de Havilland Comet DH106 in British Overseas Airways Corporation livery

de Havilland Comet DH106

de Havilland Aircraft Company

de Havilland Comet G-APAS

G-APAS was the twenty-second Comet DH106 aircraft built at Hatfield in Hertfordshire and the tenth Mark 1A aircraft. She was assigned the serial number 06022 and undertook her first flight on 16 Match 1953. The aircraft was delivered to Air France and assigned the registration code F-BGNZ. Following a series of Comet aircraft crashes attributed to metal fatigue she was returned to de Havilland in June 1956.

F-BGNZ was converted to a Mark 1Xb configuration in March 1957 emerging with revised cabin windows and strengthened fuselage and re-registered as G-APAS in May 1957. She served for UK government Ministry of Supply and painted in RAF Transport Command colours before retirement to RAF Cosford in 1978. G-APAS - displayed as part of the RAF Museum's Transport Collection - is the earliest surviving complete Comet aircraft.

de Havilland Comet DH106

Designed by the de Havilland Aircraft Company 114 DH106 Comet aircraft were built between 1949 and 1962. The Comet was the first production commercial jet airliner. The first prototype aircraft flew on 27 July 1949 and the first batch of aircraft were delivered to BOAC. Aircraft G-ALYP, carrying the first fare-paying passengers, flew on 2 May 1952.

In October 1952 and March 1953 two Comets were lost in accidents, the latter resulting in fatalities. On 10 January 1954 BOAC Flight 781 was lost after take-off from Rome's Ciampino airport with 35 fatalities. On 8 April 1954 Comet G-ALYY on charter to South African Airways crashed, again after take off from Rome. After intensive investigations the cause was attributed to metal fatigue. All remaining Comet aircraft were withdrawn and extensively modified with a strengthened fuselage.

Subsequent derivations of the Comet were introduced with improved specification and passenger capacity, with deliveries of the final Comet 4-series beginning on BOAC 30 September 1958. The last commercial flight took place in 1981. The military derivation of the Comet - the Nimrod - remains in service with the Royal Air Force.

British Overseas Airways Corporation

The British Overseas Airways Corporation - abbreviated to BOAC - was founded in November 1939 following the merger of Imperial Airways and British Airways Ltd. The aircraft were painted in white and blue and carried Imperial's 'Speedbird' logo. Initially BOAC flew flying boats and, post-war, converted military aircraft such as the Avro Lancastrian (a civilian version of the Avro Lancaster heavy bomber). On 1 August 1946 the Civil Aviation Act received Royal Assent in Britain, splitting BOAC's operations into BOAC (flying long haul routes including to North America), British European Airways or BEA (flying domestic and European routes) and British South American Airways or BSAA (flying to South America and the Caribbean); BSAA merged back into BOAC in 1949.

In the 1950s BOAC flew the Bristol Britannia and introduced the first commercial jet airliner - the de Havilland Comet - in May 1952. By the 1960s the airline was flying the British-built Vickers Standard VC10 (and later the Super VC10) and the Boeing 707 from America. In 1962, BOAC and the British steamship company Cunard formed BOAC-Cunard Ltd, operating services to North America, the Caribbean and South America. The operation was short-lived and was dissolved in 1966. In September 1972 the airlines of BOAC and BEA began a merger, eventually forming British Airways on 31 March 1974.


Manufacturerde Havilland Aircraft Company
CountryUnited Kingdom
TypeCivilian airliner
Length93 ft 10 in
Wingspan114 ft 9 in
Height29 ft 6 in
Weight (empty)75,000lb
Weight (loaded)105,000lb
Engines4 x de Havilland Ghost 50 turbojet
Range1,500 miles

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de Havilland Comet photographs

  • de Havilland Comet G-APAS
  • de Havilland Comet G-APAS
  • de Havilland Comet G-APAS
  • de Havilland Comet G-APAS
  • de Havilland Comet G-APAS
  • de Havilland Comet G-APAS
  • de Havilland Comet G-APAS
  • de Havilland Comet G-APAS
  • de Havilland Comet G-APAS