ATL.90 Accountant

The ATL Accountant was the only serious attempt by Aviation Traders to produce a completely new production aircraft. Developed out of a desire to replace the ever ageing fleet of British and American piston engined airliners that were considered to be slow, inefficient and which offered few comforts, this new Dart engined design would throw its hat into the ring in a determined effort to remedy this situation. It was in 1953 that the idea for a medium, feeder airliner was first proposed, with ATL’s design bureau at Stansted taking control of the initial stages of the project. However, work went relatively slowly and almost two years went by before the first of three proposed prototype fuselages was moved by road to the engineering facility at Southend. Indeed, the initial response to such an airliner was positive, especially on the other side of the Atlantic where such short range inter-city airliners had always been popular.

In its base form, a standard seating layout could accommodate 28 passengers in relative comfort with a range of 1,000 miles, while provisions were also made for both 12 seat ‘V.I.P.’ and 36 seat, high density arrangements, which could fly 1,800 and 600 miles respectively. Other specifications denoted that the Accountant could operate at 25,000ft at a speed of more than 250kts which was almost twice as high and as fast as the piston powered aircraft it sought to replace. Other flight characteristics were good too with a full flap stall occurring at speeds as low as 68kts while the MTOR (maximum take off run) was given as around 2700ft. Its over wing engine nacelle position also enabled short and robust landing gear to be fitted which would provide the aircraft with the ability to tackle rough or unmade landing strips. A very similar, engine nacelle placement was later employed on the extremely successful Avro (H.S.) 748 airliner.

On July 9th 1957, she took to the air for a 30 minute flight undergoing a series of tests that would continue for roughly a month. Then later in 1957, the aircraft took to the airshow circuit where to ATL’s dismay, she was met with interest ranging from complete indifference to a distinct disinterest in this offering which had now been relegated to nothing more than a curiosity, due no doubt to a number of new and more superior designs that were rolling out of the hangars of the more established aircraft manufacturers. Both Fokker and Handley Page had offered Dart engined aircraft that could match or provide slightly better performance figures than the Accountant, while at the same time, these aircraft had cabin layouts that could carry 30% more passengers.

Indeed, the success of the not too dissimilar Avro 748 which first flew in 1960, proved that there was a demand for such an aircraft, however, it would appear that ATL simply hadn’t capitalised on the opportunity or seriously pushed their prodect and rather than making any further attempts to develop this aircraft further, the project was instead shelved.

G-ATEL at SEN after being WFU in 1958

Other offerings had been suggested such as:

The ATL.92 and 93 – Military versions in the same vein as the Avro Andover development of the 748

The ATL.95 – A lengthened aircraft for 40+ passengers and…

The ATL.96 – A cargo aircraft with a swing nose (similar to the Carvair that was already under development)

Unfortunately, it would seem that by 1958, ATEL had instead chosen to concentrate all its efforts on Carvair conversions and thus the sole Accountant was effectively abandoned, having made its last flight on February 10th 1958. It was left to languish for two years at Southend before finally being broken up in February 1960.

“A rather sad picture of G-ATEL – the only ATL-90 Accountant – parked on the grass at SEN in 1960 after the engines had been removed and shipped back to Rolls Royce. This occurred just a few months before the airframe was scrapped by ATEL. It seems such a waste considering that the aircraft was only around two years old when this picture was taken.” – Peter Clark