF/BWA. I can imagine there might have been significant redundancies once the fleet was parked at Cardiff as I don't think they were replaced immediately. This time also coincided with BA withdrawing from several domestic routes.
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Old 11th Dec 2018, 04:37
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My memory of names is bit thin, but yes quite a few ex BA pilots came across to BAF. Most were aged 55 so had taken redundancy/retirement from BA. BAF had become an ad-hoc charter leasing company & did their own holiday flights. Hence some went off to Libya where HF was a requirement. BAF also did the Shell contract Aberdeen to Sumburgh for quite a few years. Rwy 33 with a slight tail wind on base leg was kind of fun.
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Old 11th Dec 2018, 17:35
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For anyone who has access to Propliner magazine, the activities of BAF and their Viscounts and Heralds are recorded in some detail in their ‘Independents’ section.
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Old 12th Dec 2018, 00:10
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The story of how Cambrian and BKS came under BEA control is told in A history of Cambrian Airways by TG Staddon. It also details CS Viscount operations.
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Old 17th Dec 2018, 19:03
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The OP asked "why did BAF buy the Viscounts?"

Good question; maybe Mike Keegan had his eyes on them before the purchase suddenly became a matter on necessity, maybe not.

At the time (late '79, early '80) BAF had an ACMI-type contract to operate 4 Heralds in Algeria, They were providing all internal commercial services for Air Algerie, the Air Force having decided to stop doing that.

The contract stipulated that BAF would operate a schedule provided by AA, and supply all the required crews, maintenance staff, other support staff, parts, etc etc. AA paid for all fuel uplifts and landing fees, and provided space in the open at Algiers, later at Ghardaia, for maintenance. They also supplied cabin staff, whom BAF had to train to their operations manual requirements.

The contract was rather onerous, perhaps because it was in French. AA paid per sector flown. If a flight was cancelled by them they paid a cancellation charge. But if BAF had to cancel for any reason whatsoever, they paid nothing. So if there was not a good load, the cabin staff would fail to appear and BAF had to cancel the flight. Simple, eh? There were lots of other contractual problems as well.

But the Herald's performance at hot 'n high airfields was the main problem. On flights from Tamanrasset in the deep South, which was (AFAIR) 6,000 ft ASL, the uplift was occasionally restricted to 3 or 4 passengers and baggage.

So the Algerians eventually said they would terminate unless BAF found a better aircraft. A meeting took place at HQ in Southend of Mike K, Jeremy K , the person in charge in Algerie (flown back for the purpose) and the Ops Manager. There was no discussion; Mike said he understood the problem, had a solution, and the meeting would reconvene in the evening. And off he went, and about 10 minutes later his private twin (Cessna 310? I forget) took off, with only him on board.

When the meeting reconvened he was already back. He announced that he had been to Heathrow, called in a favour from an old friend he had helped in the past, and had bought the entire BA Viscount fleet, then parked at Cardiff, lock, stock and barrel. The price was astonishingly low, and was for the airframes and engines as they stood. There was a separate agreement that BA would retain and store all the spares, including several engines. in their inventory at that time, so that BAF could collect what was needed but only when needed, and pay the original cost price at the time of collection. It's a pity that Mike K isn't around to negotiate Brexit. The flyable airframes would be brought by BA up to ferry capability one by one, and collected by BAF one by one to, be flown to SEN. "What about the wingspars" was the immediate question, but he already had that worked out; from the whole fleet he would cannibalise at least 5 aircraft with reasonable spar lives remaining.

The first two aircraft went to Libya; the financial lure was irrestistable, in that the monthly rent just about matched the aircraft's purchase cost, and the refurb costs were about the same. I don't know what happened re Algeria, I had quit by then.

Later ones went on the market asap for tour operator charters. Palma, in particular, flight planning to Nice and then diverting to Palma, so as not to lose any seats. (Those from the old school of aviation will understand that. The FOI was strangely blind.)

There's an awful lot more to it than that,of course, but that's the bones of the reply to the question "Why did BAF buy Viscounts?".

As a postscript; when the first aircraft was collected, Mike was there, operating as co-pilot. The story goes (ie this is hearsay) that the Chief Engineer was checking the documentation very carefully, and suddenly said "Hang on, the radio serials are not the ones in the inventory". "Shut yer f*****g mouth" said Mike, who had spotted that the radios looked new, modern, even. (He tended to talk that way.) On the flight back he guessed that the programme of changeover to modern radios was in progress, the Viscounts were in the programme, and no-one had told maintenance not to bother. If this really happened, the value of the new radios would have been close to the price of the complete airframe..

Last edited by old,not bold; 18th Dec 2018 at 11:22.
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Old 17th Dec 2018, 19:19
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My brother beleives it may have been around late 81 while down at ramsgate harbour a viscount was doing circuits it later turned out to be a Baf viscount out of Southend was this a regular route I know virgin was doing this circuit with there 340 but had to stop using manston due to under carriage problems when taxing at manston
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Old 18th Dec 2018, 21:21
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At the time of BAF’s acquisition of the BA Viscounts they obviously wanted trained crews for them and, as BA were a bit awash with pilots at the time, did a deal with BA where BA Pilots were offered half pay stand-down to go to BAF and BAF would pay the other half.

I was interested so went to Southend for an interview with the Chief Pilot. His name is lost to me in the mists of time but I believe he was an ex navy man, John something or other. He said that as well as the Algeria contract, they had a contract for two Viscounts to go to New Zealand. I believe that one Viscount was even ferried part way there before the contract fell through for some reason. Someone perhaps knows more details of that. As my last Viscount flight was January 1982, this was probably 1981.

Anyway I didn’t go through with it and went to the Budgie instead.




Last edited by hector; 18th Dec 2018 at 21:25. Reason: Grammar
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Old 18th Dec 2018, 21:49
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Originally Posted by old,not bold View Post
At the time (late '79, early '80) BAF had an ACMI-type contract to operate 4 Heralds in Algeria,
Propliner magazine back in the 1980s had a fascinating extended article by a BAF Herald pilot of a lengthy charter they did to support the Paris-Dakar rally across the Sahara, much being Algeria, which took a couple of weeks, through various obscure airports and desert strips, with some dicey moments. They did a range of supply and personnel ferrying, medevacs, etc as required by the day. Their background in Algerian Herald operations must have helped get the work. If that is your sort of thing, it must have been a great flight.

He announced that he had been to Heathrow, called in a favour from an old friend he had helped in the past, and had bought the entire BA Viscount fleet
Mike Keegan had been the "K" in founding BKS, as described above, who later concentrated at Leeds/Newcastle but originally were based at Southend. After BEA bought them out he made a sufficient fuss about them still having his K in the airline name that there had to be a complete rebranding of the company to Northeast. So it's a bit of a surprise he still had favours to call in over at BA HQ.
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Old 19th Dec 2018, 07:01
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BAF Acquision of British Airways Viscount 800

When I returned to the British Airway Viscount 802 fleet at Glasgow in 1979 it was manned by a mixture of Cambrian,North East and BA Pilots who operated the remaining uk Viscount routes included some former Cambrian and North East routes. From that time and for the next two years the only Viscount 806 aircraft I saw around the routes belonged to BAF.
Over the years the Cambrian and North East Pilots moved to other BA fleets........
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Old 19th Dec 2018, 07:31
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Interesting-flight planning to Nice when going to Palma. I believe Monarch might have done that much more recently ( but some years ago) when operating A321s to Ovda- planning the return to Brussels and then continuing to Luton when fuel was okay to do that.

