Although the prototype BH-8 designed by Pavel Benes and Miroslav Hein, beat competing Letov S-7 and Aero A-20 types in competition, it was never accepted by the military. The IMO and engineers were not fully satisfied with its performance and characteristics. The original model BH-8 was reworked, as the Avia BH-17.
A number of characteristics of BH-8 was maintained - still it was the all-wood biplane upper wing seated on a central pylon, box structure of the fuselage and tail surfaces were not changed. Among the most significant structural changes include reduced wingspan, increased area of the wings and extended fuselage. Coolers were moved between the undercarriage struts. The oil tank was placed in the leading edge of the central pylon.
The first prototype was powered with a Hispano-Suiza 8Fb engine of 310 hp, and first flew September 5, 1923 with a demonstration to the Army on December 31 the same year. The BH-17 was armed with two 7.7-mm machine guns Vickers, mounted above the engine.
After successful completion of military trials, in June 1924 were ordered 24 BH-17. The first was B-17.2, which first flew 16 July 1924 (pilot Černohous). On August 16, 1924 it was followed by B-17.1 (Karl Fritsch).
The BH-17 first entered the fighter squadron in 1924. 32 and 34 squadron Aviation Regiment 1 in Prague received BH-17 from January to April 1925.
Although the aircraft Avia B-17 represented a considerable improvement to the previous BH-6 and BH-8, there were still problems. The fuel system failures occurred after just a few hours flown. Several times there was fire and subsequent destruction of virtually new aircraft. All B-17s were therefore withdrawn from use and passed back to the factory where they reconstructed fuel installations, and also rebuilt wings and tail.
Refurbished machines were returned to combat units, but were handed over to the fighter pilot school in Cheb. Here they lasted into the late twenties, when they were replaced by B-21.
Coloring all machines were classic - on upper and side surfaces tri-color camouflage, lower surfaces painted with aluminum paint. Engine cover, center pylon and spinner remained in the color of unpolished aluminum. Feathered coats of arms on the wing and tail, the fuselage side regimental emblem and the model and serial number. Propeller remained in the color of wood, varnished.
Further development of the B-17 was the construction of Avia B-21.
Engine: Hispano-Suiza 8Fb, 221 kW / 310 hp
Propeller: Two-blade wooden
Upper wing span: 8.73 m
Lower wing span: 8.86 m / 29 ft 0,81in
Wing chord: 1.80 m
Length: 6.73 m / 22 ft 0,95in
Height: 2.65 m / 8 ft 8,32in
Wing area: 21. 30 sq.m / 229.27 ft 2
Empty weight: 762 kg / 1680 lb
Normal takeoff weight: 1072 kg / 2363 lb
Maximum speed: 238 kph / 147.9 mph
Cruising speed: 206 kph / 128 mph
Practical range: 500 km / 310 mi
Rate of climb: 358 m / min
Practical ceiling: 8000 m / 26247 ft
Climb to 3000 m: 7 min 10 s
Climb to 5,000m / 16404 ft: 13 min
Load factor: 10
Armament: 2 x 7.7-mm Vickers Mk. 09 machine gun, 300 rpg