Saturday 21 November 2009

Travel to and from Shetland by Air (Updated 30 Jul 2011)

After WWII British European Airways (BEA) used captured German JU52’s to connect Shetland to the mainland but in 1947 BEA introduced Douglas DC-3’s (Dakotas) onto the route from Aberdeen to Sumburgh. It was the DC-3 which operated the service whilst RAF Saxa Vord was being built and for the first few years after the Unit was commissioned.
In the early 60’s the DC-3s were replaced by the Dart Herald, a twin engine turboprop. About 50 of these aircraft were built. They operated the service until 1966.
The popular Vickers Viscount was introduced in 1966 and for a short period it and the Dart Herald were both used on the route. Flight frequencies were a lot less in the 60’s, I seem to remember 1 flight a day from Aberdeen in the winter and 2 a day in the summer. The Viscount operated the scheduled services until the 1980's. In the meantime BEA amalgamated with British Overseas Airways Corporation to form British Airways (1974).
The Vickers Viscount was replaced by the Hawker Siddeley 748, or "Budgie" as it was sometimes known.  A development of this aircraft, the HS 780, was bought by the RAF as the Andover. A further development of the HS 748 was called the Advanced Turboprop (shortened to ATP) and this was introduced to the Shetland services in 1989.
                                                             ATP                            Photo: Gordon Carle
Later BA franchised Loganair to operate the Shetland - Mainland routes on their behalf. By now it was possible to travel from Shetland to Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh & Kirkwall on direct flights. Loganair eventually replaced the ATP aircraft with smaller aircraft like the Jetstream 31 and the Shorts 330.
Loganair bought its’ first SAAB 340 in 1999 and now (in 2011) owns 14 of these aircraft - they have been used on the Shetland services for a number of years. Flybe took over the routes from BA in 2008 but have continued to use Loganair to operate them.

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