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British Aircraft Corporation (BAC)


The 1957 Defence White Paper was also a preface to the first major "rationalisation ', overhaul of the British industry, which took place in 1960 and caused the disappearance of so many pioneering aviation names. From this process, achieved by a simple, Government ruling that with one or two exceptions (such as the Westland Helicopter Company), official contracts would only be placed with rationalized companies, nearly all the historic organizations in British aviation were swallowed by two large aerospace groups. The British Aircraft Corporation combined Bristol, English Electric, Hunting and Vickers-Armstrong/Supermarine, while Hawker Siddeley absorbed companies as Avro, Armstrong-Whitworth, Blackburn, de Havilland, Folland, Gloster and Hawker.

It then had four wholly owned subsidiaries: Bristol Aircraft Ltd., English Electric Aviation Ltd., Vickers Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd., and British Aircraft Corporation (Guided Weapons) Ltd., plus a controlling interest in Hunting Aircraft Ltd. On January 1,1964 British Aircraft Corporation (Operating) Ltd. was formed to be responsible for the business conducted formerly by the subsidiaries. At the same time BAC acquired the remaining shares of Hunting Aircraft Ltd.

Approximately 40000 people were employed by the combine in 1966.

There were four aircraft divisions: Filton, which controls the Filton (Bristol) factory and the flying test centre; Luton, which controls the Luton factory and test facility; Preston, controlling the Preston and Samlesbury factories in addition to the design, research and test flying establishment at Warton; and the Weybridge Division, which controls the Weybridge and Hurn factories and the civil aircraft flying test centre at Wisley. There is also a Guided Weapons Division at Stevenage, Bristol and Cardiff.

Aircraft under construction in 1966 were the BAC One-Eleven, VC10 and Super VC10 in the civil class and Lightning and Jet Provost on the military side. The BAC 221 and H.126 are experimental aircraft and the Concorde was being built at Bristol.

The largest factory area is that at Weybridge, some 3.5 m.sq.ft. Next comes Filton with 2 m. sq.ft and last in the three biggest factories, Preston with 1.5 m. sq.ft. At Weybridge, work is concentrated on VC10 and Super VC10. Hurn is responsible for final assembly of the BAC OneEleven.

Filton produced parts for the One-Eleven, VC10 and Lightning Mark 5, in addition to being the assembly point for the British version of Concorde. Preston was primarily occupied with the Lightning as the TSR2 was out of the running. Luton maked parts for the BAC OneEleven but its main preoccupation was the Jet Provost, of which more than 400 had been delivered.

With the parent companies' total net assets of £253 m., the group is owned 20 per cent by Bristol Aeroplane and 40 per cent each by English Electric and Vickers. Headquarters of the corporation is in Pall Mall, London. The chairman was Viscount Portal, assisted by a board made up of Sir Dermot Boyle, Sir George Edwards, Viscount Caldecote, A. W. E. Houghton, A. D. Marris, W. Masterton, Viscount Nelson, G. A. Riddell, Sir Leslie Rowan, Sir Reginald Verdon Smith and R. P. H. Yapp. Company secretary was J. O. Charkon and the treasurer is T. B. Pritchard.

With its co-operation with Sud-Aviation, BAC was the first of the big British manufacturers to go wholeheartedly into the concept of combining forces with European competitors. Much valuable information was exchanged in the years before Concorde was approved and no small amount of part production for other aeroplanes was done on a mutual basis.

When the Concorde project became fact, the nucleus of an international team with BAC and Sud already existed.

Merged into British Aerospace in April 1977. Final products using BAC name included One-Eleven short/medium-range airliner (first flown August 1963 in Series 200 prototype form), Strikemaster jet trainer and armed tactical support jet (first flown October 1967), and Concorde supersonic airliner (first flown March 1969) in association with Aerospatiale of France.

 

 


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