The Aircraft Manufacturing Company (Airco) DH16 was essentially a four-seat commercial passenger biplane conversion of the war surplus Airco DH9A aircraft, destined 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 Airco DH9A was widened to accommodate enclosed seating for 4 passengers seated in facing pairs under a glazed, hinged canopy.
The first aircraft (K130) flew from Hendon 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 Aires and Montevideo.
9 Airco DH16 aircraft 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 aircraft being placed in storage. 2 were later returned to flight for newspaper deliveries, although one of these was lost during a fatal crash in January 1923. The remaining 5 aircraft had already been scrapped and these were soon joined by the only remaining example later that year.
For their day, the Airco 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.
|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|
Number built & Survivors
|9 aircraft||No examples survive|