BAC 1-11 Info & Specs

A Brief History…

Up until the early 1960s, most of Britain’s short haul passengers had been carried around the country and across to the Continent on a mixture of British turboprop aircraft. However, while Britain had led the aviation world by putting the first turboprop and the first jet liner into commercial service, any semblance of pure jet production remained solely with De Havilland who had simply offered several upgrades to their Comet and by the end of the 1950s, Britain’s aviation industry risked falling behind, especially with the likes of the Boeing 707 and the Douglas DC-8 rapidly coming into service. So, over the next few years an attempt was made to fight back with a small range of products including the long range Vickers VC-10, the medium range Hawker Siddeley Trident and the short range BAC 1-11, the latter of which would go on to become Britain’s best selling jet airliner, this possibly coming about as a result of the fact that unlike most other British aircraft manufacturers of the time, BAC chose not to be held to ransom by B.E.A. and B.O.A.C. who often demanded that aircraft should be designed primarily according to their own needs rather than those of the global industry as a whole.

However with that being said, the 1-11 was initially conceived by Hunting Aircraft to a B.E.A. requirement for a short-haul jet airliner to first supplement and then eventually replace the large number of Vickers Viscounts that this airline had in service. Yet despite this, the ‘Hunting 107’ was never realised and along with Bristol, English Electric and Vickers, Hunting was later merged into BAC who first took over the design and then later made the decision to develop it further. From the outset, the meagre 30-seat cabin was rejected and subsequently went through two redesigns, the first in 1960 which was renamed as the BAC 107, this having a 59-seat layout. Sufficed to say, this was also considered inadequate and in 1961, the 80-seat BAC 111 design was finally settled upon. Unlike all other British jet airliners, the BAC 1-11 would receive its first order during May 1961 from independent behemoth B.U.A. who requested 10 of the type while other orders later came in from the Africa, the U.S. and the Middle East.

The first prototype flew just over two years later on August 20th 1963 and lacking any similar aircraft to challenge the type, the orders (albeit small) began coming in thick and fast from all over the world. Sadly though, this aircraft crashed on October 22nd after entering a deep stall (a danger inherent to t-tailed, rear engined aircraft) and pancaking into the ground near Chicklade, Wiltshire with the loss of test pilot Mike Lithgow and six other BAC employees. As a result of this tragedy, BAC would go on to develop the world’s first stick shaker ‘anti-stall system’ which also included a stick pusher that would automatically force the nose down gently should the angle of attack become too high. Thankfully, sales and options remained unaffected and the first production aircraft was finally delivered to B.U.A. on January 22nd 1965, while the first 1-11 dispatched overseas would arrive with Braniff in the U.S. on March 11th.

Sales remained on the respectable side throughout the 1960s and by 1971, 120 aircraft had been delivered. However in 1967, B.E.A. summarily entered into the equation, displaying an interest in a stretched version of the 1-11 that BAC had proposed. So, while this airline dilly dallied over the specifications, the market lead that BAC had retained over other emerging types such as the DC-9 and the later F-28 was lost due to this unnecessary delay that sadly, the 1-11 would never really recover from. That being said, orders from this company were eventually forthcoming and from 1968 onwards British Airways finally took on 42 airframes, 14 of which were 510ED models, these having similar cockpit layouts to the Hawker Siddeley Trident in an attempt to reduce type rating issues. Several other stretches and upgrades were proposed, but nothing ever came of them, although another small light did appear on the horizon in 1979 when Rombac signed a deal to produce these aircraft in Romania. However, nothing much came of this venture and in the end, only 9 aircraft were eventually completed.

BAC 1-11 production finally ceased in 1982, although these airliners would remain popular with both charter and smaller airlines alike. Throughout the 1980s, a significant number remained in service with the likes of Air UK, British Caledonian, British Island Airways and Dan-Air, the latter of which would eventually provide the bulk of BAF’s 1-11 fleet after Dan-Air’s merger with British Airways during 1992. However, Channel Airways would be the first SEN based airline to operate this type from the airport, although the short runway and noise complaints quickly saw operations being moved to Stansted and as such, BAF would effectively follow in the same vein, using Southend primarily for the maintenance and servicing of its 1-11 fleet. While the 1-11 itself was well liked and had few vices, 2003 noise regulations would finally bring an end to operations, at least in Europe. Hush kits were expensive and made only a marginal difference to the noise of the aircraft’s deafening Speys and while Tay modifications were carried out to one aircraft by Dee Howard, no further conversions were undertaken or sold.

Click here to view Robin J. Pinnock’s video of various British World 1-11s at SEN


BAC 1-11 Variants


Early production variant with 10,410lb Speys and an 89-seat cabin – 56 delivered


As above, but with larger fuel tanks and more powerful 11,400lb Speys – 9 delivered


As above but built to American equipment specifications – 69 delivered


Rough field variant with larger tyres, uprated undercarriage, longer wings and lower fuselage strengthening – 6 delivered


Export variant of 475 for Oman – 3 delivered


Stretched version with 119-seat cabin and 12,550lb Speys – 86 delivered


B.E.A./B.A. variant – As above but with cockpit instrumentation similar to the H.S. Trident – 14 delivered


Quieter, improved version of the 475 variant – 1 converted


Proposed 134-seat version – Never produced


Proposed 150-seat version with CFM-56 engines – Never produced

Rombac 560

Romanian built version of the BAC 1-11-500 – 9 delivered


BAC 1-11 Specifications

(500 Series)

Number Built

244 + 9 (All Variants)


Short-Haul Jet Airliner


107ft (32.60m)


93ft 6in (28.50m)


119 passengers

Cruise Speed

470kt – 540mph (870km/h)






2 x 12,550lb Rolls Royce RB.163 low-bypass Spey turbofans