Scottish Aviation Jetstream T Mk1


“..’the aircraft is conceived as a relatively simple executive/feeder line/military communications type with turbo-prop engines”
(Handley Page H.P.137 Jetstream Submission to T.A.R.C, February 1966)

The Jetstream served as the RAF’s standard multi-engined pilot trainer for many years, and was the last aircraft of Handley Page design in RAF service, though a few still fly with the Royal Navy.

It was originally designed by Handley Page Limited as an executive light transport/feederliner and the HP137 Jetstream first flew at Radlett in August 1967, but after the company went into liquidation in August 1969 due to Jetstream development costs and poor sales, production transferred to Scottish Aviation Ltd at Prestwick, who had bought the design rights, having previously been subcontracted to manufacture all Jetstream wings by Handley Page.

Following an unsuccessful attempt by Handley Page to interest the RAF in the Jetstream as a multi-role trainer/transport in 1969 and a fly-off against the Aero Commander 690 in 1971, in a £9million contract dated August 1972, the Ministry of Defence ordered 26 Jetstream 201 T. Mk.1 aircraft (XX475 – XX500), similar to the civil Jetstream 200 but with ‘eyebrow’ windows above the flight deck, military-standard instrumentation and avionics and uprated engines, as a Vickers Varsity replacement for training multi-engined pilots and navigators in the then Training Command.

The first RAF aircraft, XX475, a rebuilt Radlett built civil example, flew 13 April 1973, with the type entering service initially with the Central Flying School at RAF Little Rissington on 12 September 1973 for handling and operational trials, and with 5FTS at RAF Oakington in December 1973, though as defence cuts reduced the need for such aircrew, some were stored at RAF St Athan in 1974 and later passed to the Royal Navy.
This followed defence cuts which slashed the RAF transport fleet, which led to the end of multi-engine training by service aircraft in the RAF with the disbandment of 5 FTS in December 1974, despite the first advanced Jetstream pilot course only having commenced there in July 1974.

Deliveries were completed in early 1976; seven were airframes completed by Handley Page, 14 had been partially built as fuselages by Handley Page, and five were new build fuselages by Scottish Aviation using wings built previously.

With the re-introduction of multi-engined training in the RAF, from November 1976 eight new-build aircraft returned to service with No 3 FTS at RAF Leeming, Yorks for instructor training, with the first actual student course commencing July 1977, and in April 1979 transferred to the Multi-Engined Training Squadron (METS) of No. 6 Flying Training School at RAF Finningley, and in August 1995 due to the closure of Finningley transferred to RAF Cranwell as No 3 FTS/45 (R) Squadron, by which time eleven were on strength there.

Ongoing problems of maintaining tired and aging airframes, including smoke and fumes in the cockpit, necessitated their replacement by leasing seven contractor-owned, civil-registered but military operated Raytheon Beech King Air B200 aircraft in 2004.

Fourteen Jetstream T Mk.2s were converted from surplus RAF Jetstream T1 aircraft and, together with two ex civil aircraft, issued to the Royal Navy’s 750 Squadron Fleet Air Arm between 1978-83 to replace the venerable Hunting Sea Prince in the Observer training role, with six aircrew. MEL E.190 weather/terrain mapping radar was mounted in the extended thimble nose for basic navigation training of Sea King, Lynx Mk.8 and Merlin helicopter observers (airborne warfare officers).

A further four Garrett-engined, 16-seat T Mk. 3 aircraft based on the updated civil Jetstream 31 were built for the Royal Navy as ZE438-441 and ordered from British Aerospace in 1983, delivered 1986 and originally intended to carry larger RACAL ASR 360 degree scanning radar fitted under the fuselage, although trials proved unsuccessful and the project was abandoned-the aircraft are now based at with ‘Heron Flight’, 750 NAS at RNAS Yeovilton as VIP and general transport aircraft crewed by RN and Serco (civilian contractor) pilots.

The RN received several ex RAF Jetstreams for spares recovery in 2003/4, with Navy Jetstream operation planned until 2007 at least.

Further Reading

Aircraft of The Royal Navy Since 1945
Lt. Cdr. David Hobbs RN
Maritime Books n.d

Aircraft in British Military Service
Vic Flintham Airlife 1998

Goodbye Jetstream
Peter Foster, Aviation News. April 2004. pp.282-285

Navy Jetstreams
Peter Foster, Aviation News. May 2004. pp.354-357

Handley Page Aircraft since 1907
C H Barnes, revised by Derek N. James. Putnam 1987

Scotland’s Comely Commuter. Air International. July 1982 pp.7-14/42-43

Jetstream T.Mk.1 Aircrew Manual Ministry of Defence (Air) Amended to October 1994

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