Starting life as a de Havilland design, the Hawker Siddeley Trident was the world’s first jet airliner with three engines. With technologically advanced avionics and a high cruising speed, it formed the backbone of British European Airways (BEA) fleet. There are two videos about this jet below.

Powered by the Rolls-Royce Spey, the Trident 1C first flew from Hatfield on 9 January 1962 and entered service with BEA on 1 April 1964. Other operators included Channel Airways, Northeast Airlines, Air Ceylon, Cyprus Airways and China’s CAAC.

Trident Video

Following on from last weeks videos on the Fokker 100, this weeks are about the Trident. The first one below is about the introduction of the Trident 3B, the final and highest capacity version of the aircraft.

The video runs for just over two minutes and takes us through a proving flight to Majorca. It has some great air to air shots of the Trident as well as images in the cockpit and cabin, including meal service.

Unique to the Trident 3B is a fourth booster engine in the tail, which is mentioned in the video. BEA crews nicknamed the aircraft “the gripper” as its wing – designed for high speed cruising – had lower lift on the ground, making it take a long time to get into the air.

You also see the unusual offset nose gear, which is not in the centre as on most aircraft. This was to make more space in the bay for the avionics computers. The glare shields in the passenger windows are also something I’d never seen before or known about. It’s a great little film!

Autoland Pioneer

Prior to the Trident, if visibility was limited by fog at airports, aircraft would divert to other airports and have to wait until the fog had cleared. The advanced avionics on the Trident with its three autopilots checking each other meant this was now possible.

The first automatic landing in passenger service took place on 10 June 1965, while the first landing in conditions of no visibility took place on 4 November 1966. Commonplace today, the Trident was a true pioneer in this area.

Above is a twenty minute video called Clear To Land from 1968, all about the BEA Trident. It goes into some detail about the aircraft as well as a journey on board, starting at the West London Air Terminal in the city.

If you’re stuck for time, these are the highlights. 1:50 to 3:15 showing how the agents book a ticket for someone on the phone. 6:20 to 9:55 is all about the Autoland. After this, the rest of the video is a flight from Paris to London which is presented in detail and which is quite interesting.

Overall Thoughts

Just 117 Hawker Siddeley Trident’s were produced. Service ended in Europe at the end of 1985, as new noise regulations prohibited operations past this date without expensive modifications to make the aircraft quieter. Operations continued in China through to the 1990s, with the last flight on 24 September 1997 when one was flown to a museum.

You can visit a Trident at the Manchester Airport Viewing Park, where one is situated along with a Concorde. Like all British built aircraft, there is usually a story behind why they were not a commercial success. The Wikipedia article for the Trident covers it very well.

Have you flown on a Trident before? What was it like? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image via BAE Systems.