C/N 196

Mk.203  -  I-TIVI, G-BBXJ

Herald C/N 196, a model 203, was the 41st and penultimate Herald built at Radlett making its first flight on 25th June 1968. Sold to Aerolinee Itavia and placed on the Italian register as I-TIVI it departed Radlett on delivery a couple of weeks later on 4th July 1968.

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I-TIVI parked on the apron at an unknown location in April 1969. (Photo © Martin Fenner Collection)  

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I-TIVI parked on the apron at Naples in August 1969. (Photo © Martin Fenner Collection)  

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I-TIVI parked on the ramp at Lourdes in August 1970. (Photo © Martin Fenner Collection)  

In the latter part of 1973 British Island Airways (BIA) purchased the entire Itavia Herald fleet and I-TIVI was ferried to BIA's engineering base at Blackpool on 18th December 1973 for overhaul and repaint. Placed on the British register on 18th January 1974 as G-BBXJ, it would be a little over 3 months before it flew again as the Certificate of Airworthiness was not issued until 31st May 1974. 

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A rare in service photo of G-BBXJ at Gatwick on 20th August 1974. (Photo © Werner Fischdick)  

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G-BBXJ at Heathrow, also in August 1974. (Photo © Richard Hunt Collection)  

Unfortunately unlike so many of her fellow BIA Heralds, G-BBXJ was not going to have long career. On Christmas Eve 1974, G-BBXJ departed Southampton for Guernsey at 17:49 operating flight UK 185 but the take-off from Southampton was rejected at 60 knots due to the No.2 engine not reaching the datum required for the use of water methanol injection. The aircraft came back to the ramp for ground checks to be completed. With no fault found following an engine ground run, G-BBXJ departed Southampton at 18:21, again bound for Guernsey. While the engines performed as intended during the take-off, at about 200ft in the climb a rise in the torque indication on the No.2 engine was observed. This wasn't deemed to be an issue and with climb power set the Herald comfortably made its way to the cruise altitude of 8,000ft. On the approach into Guernsey some 35 miles out, the crew noticed that the No.2 engine was providing erratic power indications and as a precaution decided to shut the engine down, feathering the propeller. 

 

Although the crew requested Guernsey have emergency services standing by, 5 miles out from Guernsey the crew advised that they were diverting to Jersey, presumably due to the large BIA engineering presence and hangar space available for fault finding and rectification. The crew set course for Jersey which was flown at 1,500ft, where they carried out an ILS approach in VFR conditions. Just before the aircraft made contact with the runway the Captain realising the aircraft was not aligned with the runway requested full power on the No.1 engine, which resulted in the aircraft swinging to starboard and the right hand wing striking the ground. The aircraft departed the runway and slid across the adjacent grass coming to rest 180 degrees to the direction of travel across the boundary fence and a road which ran around the northern perimeter of the airport. The crew of 4 and 49 passengers escaped without serious injury. A damage assessment concluded the aircraft would be uneconomical to repair. She had amassed a total time of 11,781 hours.

 

The photos below were taken by Mike Pitman and Terry Villars a couple of days after the accident and depict poor old G-BBXJ where she came to rest and some of the damaged substained.

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 (Photo © Mike Pitman)  

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 (Photo © Mike Pitman)  

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 (Photo © Mike Pitman)  

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 (Photo © Terry Villars)  

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 (Photo © Terry Villars)  

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 (Photo © Terry Villars)  

With BIA declaring the aircraft uneconomical to repair, all useful parts were removed with the fuselage donated to the Jersey Airport Fire Service on 24th February 1975, for non-destructive training purposes. With windows panelled over it became the ideal cabin smoke trainer. Incredibly, it served the Firemen in this role for 28 years, finally being broken up in the Spring of 2003.

With the Jersey Airport Fire Service training ground located in the North West corner of the airport, anyone with a keen eye departing the island towards the West would have been able to spot the fuselage quite easily. In company with a former British Airways Viscount, G-AOJD, it can be clearly seen in the photo below taken from a departing Aurigny Trislander in August 1985.

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 (Photo © Martin Fenner)  

With its raised cockpit and high wing design, the fuselage of G-BBXJ is still instantly recognisable as a Herald. The photos below were taken in the Jersey Airport Fire training ground on 31st August 1985.

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 (Photo © Martin Fenner)  

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 (Photo © Martin Fenner)  

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 (Photo © Martin Fenner)  

Timeline

1968 June 25             -   First flight from Radlett Airfield, Hertfordshire

1968 July 4                 -   Delivered to Aerolinee Itavia as I-TIVI

1973 December 18   -   Sold to British Island Airways (BIA) and ferried to Blackpool

1974 January 18        -   Placed on the British register as G-BBXJ

1974 May 31              -   UK Certificate of Airworthiness issued

1974 December 24   -   Damaged beyond economical repair while carrying out a single engined landing at Jersey

1975 February 24      -  Fuselage donated to Jersey Airport Fire Service

2003 Spring                -  Fuselage broken up and removed from the Fire training ground