Trident at 60: The first airliner with autoland

Sixty years ago today the Trident took to the air for the first time. Unfortunately, it failed to garner the large number of orders achieved by Boeing’s competitor trijet – the 727. Dene Bebbington and Bruce Hales-Dutton look back and detail the development of the Trident and its three main variants

Delightful air-to-air study of BEA Trident 3B, G-AWYZ. All photos Key Collection
Delightful air-to-air study of BEA Trident 3B, G-AWYZ. All photos Key Collection

The Hawker Siddeley Trident was one of Britain’s last home-grown commercial airliners. Nicknamed ‘Ground Gripper’ by pilots because of its low power-to-weight ratio resulting in a long take-off run, it was, however, a technological leader. Smog – fog, exacerbated by coal-burning – was a common occurrence in the parts of Europe that Trident would operate, so British European Airways (BEA) contracted Smiths Industries to develop an automatic landing (autoland) system.

 

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