British European Airways

Operated from Jan 1946 to Mar 1974

Main Base – Croydon, Northolt & London (Heathrow)

Founder/Director – A Crown Corporation

Easily the biggest name in British aviation during the post war era, B.E.A. initially emerged as a division of B.O.A.C. From 1946 onwards, the remit of each airline was established with B.E.A. being given the task of flying all domestic, European, North African and Middle Eastern routes while B.O.A.C would concentrate on destinations that were further afield. Different fleets were also built up accordingly with B.E.A. operating mostly small and medium types with most of the larger equipment being summarily handed over to B.O.A.C. Needless to say that it didn’t take long for B.E.A. to establish a huge network of domestic routes to almost every major city across the U.K. which operated successfully even into the British Airways era. During the late ’60s and early ’70s, B.E.A. went on to swallow up a good number of former independents and on March 31st 1974, the entire organisation including B.O.A.C. was merged under the banner of British Airways.

While B.E.A. rarely operated from SEN as such, the airport would receive a good number of visits which came in fits and starts. The early ’50s saw some of the airline’s earliest equipment coming and going from ATEL in the form of Bristol Freighters while a good number of Vikings would pass through too, although by this time they had already been sold on to other companies and were simply visiting SEN to undergo pre-delivery maintenance and checks before being despatched to their new owners. The late ’50s and early ’60s also witnessed a glut of diversions when on more than one occasion a large number of DC-3s and Viscounts offloaded at Southend due to their London bases being fogged in. Indeed on April 1st 1957, there was one recorded operational visit made to the airport by Viscount G-ANHE, this also being the first of the type to visit SEN.

It wasn’t until February 1965 that another B.E.A. type would reveal itself when several Argosies turned up to begin the collection and subsequent distribution of scissor lifts or ‘Hylo’ loaders as they were known from ATEL. On the 12th of this month, Argosy G-ASXL arrived for loading trials which were successfully completed after which the next three months would witness these aircraft occasionally arriving to load this equipment that was then summarily flown to B.E.A.’s cargo bases around the UK, the Channel Islands and to some of their key bases European. In the meantime, B.E.A. rotor craft had also begun to frequent the airport, the most common type being the Sikorsky S-61. These helicopters appeared between January and August 1965 and while the first arrival on January 8th was know to involve the trial of a prospective, yet ultimately doomed shuttle service, the exact reason for the later visits remains unknown.

One of the last major types to visit SEN were B.E.A.’s Vanguards, the first of which arrived at the airport in October 1968. With B.E.A. having now more or less equipped itself with jets, its larger turboprops were seen as being superfluous on its passenger routes. Thus the decision was taken to convert more or less the entire remaining Vanguard fleet into Merchantman freighters. ATEL already had plenty of experience with such work and over the winter of 1968/69, G-APEM underwent modification which included amongst other things, the removal of her cabin fixtures and fittings, the skinning of the passenger windows, the strengthening of the floor and the fitting of a large cargo door in the port side of the aircraft. One further Vanguard (G-APEO) would be modified at SEN during 1969/70, while the rest of the fleet would be converted at Heathrow using kits supplied by ATEL.


B.E.A fleet from 1950 to 1974

(Due to the vast number of aircraft that were in service with B.E.A, only those aircraft that were known to have visited SEN have been listed)

Bristol 170 Freighter

G-AICS*– 9/50 to 4/57

Sold to Silver City

Douglas DC-3

G-AGJZ*– 8/46 to 3/60

Sold to Field Aircraft Services

G-AGZD*– 8/46 to 7/60

Sold to Channel Airways

G-AJIA*– 2/47 to 3/61

Sold to Air Mali as TZ-ABC

G-ALTT*– 6/49 to 6/62

Sold to Gibraltar Airways

G-ALXK*– 3/50 to 7/61

Sold to North-South Airlines

G-ALXL*– 2/50 to 4/62

Sold to Cambrian

G-AMDB*– 8/50 to 3/62

Dart testbed – Sold to Westpoint Aviation

G-AMDZ*– 11/50 to 4/60

Sold to Channel Airways

G-AMGD*– 11/50 to 4/60

Sold to Autair

G-AMJX*– 6/51 to 3/59

Sold to Cambrian

G-AMNW*– 1/52 to 5/62

Sold to Channel Airways

Vickers 700/800 Viscount

G-AMOE*– 7/53 to 3/64

Sold to Channel Airways

G-AMOG*– 3/53 to 1/63

Sold to Cambrian Airways

G-AMOH*– 10/53 to 12/63

Sold to Channel Airways

G-AMOK*– 12/53 to 2/63

Sold to Linea Aeropostal Venezuela as YV-C-AMB

G-ANHB*– 11/54 to 8/62

Sold to VASP as PP-SRN

G-ANHE*– 6/55 to 8/62

Sold to VASP as PP-SRQ

G-AOHJ*– 3/57 to 7/76

TFR to B.A 4/74 – WFU Newcastle 4/76 & later B/U

G-AOHR*– 6/57 to 6/76

TFR to B.A 4/74 – WFU Cardiff, Wales 8/75 & later B/U

G-AOHS*– 6/57 to 6/75

TFR to B.A 4/74 – WFU Cardiff 6/75 and donated to fire dump – B/U 3/80

G-AOHV*– 7/57 to 1/81

Sold to British Air Ferries

G-AOJD*– 1/57 to 3/76

TFR to B.A 4/74 – WFU Jersey and donated to fire service – B/U 3/03

G-AORD*– 9/57 to c.3/76

TFR to B.A 4/74 – WFU Birmingham 12/75 – Donated to fire service & B/U 10/85

G-AOYH*– 12/57 to 7/68

Sold to B.K.S

G-AOYJ*– 1/58 to 4/81

Sold to British Air Ferries

G-AOYM*– 3/58 to 1/84

Sold to British Air Ferries

G-AOYO*– 4/58 to

Sold to B.K.S

G-AOYP*– 5/58 to 4/81

Sold to British Air Ferries

G-AOYR*– 4/58 to 1/84

Sold to British Air Ferries

G-AOYS*– 6/58 to 5/81

Sold to British Air Ferries

G-AOYT*– 5/58 to 5/69

Sold to Winner Airways as B-3001

G-APEY*– 7/58 to 4/68

Sold to B.K.S

G-APKF*– 7/58 to 9/69

Sold to Lao Air Lines as XW-TDN

Armstrong-Whitworth Argosy

G-ASXL*– 1/65 to 7/65

Crashed on approach to Milan, Italy 4/7/65

G-ASXM*– 3/65 to 6/70

Sold to Transair Ltd as CF-TAJ

G-ASXO*– 4/65 to 4/70

Sold to Transair Ltd as CF-TAX

Westland Whirlwind

G-ANFH*– 11/54 to 1/69

Sold to Autair

Sikorsky S-61

G-ASNL*– 12/63 to 10/83

TFR to B.A Helicopters 10/69 – Sold in the U.S

G-ASNM*– 2/64 to 11/70

Lost over North Sea 15/11/70

Vickers Vanguard

G-APEM*– 11/61 to 7/76

TFR to B.A 4/74 – Sold to Europe Aero Service as F-BYCE

G-APEO*– 11/61 to 11/77

TFR to B.A 4/74 – WFU at Prestwick 5/75 – B/U Heathrow 11/77


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