After only four years from acquiring the DC-8s in 1962 and with the Vickers and Fokker F27s still in their fleet, Philippine Airlines gave its passengers another surprise. On May 4, 1966, PAL introduced the BAC1-11 series 400 on major domestic routes to Cebu, Davao, and Bacolod. Providing both comfort and speed, the twin-engine T-tail jets also flew to Hong Kong, Taipei, and Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh). PAL had up to 4 BAC1-11.
By 1971, PAL needed increased passenger capacity and the BAC1-11-500 stretched up to an additional 4.22 meters. PAL ordered the series 500 to replace the shorter 400 series. Delivery started in October 1971. It became the primary domestic workhorse of PAL. These were eventually replaced by the Boeing 737-300 in 1989.
History of the BAC 1-11
The British Aircraft Corporation BAC1-11 (or BAC One-Eleven) was originally conceived by Hunting Aircraft as the 30-seat Hunting H107 although a full prototype was never created.
When Luton-based Hunting Aircraft were merged as part of British Aircraft Corporation in 1960, the former Vickers Armstrongs factory at Brooklands, Weybridge were already working on the BAC VC7 project, a 140-seat development of their successful VC10. Having identified the H107 as 'having merit', BAC decided to merge the projects under the heading of BAC107. Market research suggested that at 59-seats, the BAC107 was still going to be too small and much of the design data was re-worked into what emerged as the 80-seater BAC1-11. The main design development went to the Team in Surrey, whilst production of the prototypes was undertaken at Hurn, (now Bournemouth Airport).
Although it was immediately clear that the BAC1-11 would hold several important technological advantages against the likes of the Douglas DC9, the authorities in the United States still withheld their permission for US-based airlines to purchase foreign aircraft.
Confidence remained high, however, with further pre-orders arriving almost weekly, and in July 1963 American Airlines (who had finally broken the restrictions) added another 15 aircraft to their requirement, taking their total order to 60. With pre-launch orders already building steadily, the BAC1-11 Series 200 prototype (G-ASHG) flew for the first time from Hurn on 20th August 1963.
Despite the tragic loss of the prototype in a crash on 22nd October 1963 (during stall testing), full development continued and saw the introduction of the then-revolutionary several ‘stick-shakers and pushers’ on the BAC1-11’s control systems as well as several additional innovations in airline design.
Unlike other aircraft entering the market, the BAC1-11 was not designed for any specific sector of the airline market and certainly not with one single airline in mind. This made the aircraft very flexible and in fact, it was anticipated that sales orders may reach or even exceed 400 aircraft.
Finally, the BAC1-11 was certified for passenger service and the first customer handover (to BUA with G-ASJI) took place on 22nd January 1965. This was followed in July 1965 by the introduction of the BAC1-11 Series 400, primarily aimed at the US market.
A stretched BAC1-11 Series 500 (or Super One-Eleven) flew on 30th June 1967 and increased the passenger capacity from 79 to 119 passengers, making the aircraft even more cost-effective and popular on European Inter-City routes, as well as with the new package holiday operators.
The BAC1-11 510ED version was primarily operated by British European Airways (BEA) although these aircraft were subsequently operated by several 'Tour Airlines' after they retire from BEA service.
The BAC1-11 Series 475 had been optimized for hot and high/short airfield operations (combining a BAC1-11 Series 400 fuselage with a Series 500 wing) and it flew on 27th August 1970. Sadly, the market was changing and other manufacturers were developing newer and more competitive designs so in the end only 10 aircraft were sold.
In 1973, a BAC1-11 Series 201 was purchased from British Caledonian and transferred to the RAoyal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Blind Landing Experimental Unit at Thurleigh (as XX105). This aircraft was involved in numerous development flights for what we now commonly refer to as ILS, or Instrument Landing System.
In 1977, BAC merged with the Hawker Siddeley Group to form British Aerospace (BAe) and a BAC1-11 Series 800 was proposed. It would accommodate some 150 passengers in a 'mixed-class layout' and although it looked promising for a while, its fate was sealed with the development of a ‘European Competitor’ to the ubiquitous U.S. short/medium range airliners and it did not progress to the design stage.
The BAC2-11 (Two-Eleven) and BAC3-11 (Three-Eleven) were British airliner studies proposed by the BAC in the late 1960s although none made it to the prototype stage.
A licensing arrangement with Romania had been planned for some time and it was intended that as many as 80 BAC1-11s would be built. The first flight of a Rombac 1-11 (YR-BRA) was on 18th September 1982 and production continued until the 9th, and the last ever new production 1-11 (YR-BRI) took to the air in April 1989. Sadly, the Rombac project collapsed shortly afterward due to the unstable political situation in Romania.
UK production of the BAC1-11 ended in 1984, with a full total of 244 aircraft, which includes the 9 complete and 2 unfinished Romanian aircraft.
- Philippine Airlines 75 Years commemorative book