A New World Standard

The versatile and economical Vickers Vanguard was tailor-made for BEA (British European Airways) and served the airline well for almost 20 years. David Ransted recalls its fascinating history with the airline.

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BEA’s Vanguards operated alongside the company’s Viscount fleet, supplanting them on busy domestic trunk routes and to many European cities and holiday destinations.  AIRTEAMIMAGES.COM/THE SAMBA COLLECTION

In December 1951, before the revolutionary Vickers Viscount turboprops had even entered service, BEA’s development and programme committee met to discuss what kind of airliners would replace them at the end of the decade. It was to be a larger, faster, longer-ranged aircraft able to operate profitably over BEA’s entire network, including sectors of just 200 miles. The aircraft also needed flexibility regarding passenger and cargo capacity to cope with the airline’s ‘peaky’ passenger demand and to be competitive with jet examples over all but its longest routes. On October 17, 1955, following two years of detailed analysis, BEA announced that it was in talks with Vickers-Armstrong for several Vanguards, to join the fleet in 1959/60.

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