B.K.S.

BKS small

Operated at Southend from Jan 1952 to Oct 1970

It was to be within the realms of engineering that the name B.K.S. ultimately became synonymous with Southend, at least until the very end of the 1960s. In January 1952, this engineering company that was at the time still known as ‘Crewsair Engineering’ became part of the B.K.S. (Aero Charter) operation and summarily threw its doors open about a month before the airline itself began operating flights from Southend, although by August, the name had been changed to ‘B.K.S. Engineering’. Over the years, this company would, alongside ATEL, go on to build up an impressive reputation as one of Britain’s premier, aircraft servicing, maintenance and repair facilities which would also see it being rewarded with a large number of contracts from airlines all over the world.

In 1960, the ‘K’ in B.K.S. ‘Mike’ Keegan sold his share of the airline to his two partners, although he had decided to retain the engineering side of the company. However, the B.K.S. association with Southend finally came to an end in May 1969 when its own Viscount G-APEY departed after a short period of servicing and maintenance at the end of October 1970. B.K.S. was later taken over by BEA and their engineering facility was merged with that of Cambrian at Rhoose Airport in Wales. While the passenger and engineering companies operated as two separate entities, most if not all of B.K.S.’ aircraft would have been seen at SEN at some time or other and are thus worthy of a mention. The only aircraft not seen at Southend would have been the company’s Tridents which were initially destined for Channel Airways. As such, they are not included here as they were more than likely serviced at Leeds/Bradford.

 

B.K.S. Air Surveys

Another B.K.S. operation that would continue to use Southend as a base was B.K.S. Air Surveys, a small, associate company that would engage in local mapping and aerial survey work. This branch of the company was formed in April 1956, although it didn’t begin operations until 1957 (the same year that B.K.S. terminated most of its scheduled passenger operations from SEN) and used a handful of smaller aircraft such as the Avro Anson to carry out these tasks. However by 1960, this organisation would also move its base of operations to the north as well and in the process would convert to more modern equipment such as Islanders and Aztecs. This company is still in business today although it is now under the ownership of a private owner.

 

B.K.S. Air Survey fleet from 1957 to 1960

Airspeed Consul

G-AJXG – 8/55 to 10/59

WFU and B/U at Southend – circa 1/60

Avro 652 Anson

G-ALXH – 5/58 to 5/63

DBR at Yeadon  9/4/63 – B/U the following month

G-AMBE – 8/53 to 10/58

Sold to Federated Air Transport – Ret to B.K.S. 4/61 and used as spares ship – B/U c.1962

Douglas C-47 Dakota

G-ANAF – 6/53 to 10/58

Sold to Hunting Surveys Ltd

 

Do you have any other, interesting snippets of information about either company and their SEN history or indeed, any pictures or paraphernalia that you would like to share? If so, then please contact us on saadinfomail@gmail.com

Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.