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A12 BAC 111

The third transport type announced in November 1965 for the RAAF's No 34 Squadron VIP fleet was the British Aircraft Corporation One Eleven – the BAC 111.

The BAC 111 had its beginnings in the Hunting Aircraft H.107 32-seat airliner designed in 1957, but this design was shelved. The British Aircraft Corporation was formed in February 1960 with the amalgamation of the Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd, English Electric Co Ltd and Vickers Ltd. BAC also had a controlling share in Hunting Aircraft Ltd, and the H.107 design was reactivated as the 59-seat BAC 107. Demand, however, was for a larger Viscount-sized airliner, which led to the 79-seat BAC 111.

British United Airways was the launch customer for the BAC 111 with an order for 10 aircraft in May 1961, followed in October by Braniff, which became the first US airline to order foreign equipment off the drawing board.

In May 1963 three variants of the BAC 111 were announced. The basic Series 200 had Rolls-Royce Spey 506 turbofans, the longer range/greater payload Series 300 had Spey 511s, and a similar Series 400 met US requirements for that lucrative market. By the time the Series 200 prototype (registered G-ASHG) flew on 20 August 1963, 60 aircraft had been ordered. However, the prototype crashed two months later due to a deep stall, and modifications were incorporated into production aircraft to overcome this problem.

The Series 200 was selected by the RAAF and two aircraft were ordered in April 1966 at a cost of $4 million each. The model designation for the RAAF was One Eleven 217EA, and these aircraft had the more powerful Spey 511-14 turbofans of the Series 300 aircraft. The first RAAF aircraft, A12-124, flew on 3 November 1967 and was accepted by the RAAF on 21 December. Under the command of No 34 Squadron's Commanding Officer, Wing Commander (later Air Commodore) Ray Drury, A12-124 was ferried from the UK via Malta, Nicosia, Teheran, Karachi, New Delhi, Calcutta, Singapore and Darwin, arriving at RAAF Fairbairn on 18 January 1968. The second aircraft, A12-125, flew on 10 January 1968 and was accepted on 31 January. It arrived at Fairbairn on 8 February 1968 under the command of Squadron Leader G. Turnnidge.

In No 34 Squadron service the BAC 111 joined three Mystere 20 jets, with two HS748s and two Viscount turboprop transports, making the RAAF VIP fleet nine strong, of four different types. The two BAC 111s used the radio callsigns VM-NLG and VM-NLH. The BAC 111, as the long-range member of the VIP fleet, often made overseas trips to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Asia. Perhaps the longest trip undertaken was in October 1971 to Iran. In 20 years' service the BAC 111s flew over 25,000 hours with No 34 Squadron before being replaced by the Falcon 900 in 1989.

A12-125 was sold to Hawker Pacific on 30 January 1990, followed by A12-124 on 28 February. On 5 March A12-124 became G-EXPM (ex-PM!) and A12-125 G-KROO on the UK civil register. (Someone in UK Civil Aviation Authority obviously had a sense of humour.) The aircraft were due to depart in late March for UK after being sold to Burtonwood Development. However, G-EXPM did not depart Sydney until 30 August, flying to the UK via Alice Springs and Port Hedland. G-KROO finally departed a year later in August 1991.

The BAC 111 had provided the RAAF's introduction to long-range VIP jet operations, and fulfilled this role successfully and safely.

TECHNICAL DATA: BAC 111

DESCRIPTION:

28-seat VIP transport.

POWER PLANT:

Two 4808 kg (10 600 lb) thrust Rolls-Royce Spey 511-14 turbofans.

DIMENSIONS:

Wing span 26.97 m (88 ft 6 in); length 28.50 m (93 ft 6 in); height 7.47 m (24 ft 6 in).

WEIGHTS:

Empty 20 515 kg (45 134 lb); loaded 33 864 kg (74 500 lb).

PERFORMANCE:

Max cruising speed 870 km/h (470 kts); range 3430km (1850nm); ceiling 35,000 ft (10 668 m).

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