Operated from c.Mar 1973 to Dec 2001

Based in No.1 hangar on the north side of the airport from the spring of 1973 until December 2001, this succession of companies would primarily busy themselves with the maintenance, repairs and overhauls of BAF’s and later, British World’s own fleet. However, these companies would also take in any other aircraft that could fit inside their hangar and as such, a good number of types would pass through this engineering facility over the 28 years that its doors remained open for.

BAF Engineering Era (1st Incarnation) – 1973 to 1983

BAF Engineering began life roughly 18 months after the Keegan takeover of the airline in October 1971 with Mike Keegan appointing former ATEL, senior radio engineer Sid Clark to run it. Prior to this, all BAF aircraft had been maintained by Aviation Traders being as both companies were still part of the Air Holdings Group. However, with the collapse of Channel Airways in February 1972, their engineering facility on the north side of the airport became vacant and by the following year the entire area had been cleaned up and BAF Engineering had moved in. Types dealt with during this time included the Carvairs, the Herald fleet and the first batch of BAF Viscounts, three of which could fit comfortably inside the hangar, although four would go in with a bit of cajoling.

Apart from the standard checks, overhauls and maintenance, BAF also offered interior refurbishment to complete (fitted or kit form) passenger cabin renewals for F-27s and Heralds, aircraft component and radio overhauls and the manufacturing of bespoke mouldings and parts. In 1980, BAF also opened its new technical training centre at SEN (located next to what is now the Trygon hangar) from where it ran CAA approved courses such as Type and Non-Type Ratings, Basic Gas Turbine Training, Flight Engineer’s Courses to CAP 50, Pilot’s Engineering Courses to CAP 54 and Loadmaster Training. Meanwhile, a second base would be opened at Rhoose in Wales, which was primarily used to overhaul or service the ex-BA Viscounts that BAF had been buying up, before being dispatched to Southend. This facility was later used to produce microlights although it would break away from the BAF name prior to 1983.

Jadepoint Aviation Engineering Era – 1983 to 1988

In March 1983, financial problems forced Mike Keegan to dispose of some of his BAF assets and he sold both a number of aircraft and its commercial operations schedule to the Jadepoint Group. He would however temporarily retain the BAF name along with the leasing and engineering sides of the business before finally relinquishing them later in the year due to further financial woes. During this period, Jadepoint would mostly concern themselves with maintaining BAF’s existing services while taking care of the ever expanding Viscount fleet and the remaining Heralds.

In mid-1985, Jadepoint entered into talks with BAe at Filton about the possibility of extending the life of its Viscounts by another 15 years or up to 75,000 landings, the cost for each airframe being around the £30,000 mark. However, after a £400,000 study had been carried out, those Viscounts that were selected to undergo these minor modifications which included cleat refurbishment would end up being worked on by British Aerospace, while several other airframes were removed from service and used for parts instead.

BAF Engineering Era (2nd Incarnation) – 1988 to 1993

By January 1988, the Jadepoint Group was facing financial difficulties and as such, the BAF Group of Companies was eventually forced into administration. These business concerns were then placed into the hands of Touche Ross Accounting who thankfully managed to stave off the complete collapse of the airline and it was during this time that the ‘BAF Engineering’ title reappeared. Finally, in May 1989 the Mostjet Consortium stepped forward and purchased both Baltic and BAF and by May of that year, BAF was out of danger. Viscounts and more increasingly, BAC 1-11s would be the most common visitors to the hangar during this period, the latter of which would see BAF taking on the ex-Dan-Air fleet of BAC 1-11s, some of which would be quickly reduced to spares for parts while others would be overhauled before being put into service.

World Aviation Support Era – 1993 to 2001

Sometime during the end of 1992 and the beginning of 1993, the decision was taken to re-brand and relaunch BAF in an attempt to finally distance itself from the car ferry era and give the airline a more modern, up to date feel. In April 1993, the name of the airline was officially changed to British World Airlines and as a consequence by June of that year, its Southend engineering wing had also received a new name to reflect this change. While a large proportion of BWA’s flight operations would move to Stansted from this point on, the engineering hangar was still kept busy, especially with the odd Viscount, a multitude of BAC 1-11s and BAe 146s/Avro RJs that would increasingly venture into SEN.

From the off, a three year contract with Cyprus Airways would be signed in the summer of 1993, that would see the airline’s three 1-11s coming and going from SEN for engineering services. Other 1-11s from airlines and organisations such as ADC Airlines, Braniff, Hold Trade Air, ITAB, Tarom, the Liberian and Saudi Governments and Transafik (amongst others) would also pop in from time to time with a number of these aircraft subsequently being abandoned at SEN due to payment issues or the collapse of the airlines themselves. One further takeover by Castle Mill International in May 1998 would witness little in the way of changes and this engineering facility continued to operate as WAS until the demise of the company in December 2001.


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