Viscount G-BFZL

Vickers 816 Viscount – c/n 435

With BAF from Feb 1989 to Apr 1997

While Viscount G-BFZL would not be the last of her type to join BAF, she was certainly the youngest. Built just before the beginning of the ’60s, she then went on to serve with a number of corporate entities and air forces, all of whom had kept her in excellent condition. In fact, apart from a 6 year stint with TAA she saw little in the way of airline service until she finally arrived back in the UK and was put to work with British Midland although during this period, she would for the most, spend her time leased to Manx on their Isle of Man routes. She later put in an appearance at Southend on November 11th 1988, still in Manx colours and then went on to spend a few months with SEN based Baltic before once more departing for East Midlands at the end of January 1989.

However, it would take just over a week before she was back at SEN, this time on lease to BAF who would in the coming years, purchase the aircraftmanx-visc-g-bfzl from her owner British Aerospace. She didn’t seem to do much during 1989 and mostly sat outside the Jadepoint facility with either props or engines missing for a number of months until November, when she was finally dragged into the hangar for maintenance and refinishing. By April of the following year, she was sub-leased back to Manx who used her for 6 weeks before returning her to SEN and by the last week of May, she had entered service with BAF in a modified, Manx colour scheme that this aircraft alone would carry while operating for this airline.

During 1990, she was seen both in Ireland (Dublin – 9/90), on the Continent and even at some of the more distant, Mediterranean destinations (Malta – 7/90) mostly in a passenger configuration. However, by the end of the summer season, she had turned to freighting and was seen in Manchester and Stuttgart during October with no seats and cargo nets clearly visible through the windows. As such, it would appear that from 1991 onwards, much of her work would more increasingly involve cargo operations, much of this taking place within the UK, especially on the popular newspaper runs to Scotland where she was regularly seen. However in May 1992, she would be wfu and would not fly again until May 4th 1993.

With the reformation of BAF into British World in 1993, Zulu Lima was reactivated and would be the only one of two Viscounts out of the remaining ten aircraft to receive Viscount G-BFZLathe extremely smart, burgundy and white, ‘Leaping Lion’ livery. With half of the remaining Viscount fleet having gone to Parcel Force for the duration, BAF was left with five aircraft, three of which were needed in Scotland for the Shell oil contract route, so it was left to G-BFZL and G-OHOT to share the spoils of any ad-hoc charter work that may come BAF’s way. In fact, it wasn’t long before ZL was called upon to assist the other Parcel Force Viscounts, which she did on a temporary basis as and when the need arose.

By the spring of 1996, BAF were down to seven Viscounts. ATR’s had replaced the three old timers on the oil charter contract and the post office leases were also rapidly coming to a swift end. However, this number was almost further reduced to six in March when Zulu Lima was taxiing out of Edinburgh and inadvertently experienced a runway excursion into soft ground, this resulting in damage to two engines and one of its main gear struts. Thankfully though, the damage was not too serious and the aircraft was quickly returned to service. While Viscount numbers had fallen further still by the summer, as unfortunate as it may have been, the end for the other Viscounts was slowly drawing near and as a final bow to this aircraft’s almost 36 years of uninterrupted services at Southend and 15 years of service with BAF, a number of farewell fly pasts would be flown by G-BFZL and G-APEY.

So, on June 2nd 1996, she would revert to her passenger roll and take a group of Viscount enthusiasts on a jaunt around the South East of England, making a fast run over the runway at Heathrow before heading back to Southend. She would then again resume her freighting duties, many of which would see her filling in on the Coventry to Glasgow/Edinburgh route for Parcel Force. Sadly though, Zulu Lima’s service life was coming to a swift end and on Christmas Eve of 1996, she made her last flight for BAF on a flight from Edinburgh to Southend. It would be another 4 months before she would fly again, this time, on her delivery flight to Helijet Aviation in Johannesburg, South Africa.


History of G-BFZL

5/60 to 8/64

Union Carbide & Carbon Corp as N40N

8/64 to 11/69

Royal Australian Air Force as A6-435

11/69 to 12/69

Alda Corp as N40NA

12/69 to 9/70

Jet Air Australia as VH-EQP

9/70 to 6/71

Gates Aviation Turbo Prop Sales

6/71 to 9/78

Sultan of Oman’s Air Force as 501

9/78 to 5/86

British Midland as G-BFZL

5/86 to 2/89

British Aerospace

2/89 to 4/97


4/97 to 4/98

Helijet Aviation

4/98 to 11/02

Planes R Us as ZS-NNI

11/02 to 4/03

Trans International Air (Re-reg to 9Q-CGL 2/03)


Damaged during three engined take off attempt – Bondo, Democratic Republic of the Congo

(Derelict airframe still extant as of 2017 although it has been thoroughly stripped of anything useful by the locals )


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