Airco DH16 Arras | BAE Systems | International

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Airco
DH16 Arras

One of the first British commercial aircraft to be used after the First World War.
Side view of unmarked prototype Airco DH16 Side view of unmarked prototype Airco DH16 on 12 May 1919.
 
Airco DH16 prototype K-130 ground running Airco DH16 prototype K-130 ground running with RAF markings still applied.
 
The Airco DH16 was a passenger conversion of the war surplus DH9A aircraft, converted for use by Aircraft Transport and Travel (AT&T) on their routes between Hounslow and Paris.  
 
The conversions were carried out by Airco during 1919, AT&T being one of their subsidiary companies.  
 
The fuselage of the DH9A was widened to accommodate enclosed seating for 4 passengers seated in facing pairs under a glazed, hinged canopy.
 
The first aircraft flew at Hendon as K130 in March 1919, although it was later re-registered (G-EACT) for use during pleasure flights.  It was in this guise that it then flew the inaugural London to Paris passenger service on 25th August 1919.  Airco also sold one aircraft to the River Plate Aviation Company in Argentina where it operated between Buenos Airies and Montevideo.
 
9 DH16's had been built by mid-1920, the last 3 of which had the more powerful Napier Lion engine (450 hp) instead of the 320 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle of the earlier machines.
 
In December 1920 AT&T closed down with their surviving 7 aiercraft being placed in storage.  2 aircraft were returned to flight for newspaper deliveries although one of these was lost during a fatal crash in January 1923.  The remaining 5 had already been scrapped and these were soon joined by the only remaining example later that year.
 
Airco DH16 Arras G-EAQS Airco DH16 Arras G-EAQS showing Lion engine installation.
 
For their day, the DH16 fleet proved to be remarkably reliable and did much to demonstrate the practicality of passenger air transport.
 
The type had the potential to achieve greater success had not Airco ceased aircraft manufacture in 1920.
 
Airco DH16 in flight Airco DH16 K-130 making a 'Joy Loans' pleasure flight at Harrogate, June 1919.

Specification

Powerplant One 320 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII, or one 450 hp Napier Lion engine
Span 46 ft 5.9 in
Maximum Weight 4,750 lb
Capacity Pilot and seats for four passengers under a hinged canopy
Maximum Speed 136 mph
Cruising Speed 100 mph
Range 425 miles

Number built & Survivors

9 aircraft No examples survive