More than one British intercontinental airline


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4 June 2006
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Stuck on the Drawing Board: Unbuilt British commercial aircraft since 1945, Richard Payne.

Pages 11 and 12

That the majority of aircraft design and production immediately after the war was dedicated to BOAC and BEA (plus BSAAC for a short while) was due to the air transport system that operated in Britain at the time. From 12 April 1947, BOAC became the sole operator of intercontinental services, except for BSAAC services to South America, with the newly set up British European Airways Corporation flying all European and internal scheduled services (although private airlines were later able to operate routes under BEA Associate Agreements). This date signalled the end of privately operated scheduled services in Britain for a number of years. As a consequence of this, all future airliner production would be directed by the two main carriers, firstly under the Brabazon Committee, and then under such specifications as the Medium-Range and Long-Range Empire aircraft and replacements for the Rapide, DC-3 and Viscount.

Several other books and sites note the apparent hostility towards British designs by BOAC. On the other hand BEA seems to have been quite a supporter of British designs.

Would there have been any improvements in British airliner manufacturing fortunes if BOAC didn't have the monopoly on intercontinental routes but had to share them with BEA (or whatever it would be called)?
It's an interesting idea, but if you had a private carrier in Britain competing with BOAC, they'd be taking an even harder look at economics than BOAC did. Since I'm not sure of the proposed seat/mile costs of the various types proposed in Britain over those years, I'd probably say that the British manufacturers would have been no better off.

One thing that would have improved their fortunes would have been if Pan Am had ever followed through on their intents. They actually ordered Comet 3s, and showed a fair bit of interest in the VC7, and, as I understand it, the DH121 as it was originally designed. Had the British airframe manufacturers been more keen on the idea of imports, and more likely to develop with their own funding, they'd have had a better chance.

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