8/22/1974: The Short 330 Performs Maiden Flight

Today in Aviation, the prototype Short 330 (G-BSBH) made its maiden flight in 1974. This is its story.



August 22, 2023

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DALLAS - Today in Aviation, the prototype Short 330 (G-BSBH) made its maiden flight in 1974, launching commercial operations that same year.

The Short 330, AKA SD3-30, can trace its history back to the Short Skyvan, which first flew in 1963 and was a "general-purpose" aircraft that proved popular.

Buoyed by Skyvan's success, the manufacturer looked at designing a bigger and better version that was more refined and appealing to Western airlines.

Shorts 330 of Mississippi Valley Airlines is pictured at MSP in 1985. Photo: Eduard Marmet, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

US Market Focus

The US market was of particular interest to the Short Brothers. Airlines at the time were moving to a hub-and-spoke operation. This saw smaller commuter aircraft used to feed passengers to larger jets at airlines' major hubs.

Market research carried out predicted demand for approximately 300 aircraft in the regional category in the US alone between 1972 and 1981.

Henson Airlines Short 330 at Baltimore September 11, 1983. Photo: Wiki Commons.

Skyvan Upgrade

Rather than developing a clean-sheet design, the 330 bore many similarities to the Skyvan. The boxy fuselage became a key selling point for the type.

The 'wide-body' style cabin comfortably accommodated 30 passengers and was designed by Walter Dorwin Teague Associates of New York, in collaboration with Boeing. The interior was made to feel like a modern airliner with air-conditioning, overhead lockers, toilet and galley area.

Two weeks after its maiden flight, G-BSBH attended the Farnborough Air Show, gaining much attention from potential customers. The first order came from Canadian regional operator Time Air, which launched flights with the type on August 24, 1974.

As planned, 52% of the 330s built went into service in the US.


Featured image: G-BSBH pictured at the Farnborough Air Show in 1974. Photo: Steve Fitzgerald GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons