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  • Writer's pictureroy blewett

Hawker Siddeley H.S.748 and H.S.780 Andover

Bismillah Airlines HS748 A748 S2-ADW
Photo by Shadman Samee of H.S.748-347 srs.2B S2-ADW of Bismillah Airlines at Cox's Bazar in June 2018 (licenced and cropped).

The Avro aircraft manufacturing business was established in 1910 by Edwin Alliott Verdon Roe and his brother, Humphrey. The company was a major producer of fighter aircraft for the Royal Flying Corps during World War I but by 1920 found itself in financial difficulties. Crossley Motors, in search of additional manufacturing capacity to build vehicles, acquired a majority holding and the aircraft business moved to a new site at New Hall Farm in Woodford. Crossley sold its stake to Armstrong Siddeley in 1928, whereupon E.A.V. Roe left the company to set up Saunders-Roe. Seven years later, Armstrong Siddeley merged with Hawker and Hawker Siddeley Aircraft was created. Avro remained a separately-managed subsidiary company at the Woodford site, where it specialised in the production of heavy bombers, leading ultimately to the turbojet-powered Vulcan nuclear strike aircraft.

In 1957, the British Government decided to cut significantly its investment in manned military aviation, a decision that was to have far-reaching consequences for the British aviation industry. Avro’s response was the 748, a small, twin-engined regional airliner designed to complement the larger Vickers Viscount. Its rugged design and rough short field performance meant it was able to exploit a niche in the market, and the aircraft sold well with production licensed in 1960 to Hindustan Aircraft Ltd. (HAL) in India, which set up a Transport Aircraft Division for the express purpose of building 748s. The Avro name disappeared in July 1963 when the company was absorbed into the parent, but was revived after BAe 146 production was moved to Woodford from Hatfield in 1993.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is now the only large-scale operator of the 748, using the aircraft for transport, communications, navigation training, photo-survey and as a trials platform. In 2012, the IAF selected the C295 as the 748 replacement, and “formalized the acquisiton” with Airbus in September 2021. (16 C295s will be built in Seville and delivered over a four-year period from “contract implementation”, to be followed by 40 C295s manufactured in India by Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. – the first ‘made in India’ aerospace project not to be awarded to HAL. It is therefore expected the 748 will remain in service with the IAF until around 2030.) A handful of 748s continue to fly commercially in Canada (where remaining flying hours are being husbanded carefully) and Bangladesh.

First flight: 24 Jun 60 (c/n 1534, G-APZV)

Production: 382, comprising 293 at Woodford, UK, and 89 at Kanpur, India

First delivery: 18 Jan 62, to Aerolíneas Argentinas (c/n 1539, LV-PIZ)

Last delivery: 24 Jan 89, to Makung International Airlines (c/n 1807, B-1773)

Variants: 748 srs.1 - initial production version powered by 2 Rolls-Royce Dart RDa.6 Mk.514 turboprops and with seating for up to 48 passengers (24 built, including 4 in India);

748 srs.2 - improved version with higher take-off weight, powered by Dart RDa.7 Mk.531s (150 built, including 65 in India; first flight 6 Nov 61);

748 srs.2A - srs.2 equipped with Dart RDa.7 Mk.532s (124 built, including 6 for the Royal Air Force as Andover CC.2 communications aircraft and 30 with Large Freight Door installed);

748 srs.2B - srs.2A with increased wing-span and Dart R.Da7 Mk.532-6 (33 built, including 3 with Large Freight Doors);

HAL 748M - Indian-developed version of srs.2 with large cargo door, powered by Dart RDa.7 Mk.536-2T turboprops (20 built, first flight 16 Feb 72; an additional 11 srs.2s were retrofitted with large cargo doors);

780 - re-engineered military transport version for the Royal Air Force, featuring revised rear fuselage incorporating cargo doors and loading ramp and ‘kneeling’ main undercarriage, powered by Dart Mk.201 turboprops (31 built as Andover C.1; first flight 9 Jul 65. 7 were subsequently converted to Andover E.3 for navaid calibration).

HS 748 survivors
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