Flying The Avro HS 748 And The Indian Air Force

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An IAF Avro

The Avro was an English plane which was built under license at HAL. The plane was a twin-engine turbo prop which had an endurance of over 5 hours. The plane was also used by the IAC and was the mainstay of the Indian Air Force Communication squadrons. It was also used for VIP duties and conveyed the Prime minster and other dignitaries to the far corners of India. For VIP duties the plane was suitably furnished and had plush interiors. The Avro entered service in the IAF in 1964. The Avro was a twin engine turbo prop plane witha speed of 280 km an hour. It had a service ceiling of 25,000 feet an dcould carry 50 passangers. The Avro had a range of 812 miles and could operate from short airfields. It could also land at Leh and the airfields in the North East of India.

The Avro was also modified for the use of the IAF and had its door enlarged for supply dropping and carriage of goods and equipment. But I am afraid, it was not much of a success in that role and it was soon replaced for these purposes by the Russian built AN 32.

My first long haul in the Avro was when posted at Calcutta; I made frequent trips to the IAF base at Car Nicobar. It is a tribute to the endurance and capability of the Avro that it flew non stop from Dum Dum airport at Calcutta  to Car Nicobar island in the Bay of Bengal in about four and a half hours. When we took of from Dum Dum, it was a panoramic sight to see the Delta of the Hooghly and Ganga below. I have never seen such scenic beauty anywhere.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQAPrGDXyPu48fT03DN98mAvro in flight

In 1989 I was posted as a member of the Air Staff Inspection team for 5 years. It was our job to travel all over India to check the operational readiness of the various air bases and   squadrons. For these movements we invariably used the Avro. It was a good plane as a light transport, but unsuitable for cargo or Para missions. Frequent flying in the Avro convinced me that it was a very versatile plane. The IAF is the only Air Force to have used the HS 748 in large tumbers.

Four and a half decades down the line about 60 Avro’s are still in service with the IAF. Generally the Avro had an excellent safety record both with the IAF and the IAC, though IAC pilots and passengers were not too happy to fly in the Avro. Incidentally Rajiv Gandhi flew the Avro as well.

The production of the Avro is stopped and only maintenance work is carried out on the existing fleet. But all in all the Avro certainly has a place in the transport history of  the Indian air Force.


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