British Overseas Airways Corporation

British Overseas Airways Corporation

Infobox Defunct company
company_name = British Overseas Airways Corporation
slogan =
fate = Merged with British European Airways to form British Airways
foundation = 1939
defunct = 1974
location = UK
industry = Airline
key_people =
num_employees =
parent =
subsid =

The British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) was the British state airline from 1939 until 1946 and the long-haul British state airline from 1946. The company started life with a merger between Imperial Airways Ltd. and British Airways Ltd. Following a 1971 Act of Parliament, BOAC was merged in 1974 with British European Airways Corporation (BEA) to form British Airways.


During the 1930s, 1940s and until November 1950 Imperial Airways and then BOAC operated flying boat services from Southampton to colonial possessions in Africa and Asia. Aircraft such as the Short Empire and Short S.8 Calcutta flying boat, transport passengers and mail.

As well as training pilots in the UK, BOAC operated a tropical training school in Soroti, North East Uganda.

The breakup

The Civil Aviation Act of 1946 led to the demerger of two divisions of BOAC to form three separate corporations:
*BOAC - for Empire, North American and Far East routes
*British European Airways (BEA) - for European and domestic routes
*British South American Airways (BSAA) - for South American and Caribbean routes

In July 1949, British South America Airways was merged back into BOAC.

Introduction of jets

In May 1952, BOAC became the first airline to introduce a passenger jet, the de Havilland Comet. All Comet 1 aircraft were grounded in April 1954 after four Comets crashed, the last two being BOAC aircraft. Investigators discovered serious structural cracks caused by metal fatigue due to the repeated pressurization and depressurization of the aircraft as they ascended and descended. While rectifying this problem, de Havilland engineers improved the Comet in many ways and improved its range, creating the Series 4. In 1958, BOAC used the new Comets to become the first airline to fly jet passenger services across the Atlantic.

During the 1950s and 1960s, BOAC flew the Bristol Britannia and Comet but these aircraft were not competitive so in October 1956 they ordered 15 Boeing 707s which entered service in 1960. Sir Giles Guthrie, who took charge of BOAC in 1964, preferred the Boeing aircraft for economic reasons, and indeed BOAC began turning a profit in the late 1960s. The preference for US-made aircraft caused a political row in Parliament, however, and the government ordered BOAC to purchase 17 Vickers VC-10 aircraft from a 30-aircraft order which Guthrie had cancelled. [ [,9171,836920,00.html Brickbats at BOAC] , "TIME", March 24, 1967.] However the VC-10 had somewhat higher operating costs than the 707, largely as a result of BOAC's own demands for the aircraft to have excellent hot and high performance.

BOAC later became the largest Boeing customer outside North America. The next major order of Boeing aircraft was for 11 747-100s. BOAC received its first 747 on 22 April 1970 but due to strike action by the British Air Line Pilots Association the aircraft did not enter commercial service for almost a year, on 14 April 1971.

In 1962, BOAC and Cunard formed BOAC-Cunard Ltd to operate scheduled services to North America, the Caribbean and South America. The operation was dissolved in 1966.


On 1 September 1972, the British Airways Board was formed, a holding board that controlled BOAC and BEA. On 31 March 1974, both the BOAC and BEA were dissolved and their operations merged to form British Airways.

BOAC would have become one of the first operators of the Concorde had it not merged to become British Airways. BA's Concordes carried registrations of G-BOAA through G-BOAG. The first Concorde delivered to British Airways was actually registered G-BOAC.

Aircraft operated

* Airspeed Consul (1949)
* Airspeed Oxford (1948)
* Armstrong Whitworth A.W.38 Whitley 5 (1942)
* Armstrong Whitworth Ensign (1939)
* Avro 683 Lancaster (1944)
* Avro 691 Lancastrian (1945)
* Avro 688 Tudor 1 (1946)
* Avro 685 York (1944)
* Bristol Britannia (1955)
* Boeing 314A (1941)
* Boeing 377 Stratocruiser (1949)
* Boeing 707 (1960)
* Boeing 747 (1969)
* Canadair C-4 Argonaut (1947)
* Consolidated Model 28 Catalina (1940)
* Consolidated Model 32 Liberator (1941)
* Curtis Wright CW-20 (1941)
* de Havilland DH.91 Albatross (1940)
* de Havilland DH.95 Flamingo (1940)
* de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito (1943)
* de Havilland DH.104 Dove (1946)
* de Havilland DH.106 Comet (1951)
* Douglas DC-3 (1940)
* Douglas DC-7C (1956)
* Focke-Wulf Fw 200B Condor (1940)
* Handley Page Halifax (1946)
* Handley Page Halton (1946)
* Handley Page Hermes (1949)
* Lockheed Constellation (1948)
* Lockheed Hudson (1941)
* Lockheed Lodestar (1941)
* Short S.23 Empire (1936)
* Short S.25 Sunderland (1942)
* Short S.26 (1939)
* Short S.30 Empire (1938)
* Short Sandringham (1947)
* Short Solent (1946)
* Vickers VC10 (1964)
* Vickers Warwick (1942)


