8/06/1986: Maiden Flight of the BAe ATP

Today in Aviation, the prototype British Aerospace (BAe) ATP operated its maiden flight from Woodford, UK in 1986.



August 6, 2023

DALLAS - Today in Aviation, the prototype British Aerospace (BAe) ATP operated its maiden flight from Woodford, UK in 1986. Piloted by Test Pilot Robbie Robinson, G-MATP took off at 10:00 hrs. Despite poor weather conditions, the 2-hour, 40-minute flight was a complete success.

The 'Advanced Turboprop' (ATP) can trace its history back to the 1960s and the successful Hawker Siddeley HS 748. By the 1980s, the type was in need of a replacement. BAe chose to completely re-design the HS 748 and the ATP was born on March 1, 1984.

It featured a fuselage stretch to accommodate 64 passengers, updated avionics, and new Pratt & Whitney engines.

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British Midland was the launch customer of the ATP. G-BMYM is pictured here at BHX in 1988. (Photo: Rob Hodgkins, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)

Entry into Service

British Midland (BM) was the launch customer for the ATP. It was placed into service in May 1988 on its new twice-daily 'Diamond Service' from East Midlands (EMA) to Amsterdam (AMS) and a six-daily route from London Heathrow (LHR) to Birmingham (BHX).

Rival British Airways (BA) ordered eight ATPs in 1988 for its 'Highland Division.' BA went on to operate 13 of the type across its European and domestic network.

The Jetstream 61 was BAe's attempt at competing with the de Havilland Canada Dash 8 and ATR 42 and 72. Only four were ever built and all were later scrapped. (Photo: BAe Systems)

Jetstream 61

In October 1992 the ATP was relaunched as the BAe Jetstream 61. It had upgraded Pratt & Whitney engines and passenger capacity increased to 70.

The prototype ATP was re-registered as G-PLXI and modified to become the prototype J61. It first flew on May 10, 1994, and appeared at that year's Farnborough Air Show.

However, BAe was integrated into French plane-maker ATR and the project was immediately scrapped.

The ATP saw limited success, with only 67 airframes built. Dogged with technical issues, the ATP was often dubbed ‘Another Technical Problem’ by crews. Despite these issues, the type found a new lease of life as a freighter, and over 30 years since taking to the skies, many are still flying today.


Featured image: ATP Prototype G-MATP pictured at the Farnborough Air Show in 1986. Photo: BAe Systems