748 G-ATEJ

Hawker Siddeley 748-222 Sr2A – c/n 1587

With Channel from Feb 1966 to Dec 1967

G-ATEJ was delivered to Southend on February 21st 1966 and thus became the very first of Channel’s 748s to enter service with the airline. While G-ATEH and EI had been ready for delivery as early as September 1965, the amount of work needed to sustain them both was currently not available at the time and so, this resulted in them both being leased out to other airlines. Therefore, after a few days crew training, Echo Juliet would fly the first H.S 748 flight for Channel on February 25th from Southend to both Jersey and Guernsey, with four passengers and a load of cargo on board, while the following day would see her departing for Hamburg on a business charter. She was kept busy during March with a flight between Southend and Rotterdam on the 1st, a B.K.S charter between Portsmouth and Bilbao on the 3rd and on the 6th she would take a trip to Portsmouth with a cabin full of VIPs and crew.

In fact, one of the main reasons for the purchase of these aircraft was their ability to operate from rough or grass airstrips such as Portsmouth where ultimately, Channel’s H.S 748s would mostly end up operating to and from and on the 13th, EJ flew the very first 748 service from this airfield. While she would still make a few trips from SEN to continental destinations including a Southend-Ostend service on the 18th, she would for the most, be confined to the Southend-Portsmouth-Channel Island route. During the summer, Echo Juliet would also be called upon to carry out a number of I.T charter trips to Barcelona on May 1st and Perpignan on the 6th, while Bordeaux, Rimini and Valencia also received inaugural 748 flights, most of which were flown by this particular aircraft.

However, on August 8th, G-ATEJ would become the first of the four 748s to receive some form of damage during their Channel careers and on August 8th, it was the turn of G-ATEJ which inadvertently struck a GPU while at Jersey, resulting in more than superficial damage to the aircraft. She was ferried back to Southend two days later and eventually returned to operations on the 22nd, flying the Southend-Le Bourget route. The following year would see a return to Portsmouth, although two new routes which included the Bournemouth-Channel Islands service and Castle Donington-Southend feeder route would also feature greatly in Echo Juliet’s schedule for 1967. However, on August 15th, two of of Channel’s 748s skidded off of the soaking wet, grass runway at Portsmouth causing considerable damage to both aircraft and as a consequence, this airfield fell out of favour and flights would more increasingly frequent Southampton instead, especially during poor weather.

Quite naturally, with two aircraft out of service, the remaining two 748s were left to pick up the pieces although a DC-3 was also reinstated to help make up any shortfall. Echo Juliet continued to fly with Channel until operating her last service from Ostend to Southend on November 29th 1967. She was temporarily withdrawn from service until December 13th when she headed off on lease to Midwest Aviation who later purchased the aircraft outright.


History of G-ATEJ

2/66 to 12/67

Channel Airways

12/67 to 11/69

Midwest Aviation as CF-TAX

11/69 to 3/75

Transair Ltd as C-GCZY (Leased to AVIATECA as TG-MAL from 8/74 to 2/75)

3/75 to 9/79

Air Ceylon as 4R-ACR

9/79 to ?/98

Sri Lankan Air Force as CR831


WFU and stored at Ratmalana, Sri Lanka during 1998

Currently on display at the Sri Lankan Air Force Museum in fictitious colours


Do you have any interesting snippets of information about this aircraft or indeed, any pictures that you would like to share? If so, then please contact us on saadinfomail@gmail.com

Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.