*AM918, Liberator C I BOAC registration G-AGDR, shot down by a Spitfire in error over English Channel near Plymouth, England on 15 February 1943.
* Flight 777, 1 June 1943, shot down over the Bay of Biscay by German Junkers Ju 88s. All seventeen crew and passengers were killed, including actor Leslie Howard.cite book |last=Goss |first=Christopher H. |title=Bloody Biscay: The History of V Gruppe/Kampfgeschwader 40 |year=2001 |publisher=Crécy Publishing |location=Manchester |id=ISBN 0-947554-87-4 |pages=50-56 ] There has been widespread speculation that the downing was an attempt to kill British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. cite web
author=N/461 | publisher= | year=
title=Howard & Churchill
accessdaymonth=2 December | accessyear = 2006
* Flight 781, Mediterranean Sea, near Elba, 10 January 1954.
* South African Airways Flight 201 (operated by BOAC), Mediterranean, near Naples, 8 April 1954.
* Bristol Britannia 312, Tail Number; G-AOVD, Crashed near Winkton England on the morning of 24 December 1958.
* Flight 911, (5 March 1966). A Boeing 707 crashed on Mount Fuji after experiencing clear air turbulence. Several passengers cancelled their tickets at the last moment in order to see a ninja demonstration. These passengers, Cubby Broccoli, Harry Saltzman, Ken Adam, Lewis Gilbert and Freddie Young, were in Japan scouting locations for the fifth James Bond film, "You Only Live Twice".
* Flight 712, England 9 April 1968. [ [ Special Report: British Overseas Airline Company Flight 712] . Retrieved on 2008-01-09.]
* Flight 775 became the first British plane to be hijacked on 9 September 1970 as part of the Dawson's Field hijackings.

Popular culture

* Evolutions of the BOAC logo inherited from Imperial Airways, the Speedbird, continue to be used as the logo for British Airways, and continues to be used as BA's call sign.

* The Beatles song "Back in the USSR" (released in 1968 on "The White Album") begins with the line "Flew in from Miami Beach via BOAC."

* Bobby Bloom's song "Montego Bay" in its first line refers to a jetliner as a "BOAC", pronouncing it as an acronym rather than as an initialism, which was more usual.


External links

* [ British Airways Archive and Museum Collection]
* [ BOAC Junior Jet Club Information]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • British Overseas Airways Corporation — Codes AITA OACIL Indicatif d appel BA BA SPEEDBIRD Repères historiques Date de création 1939 Date de disparition 1974 (fusionné avec British European Airways pour devenir …   Wikipédia en Français

  • British Overseas Airways Corporation —   [ brɪtɪʃ əʊvəsiːz eəweɪz kɔːpə reɪʃn], Abkürzung BOAC [biəʊeɪ siː], British Airways …   Universal-Lexikon

  • British Overseas Airways Corporation — BOAC British Overseas Airways Corporation …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • British Overseas Airways Corporation — Самолёт Vickers VC10 авиакомпании BOAC British Overseas Airways Corporation (сокр. BOAC)  государственная авиакомпания Великобритании, основанная в 1939 году; существовала до 1974 года. Компания была образована слиянием Imperial… …   Википедия

  • British European Airways — British European Airways …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • British European Airways — Codes AITA OACIL Indicatif d appel Repères historiques Date de création 1946 Date de disparition 1974 (fusionné avec British Overseas Airways Corporation pour devenir British Airways) Gén …   Wikipédia en Français

  • British European Airways — (BEA) or British European Airways Corporation was a British airline which existed from 1946 until 1974.Formed in 1946 by an Act of Parliament, BEA compulsorily acquired the aircraft fleets and routes of most UK private airlines then operating… …   Wikipedia

  • British United Airways — (BUA) was the largest independent UK based airline during the 1960s. Its origins can be traced to the merger of Airwork and Hunting Clan Air Transport in July 1960. The merger within the UK airline industry was necessitated by the apparent… …   Wikipedia

  • British United Airways — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda British United Airways (BUA) fue la mayor aerolínea independiente británica en los años 60. Sus orígenes se remontan a la fusión en julio de 1960 de Airwork y Hunting Clan Air Transport. Fusiones de este tipo… …   Wikipedia Español

  • British European Airways — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Hawker Siddeley Trident 1C (G ARPC), construido en 1962 y destruido en un incendio en el aeropuerto londinense de Heathrow en 1975. British European Airways o BEA fue formada en 1946 por una Ley del Parlamento… …   Wikipedia Español