The Trident had a convoluted and difficult start to life. Originally the design was by de Havilland and called the DH 121.
The original requirement was from British European Airways Corporation (BAE) for a jet airliner for west European routes, unfortunately BAEs requirements fluctuated greatly finally evolving into an aircraft suited mainly to BAEs requirements. At the same time the British Government was pushing the British aircraft industry to rationalise. In 1958 de Havilland, Hunting Aircraft and Fairey Aviation formed a partnership to manufacture the DH121 and the company they formed was called Airco. In 1960 de Havilland was acquired by the Hawker Siddeley group and Airco was disbanded, Hunting moving to the newly formed British Aircraft Corportaion (BAC) and Fairy was partially incorporated into Westland Aircarft. The DH 121 became known as the HS121.
The design of the Trident was driven by BAE who requested an aircraft with more than 2 engines. The design included a T tail and 3 rear mounted engines, the first aircraft with this configuration. The 3rd engine was mounted on the tail and fed by an S shaped duct. The 3B version also had a fourth "Boost" engine the RB162.
At this point it should be noted that in 1956 Airco hosted a visit from Boeing engineers and gave them full details of the DH121, however Boeing gave very little information to Airco - commentators have since said that this was "the crowning piece of stupidity".
The aircraft was designed to cruise at high speed, thus the wing produced relatively low lift at lower speeds, this together with the low power to weight ratio required prolonged take off runs. The aircraft was also routinely able to descend at rates of up to 4,500ft/min and in emergencies upto 10,000ft/min with the 1C version able to use reverse thrust before touchdown, giving very short landing runs.
One of the major breakthroughs of the Trident was its triplex control systems enabling it to perform blind landing. The system was developed by Smiths Aircraft Instruments. This allowed operations below the CAT 1 standard of a 200ft decision height and 600m Runway Visual Range (RVR). The large avionics bay required led to one of the unusual aspects of the Trident, its off centre nosewheel. The system also drove a moving map on the centre instrument panel.
The aircraft entered service with BEA on the 1st April 1964 and by 1965 15 Tridents were in BEAs fleet. The BEA Trident fleet were taken on by British Airways when they merged and In 1977 fatigue cracks were found in the wings, these cracks were repaired but in 1986 new ICAO noise legislation came in to force, BA considered the upgrade to be too expensive and removed them from the fleet.
Operators included Air Ceylon, CAAC Airlines, China United Airlines, Cyprus Airways, Iraqi Airways, Iraqi Airways, Kuwait Airways, Pakistan International Airlines, BKS/Northeast Airlines, British Airways, British European Airways, Channel Airways and Air Charter Service of Zaire. The Trident were also operated by the People's Liberation Army Air Force of China and the Pakistan Air Force.
Total Sales: 117
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The original version of the Trident this type was operated by BEA. The prototype G-ARPA made its maiden flight on 9th January 1962 from Hatfield and entered service on 1st April 1964.
There were 24 Trident 1Cs built.
The improved 1E was powered by the Spey 511, increased gross weight and an increased wing area by extending the chord. It had the same fuselage as the 1C but held more seats at 140 in six abreast configuration. 15 1Es were built.
The 2E had a 2.8m fuselage stretch, higher gross weight and upgraded Spey 512 engines. The leading edge droops were replaced by slats and extended tips. The 2E also had a greater range and first flew on 27th July 1967.
50 Trident 2Es were built.
BEA wanted a larger aircraft so the aircraft fuselage was stretched of 5m making room for 180 passengers.
As the Spey 512 was the end of the development line, extra thrust had to be obtained. This was done using a Rolls-Royce RB162 turbojet adding 15% more thrust.
16 Trident 3Es were built together with 2 Super Trident 3Bs.
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