About Philippine Airlines' Vickers Viscount in 1957 - Mond Aviation Shop

About Philippine Airlines' Vickers Viscount in 1957

In 1957, Philippine Airlines placed an order for two of the world's most successful commercial transport turboprops during that time, the Vickers Viscount 784. The first arrived in May, and it replaced the Convair 340 on the Manila - Hong Kong route.

The Vickers-Armstrong Viscount had its origins as the Brabazon Committee’s Type IIB. When introduced, it was a complete revolution on BEA’s European and domestic routes, compared with the Douglas DC-3s that it replaced.

Initially specified by the Brabazon Committee with only 24 seats, by the time of the prototype Vickers Viscount 630 (G-AHRF) first flight, on 16th July 1948, its capacity had been increased to 32 passengers. The fuselage length of the prototype was 74ft 6in.

A second prototype (VX217), designated the Vickers Viscount Type 663, was built powered by two Rolls-Royce Tay jet engines. This aircraft served as a test-bed for the Tay and was subsequently operated by Boulton Paul Aircraft, developing powered flight controls systems in support of the development of the Vickers Valiant.

Discussions with British European Airways and the availability of more powerful versions of the Rolls-Royce Dart engine resulted in the definition of the Vickers Viscount Type 700 production aircraft. BEA ordered 26 Vickers Viscount Type 701 with 47 to 53 seats. The increased seat capacity required an 88-inch increase in fuselage length to 81ft 10in. A single prototype of the Vickers Viscount Type 700 was built, (G-AMAV) flying on 28th August 1950.

The first production Vickers Viscount Type 701 (G-ALWE) flew in August 1952, entering full passenger service on 18th April 1953. The type was an immediate success both in terms of economics, and passenger appeal and it was sold all over the world. It was popular not least for its superb passenger windows and smooth ride.

The proven success of the type in BEA service led to orders from Air France, Aer Lingus and Trans-Australian Airlines (TAA). These were followed by key orders for 15 aircraft for Trans-Canada Airlines and 60 aircraft for Capital Airlines. Ultimately, 147 of the 445 Vickers Viscounts sold were exported to the North American market.

This was followed by the Vickers Viscount Type 800, which was stretched to by a further 46 inches to 85ft 8in to provide a capacity of 57 - 65 seats, dependent upon configuration. The rear bulkhead was also moved aft, resulting in an overall increase in the internal cabin length of no less than 111 inches.

Once again, the lead customer was BEA, whose variant was designated as the Vickers Viscount Type 802. The first Vickers Viscount Type 802 (G-AOJA), flew at Weybridge on 17th July 1956. The Vickers Viscount Type 800 can readily be identified by an extra pair of passenger windows on each side, ahead of the plane of the propellers.

At its peak, BEA operated a fleet of no less than 77 Vickers Viscounts of various marques, their popularity and financial success contributing to sales of the type in the export market. Ultimately, more than 60 operators, in 40 countries purchased the type.

The Vickers Viscount Type 810 introduced a new variant of the Rolls-Royce Dart engine, the 1,990 ehp Dart 525. This provided improved 'hot and high' take-off performance which allowed an increase in maximum gross weight. Although not produced in the same numbers as the Vickers Viscount Type 700 series, additional export sales resulted to airlines such as All Nippon Airways, Cubana, Ghana Airways, Pakistan International, Lufthansa and VASP.

The success of the type resulted in Vickers-Armstrong opening a second production line at its Hurn Airport factory, to supplement production at their Weybridge site. The Hurn factory had previously been used for the production of the Vickers Varsity.

Overall production comprised three prototypes (one Vickers Viscount Type 630 (G-AMRF), one Rolls-Royce Tay-powered Vickers Viscount (VX217) and one prototype Vickers Viscount 700 (G-AMAV) plus some 445 production aircraft.

The Vickers Viscount Type 810 demonstrator (G-AOYV) was subsequently adapted and fitted with a icing spray rig to aid fin de-icing tests, in support of the development of the Vickers Vanguard.

The last Viscount passenger service in Britain was flown in April 1996.

Source: https://www.baesystems.com/en/heritage/vickers-viscount

Photo: Pilipinas Retrostalgia

Back to blog