Would such a practice be frowned on today?
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Old 19th Dec 2018, 14:19
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I think you’all find the practice was frowned on when BAF did it......amazing how blind an FOI could be.
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Old 19th Dec 2018, 15:44
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Originally Posted by Krakatoa View Post
When I returned to the British Airway Viscount 802 fleet at Glasgow in 1979 it was manned by a mixture of Cambrian,North East and BA Pilots who operated the remaining uk Viscount routes included some former Cambrian and North East routes. From that time and for the next two years the only Viscount 806 aircraft I saw around the routes belonged to BAF.
Over the years the Cambrian and North East Pilots moved to other BA fleets........
Northeast Airlines or just Northeast but never North East :-)

Sorry I just had to do excuse me 😉
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Old 19th Dec 2018, 16:21
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Fascinating stories everyone. Thankyou all again. I admit I'd forgotten I started this thread. The acquisition tale reminds me of how Sir Bishop got his hands on the SAA Viscounts for BMA - right place, right time. And enough brass.
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Old 19th Dec 2018, 16:40
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Interesting-flight planning to Nice when going to Palma. I believe Monarch might have done that much more recently ( but some years ago) when operating A321s to Ovda- planning the return to Brussels and then continuing to Luton when fuel was okay to do that.

Would such a practice be frowned on today?
I think you’all find the practice was frowned on when BAF did it......amazing how blind an FOI could be.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with in-flight refiling of a flight plan to a further destination. It is a common, perfectly legal practice. It is all based on the percentage of contingency fuel required to be carried. On a long flight this can be quite large and put the aircraft over its max take-off mass, so you file a flightplan to a nearer destination where the contingency fuel requirement is lower so you are below max T/O mass. Once in the air and nearing the filed destination you replan to carry on to your intended destination. Because the remaining distance to go is much shorter the contingency fuel requirement is now much less so the contingency you loaded for the nearer "destination" is now enough to carry on to your intended destination.
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Old 20th Dec 2018, 13:08
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Originally Posted by old,not bold View Post
I think you’all find the practice was frowned on when BAF did it....
Very straightforward and standard. For example, Pan Am did it on the first New York to Tokyo nonstops, filing to Anchorage and then refiling for Tokyo when approaching there and recalculating the reserves were adequate from that point onward.
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Old 20th Dec 2018, 18:55
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There is absolutely nothing wrong with in-flight refiling of a flight plan to any further destination
There is when you arrive at the "diversion" destination with insufficient fuel to divert again if necessary. And plan to do this once a week for the whole season. As was done by BAF.
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Old 20th Dec 2018, 20:45
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I don't understand why, re flight planning, anyone has a problem.

i suspect it is "de riguer" for some of the longer sectors that airlines operate nowadays.

i was quite happy to do it on the BA DC10, and other airplanes, and we were mere amateurs in long sector operations compared to those these days.

It is about thinking which, if you read some of the posts on this thread, is severely lacking.

i suspect that the keyboard warriors (who seem to now lurk here) have not a clue about how airplanes operate.
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Old 21st Dec 2018, 10:22
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In 1983 HK Aircraft Engineering Co extracted 4 of the CAAC V.843 and most of their Darts. These had been the only 8-engined Viscounts, 100% spares were bought as was their experience of USSR-types. Some were NTSN, the a/c were low time, too.
HAECO overhauled them to full CAA Requirements, so not quick or cheap. I showed up at Southend, uttered a price per each, was laughed at and told the whole ex-BA purchase had been less. They didn't even want NTSN engines, enough came in the BA deal.

We moved most engines to US for F-27, the a/c to Indonesia on HP.
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Old 21st Dec 2018, 11:53
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The CAAC Viscounts were the last built, they were assembled at Hurn alongside the first One-Elevens.

The other two of the half-dozen were retained by the Chinese Air Force, but moved on to join the rest in Indonesia later when the Air Force got their own Tridents.

I showed up at Southend, uttered a price per each, was laughed at and told the whole ex-BA purchase had been less
Heard a similar story about Mike Bishop going to South African Airways, with his Chief Engineer and enough US Dollars wired over to cover the costs of buying the best recently retired one for British Midland, and coming home with the whole fleet and all the spares - and change.

Last edited by WHBM; 21st Dec 2018 at 12:06.
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Old 21st Dec 2018, 15:44
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And a simulator!
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