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British Aircraft Corporation

Mr. Duncan Sandys, then Minister of Aviation, launched the Government's plan to rationalise the British aircraft industry. The strongest pressure was brought to bear on aviation firms, and as a result there were two big consortia, the Hawker-Siddeley Group and the British Aircraft Corporation, each incorporating many formerly independent firms and a large number of factories. Serious efforts were made to agree a merger between Vickers, English Electric and de Havilland, which failed for a number of reasons, most important the effect of the VC-11 on future sales of Trident, the effect of a merger on sales of other existing de Havilland aircraft and a preference for independence by de Havilland. Inclusion of Bristol in BAC was only considered late in the process of merging Vickers and English Electric, encouraged by the Minister of Aviation, Duncan Sandys.

Vickers, English Electric, and Bristol Aircraft united to create British Aircraft Corporation in 1960. Bristol, English Electric and Vickers became "parents" of BAC with shareholdings of 40%, 40% and 20% respectively. BAC in turn acquired the share capital of their aviation interests and 70% of Hunting several months later.

However these historic aircraft manufacturers continued to market their products under their well known brand names. Adverts for the English Electric Lightning, Vickers VC10, were annotated Member Of The British Aircraft Corporation. Whatever misgivings some may have had, there was the hope that these groupings would lead to greater efficiency and thus to a greater volume of business, and, of course, employment.

In its short, seventeen-year, life, the British Aircraft Corporation built some of the most important aircraft and missiles of the 1960s, 1970s and beyond: its best-known products included the Rapier missile and One-Eleven airliner [also known as the BAC-111, BAC-1-11]. B.A.C in its short life oversaw the triumphs of early European Cooperation in the form of the BAC/Aerospatiale Concorde, The Panavia Tornado and the Sepecat Jaguar. It was also responsible for the stillborn TSR2 strike aircraft, the 1965 cancellation of which remain controversial to this day. Most famously, the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic airliner came from the BAC stable.

The UK continued recognize and support the US position of primacy with respect training and maintenance facilities in Saudi Arabia. At the same time, by 1965 the UK balance of payments problem had become particularly acute, especially with respect to aircraft industry, and the UK Government was under great pressure assist actively in foreign sales. HMG was thus required give British Aircraft Corporation full support throughout world. Acting under this pressure, HMG reassured Saudis that, if requested, it would be willing issue licenses for sale Thunderbird missiles, Lightning aircraft and radar facilities.

In 1966 the company was contracted to Lightning and Strikemaster aircraft and equipment in a program called the ‘Magic Carpet’. In 1973 the Company’s activities were incorporated with a Memorandum of Understanding between the Saudi and British governments, and British Aircraft Corporation, was appointed the Prime Contractor.

On the 21st of January in 1976, there was a revolution in commercial aviation waiting to strike everyone by surprise and awe. One very promising aircraft called the Concorde, a pioneer of its kind, started operating on the London-Bahrain and Paris-Rio. The Concorde was developed jointly by Aerospatiale of France and the British Aircraft Corporation. The British Aircraft Corporation continued to promote the sale of the Concorde jetliner and other products to United States operators on behalf of both the British Aircraft Corporation Limited and Her Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom - Department of Industry. Information reporting the advantages of the Concorde was disseminated in response to public and industrial inquiries and to libraries, public officials, newspapers, press services, educational and civic organizations.

Concorde signalled the arrival of a new era in transportation, aviation to be precise; it was the beginning of supersonic travel. Since the ancient times, man has always wanted to make his travel swifter and save on time. From horses and chariots to cars and trains, the ultimate pursuit for travel has been to lower travelling time. First flown in 1969, Concorde continued for 27 years. Concorde flew regular transatlantic flights from London Heathrow (British Airways) and Paris Charles de Gaulle (Air France) to New York JFK and Washington Dulles, profitably flying these routes at record speeds, in less than half the time of other airliners.

B.A.C. was destined to survive for just 17 years before further consolidation. It was nationalised as a result of the "Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act". British Aerospace (BAE), the British defense and aerospace company, was first formed in April 1977 by the merger of the British Aircraft Corporation, Hawker Siddeley Aviation, Hawker Siddeley Dynamics and Scottish Aviation. The company was under national control, but in 1981 it went public after the Thatcher Government sold 51.57% of its shares in BAE. In 1985 the UK Government sold its remaining shares of the company and BAE became an entirely privately-owned company.





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Page last modified: 09-05-2013 17:37:46 ZULU