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History of PIA - Pakistan International Airlines

Since 1954, PIA has flown many popular and famous passenger aircraft types. These aircraft include Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation, DC-3 Dakota, Convair CV-240, Vickers Viscount 815, Boeing 707, Boeing 720, Hawker Siddeley HS.121 Trident 1E, McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 and Fokker F27 Friendship

PIA Airbus A300B4-203

Airbus A300B4-203  (Abbas Ali Collection)

This photo taken at Toulouse Airport, France, shows PIA's very first brand new Airbus A300B4-203 undergoing pre-delivery checks. Here the A300 is sporting pre-delivery test flight French registration F-WZEP and it was delivered to PIA as AP-BAX on March 3, 1980. AP-BAX was one of four brand new A300s ordered by PIA in late 1970s and all these four aircraft were delivered to PIA in 1980. Later, PIA added some used A300s and the airline at one stage had more than ten A300s in its fleet. PIA flew A300s mainly on its Middle East, South Asia and Far East route network. During their early years with PIA, the A300s were also used on airline's flights to various European destinations such as Paris, Frankfurt, Athens and Rome. A300s also saw heavy service on PIA's domestic route network connecting city of Karachi with Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta. PIA also used A300s for Hajj flights from Pakistan to Jeddah. The airline's last active A300s were withdrawn from use in first half of year 2005 after their participation in Hajj flights operation that year


PIA de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300

de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300  (Abbas Ali Collection)

This photo shows brand new de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 (AP-AWK) in Canada before its delivery to PIA on February 17, 1971. AP-AWK was one of six brand new Twin Otters delivered to PIA between November 1970 and March 1971. A number of these Twin Otters were deployed to serve remote areas in East Pakistan (now independent Bangladesh) especially on routes which the airline had started with Sikorsky S-61N helicopter service. Twin Otters with their Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) capability were suitable for short runways in smaller towns in East Pakistan. With the separation of East Pakistan after the war of 1971, the fleet of Twin Otters became surplus for PIA and in October 1972 the airline sold it surviving fleet of five Twin Otters to a French operator - one Twin Otter was lost on ground during enemy air-raid in East Pakistan during 1971 war. PIA became Twin Otter once again when it inducted two of these aircraft in 1985. Twin Otters have long been a common sight wherever a sturdy STOL aircraft is needed and Pakistan's mountainous areas are just such an area. PIA Twin Otters were used to connect Islamabad with cities of Rawalakot and Muzaffarabad in Azad Kashmir. The airline also used Twin Otters to connect Islamabad with Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan and Mianwali. With Twin Otter flights, Peshawar was linked with Bannu and Parachinar, the capital of Kurram Agency in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The Twin Otter service to Parachinar, inaugurated in 1993, was historic in nature because it air-linked FATA with the rest of the Pakistan for the first time in country's history. Twin Otters were also offered by PIA on charter basis to various companies especially oil & gas exploration companies. In following years, a number of routes flown with Twin Otter were suspended by PIA and the airline sold its two Twin Otters to an American company in September 2006



PIA Douglas DC-3 Dakota

Douglas DC-3 Dakota  (Abbas Ali Collection)

This photo shows AP-ABB in early version of 1960s livery with green PIA logo on all-white tail. A total of thirteen Douglas DC-3 Dakotas flew for PIA from 1955 to mid-1960s and except two (AP-AGG & AP-AJH) all other eleven DC-3s were ex-Orient Airways aircraft that became part of PIA fleet after the merger of two airlines on March 11, 1955. In West Pakistan, the legendry DC-3 was used on routes such as Karachi-Lahore-Karachi and Karachi-Lahore-Rawalpindi-Peshawar. In West Pakistan's north, the DC-3 was used to air-link remote areas such as Gilgit and Skardu with Rawalpindi, Chitral with Peshawar and in south the dependable aircraft was used to link Mekran coastal areas such as Pasni with Karachi. In East Pakistan, the DC-3 was used on routes such as Dacca-Chittagong-Dacca and Dacca-Jessore-Dacca. PIA also used its DC-3s for international flights. From West Pakistan, the DC-3 operated Karachi-Delhi flight and from East Pakistan the DC-3 flew Dacca-Calcutta and Chittagong-Rangoon flights.

On March 25, 1961, PIA started a DC-3 'Airbus' service in East Pakistan. The service offered fares that were competitive or even less than those of railways in some cases. PIA did not demand government subsidy for the service and used funds from profit made by the airline on other services to operate DC-3 'Airbus' service in East Pakistan. The ground arrangements were simple, there were no reservations and passengers had to make their own way to the 'bus-stops'. The amenities on board were austere without meals and reading material but the service offered a generous baggage allowance. Later the PIA DC-3 'Airbus' service was replaced with Sikorsky S-61N helicopter service in November 1963.

PIA DC-3 operations were not without accidents, the airline lost a total of five DC-3 aircraft due to air accidents in different parts of the country's both East and West wings. The induction of new Fokker F27 Friendship Mark 200 aircraft in 1961 in PIA fleet began gradual decline in airline's Dakota operations. In 1961/62 PIA sold a number of its DC-3s to various customers including AP-ABB which was purchased by Royal Nepal Airlines in July 1962. Some of DC-3s remained in service with PIA for few more years and last of these aircraft was phased out in 1967


PIA Sikorsky S-61N

Sikorsky S-61N  (Leonardo Pinzauti Collection)

This photo from Leonardo's collection shows PIA S-61N helicopter (AP-AOA) at Faridpur Heliport in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). For short-haul operations in East Pakistan's delta region, based on Dacca, PIA set up a network of scheduled helicopter routes, using three amphibious twin-turbine Sikorsky S-61Ns which were delivered between October 1963 and February 1964. The first revenue flight took place on November 25, 1963, the first routes being to Khulna, center of the East Pakistan jute industry, and to Faridpur. The PIA S-61Ns were configured to carry a total of 24 passengers with four crew members and 1,800lb of cargo. PIA's first five pilots selected for helicopter training completed their conversion training at British European Airways (BEA) training facility at Kidlington near Oxford where they learnt to fly Brantly B-2 light helicopter. They then converted to S-61N at Sikorsky's factory in Connecticut and returned to Pakistan for route flying on a Hiller UH-12E4 before delivery of the S-61Ns.

The value of this new mode of transport lay in the time saved, the 80-mile journey to Khulna, for example, taking 21 hours by surface travel and just 37 minutes by the helicopter. Faridpur, only 36 miles from Dacca, derived even greater advantage by the reduction of journey time from 22 hours to 17 minutes! More than 20 points were served as the complete fleet became available. These services had to be switched to fixed wing aircraft in 1967 after two accidents reduced the S-61N fleet from three to one, although by this time traffic had developed to a more worthwhile level to favor the construction of runways for fixed wing aircraft operations




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